By Caitlin Hornik
Culture Corner is an article series designed to share destination-specific cultural information. These tips and tricks are meant to help you as you plan your trip! Keep this information in mind as you embark on a journey to another culture that you may be unaccustomed to.
From the Danish hospitality to the stunning scenery, Copenhagen is a city straight from a storybook. If you’ve seen photos, you know exactly what I mean. But once you’re there, the picturesque city pops off the page and straight into your heart. Colorful buildings line the streets, a crisp breeze blows through your hair as you stroll along the canals, and the aroma of fresh waffles lingers in the air. There is a cozyness, a sensibility of health and comfort, and a general pleasantness that other corners of the world simply don’t capture as well as Copenhagen. Maybe it’s the way of life. Maybe it’s the wine. Or maybe it’s the hygge.
Hygge is the Danish concept of coziness! Hygge (pronounced “HOO-gah”) is a way of life. It’s a mindset and practice that has been adopted by the Danish people. Hygge is embodied in a variety of ways, from simple everyday comforts to specific experiences.
Hygge is derived from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being,” and can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective. While hygge does pertain to well-being, it also extends to contentment, which can be defined by many things. To some, it’s slowly sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee while you watch the sunrise. To others, it’s a more intimate feeling defined by togetherness. Hygge is also the simple comfort of snuggling up in your favorite pair of sweatpants with a great book! Some items that lend themselves well to the concept of hygge in the Danish culture are candles, fireplaces, hot drinks, and blankets.
Characterized by moments of coziness and comfort, hygge extends beyond that to also include happiness. Denmark is often named one of the happiest places in the world, so it’s no coincidence that they’re also the world leaders of hygge!
Hygge High Season
In Denmark, the winter months are filled with long, dark days and minimal sunlight. So, hygge really kicks into high gear during the holiday season! Strolling down the streets, you’ll find loads of flickering lights and restaurants offering mulled wine. Savor the ambiance and get your hygge on! But don’t worry if you’re not visiting during the holiday season. The Danes know how to embrace hygge year-round.
How to Experience Hygge During Your Trip (& at home)!
When you walk throughout Copenhagen during the winter months, you’ll see restaurants and bars all set up to welcome diners .... outside. With heat lamps, space heaters, and a blanket adorning every chair, the Danes relish the opportunity to cozy up regardless of the temperature. Sipping an afternoon glass of wine while bundled in a blanket? Definitely hygge.
You may also notice that many bars and restaurants rely heavily on candlelight! Candles, as previously mentioned, are a huge hygge item. Taking a quiet moment in a bar while sipping your cocktail by candlelight? Totally hygge.
To bring the hygge home with you, consider marking some time off on your calendar for starters. Hygge is never to be rushed, so allow yourself a good chunk of time. Find your favorite oversized sweater, comfy wool socks, sweatpants, and a big blanket. Curl up with a good book, a cup of tea or coffee, and maybe throw a hearty meal in the slow cooker to simmer while you get your hygge on! Snacks are also a great part of hygge, and are encouraged! Popcorn, chocolate, or anything that feels like a warm hug. Hygge is a great way to practice self-care!
For me, hygge was sitting at Torvehallerne with a cappuccino, absorbing the bustling market atmosphere from a quiet corner. Hygge was sitting outside by a heater munching on an afternoon snack as I watched people pass. Hygge was drinking wine in a local candlelit bar.
As someone who enthusiastically practices self-care, experiencing hygge firsthand and being able to bring the concept home with me was worth the price of the entire trip.