Hygge, which we will learn how to pronounce in just a minute, may be bigger than Marie Kondo-ing come 2017. It was shortlisted to be the 2016 Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year (“post-truth” won); both TIME and The New York Times have examined its rise (The New York Times suggested it may soon reach Kondo-esque status; TIME sort of explains “post-truth” as the reason we all seem to be craving Hygge). As of publish, the Instagram hashtag #hygge has over 1.6 million Pinterest-perfect posts to scroll through.
The TIME article offers a few different pronunciations for Hygge: “hyue-gar,” “hoog-jar” and “hoo-gah” (the most common), explaining that the word “broadly means an approach to living that embraces positivity and enjoyment of everyday experiences, said to be core concepts of attitudes to life in the Nordic region.”
So what is it?
Applicable as a noun, verb or adjective, Hygge is hard to describe, apparently. It’s the Danish word for “cozy,” per The New York Times. “Cuddling, brushing your teeth while your partner brushes his or her teeth and stands next to you, being naked, vintage textiles, pendant lights, circular tables, burned spatulas, old shoes, honking geese and line-dried laundry” all count according to Ms. Brits, author of The Book of Hygge.
“Hygge has been around for centuries,” Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, told Time. It’s “a central part of Danish culture and DNA. For us, it’s not a lifestyle move, it’s simply a way of living and how we do things.”
My favorite definition of Hygge comes from Helen Russell, a woman who moved from the U.K. to Denmark, and who authored The Year of Living Danishly. She describes it as “complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming,” with “a focus on togetherness and prioritizing the people in your life.”
Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living, told TIME that it has become commercial, having “deviated somewhat from the word’s original focus on simplicity and positive daily experiences.”
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If it’s about that which elicits joy, then maybe it doesn’t even have to kick Marie Kondo out. Maybe the two can live in bookshelf harmony next to a candle and a cup of tea. Any excuse to hang out with loved ones and brush your teeth while naked (not mutually exclusive depending on who your friends are!) sounds good to me.
Photo via iStock.