Coziness is Trending for 2017 (We Need it)

Hygge is the Danish concept that just might take the place of your Marie Kondo book


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.”

Here’s a man sitting in front of a fireplace who can help you pronounce it.

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.”

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.

Check out Aurora James’ cool apartment for cozy interior decorating inspiration. 

Photo via iStock. 

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  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    Saw this in the NYTimes today! Thought it was interesting – and definitely appealing. Feel like I’m always searching for this but never had a word for it!

  • aninalu

    Honestly, hygge is not a lifestyle or a philosophy, it’s just catch-all term, mostly referring to coziness (candles and family and stuff) but also other care-free activities, like drinking beer with your friends or having casual sex. But it doesn’t really mean much, there not much essence to the term. It’s not some sort of superhuman tranquil state of mind that you are missing out off. Sometime “hygge” can even be a bit oppressive.

    • Kate Barnett

      How can it be oppressive?? So interesting — I love the nuance of language!

      • aninalu

        Well it’s Christmas time, so it’s the peak of “hygge”. There are all these Christmas parties you have to go to with your co-workers and your family and those things can involve a great deal of awkwardness. “Hygge” tells you to be talkative, positive, to act a certain way, to put a smile on your face and not cause any discomfort. Instead of being real with each other or to yourself, somebody will say “Næææh, se hvor vi hygger os!” (~”Look at us being all cozy”) and people will laugh and smile and somebody will say “Skål!” (=”Cheers”) etc. “Hygge” prescribes a certain, quite specific way you should act in social situations. Of course there’s authentic “hygge” fx cooking with your boyfriend or making Christmas decorations with your child or drinking beer with your friends at a “bodega” (a dive-bar). But there’s certainly also inauthentic “hygge”. There’s this saying/joke in Denmark – “Hyg dig!”, hygge as an imperative. You are ordered to “hygge”.

        Also hygge is totally not pronounced as hoo-gah. I don’t know if there’s a equivalent to “y” in english, since you guys actually pronounce “y” as an “i” or “j”. But the “ge” in hygge is very similar to the “ge” in “get”. There’s no “a”.

  • Ann

    I think I’m doing this already? It’s called slightly messy, cozy living?

  • Natty

    I totally believe that Hygge and Marie Kondo can exist in harmony. If it doesn’t bring you joy or serve a purpose, get rid of it. Life motto!

  • Gwyn

    yes please!

  • I love being cosy. Especially in winter, I’m so glad there’s a word for this and a whole concept. So, so kewl.

  • Rachel Zuckerman

    Lemme tell you about that fall semester in Copenhagen…came back with the best socks and a deep appreciation for chai tea and gnomes

  • Lovisa

    When you have grown tired of the hygge craze and feel like you’re gonna puke if you ever hear the word again I suggest you learn the Swedish word for hygge: “mys”! It means the same thing and is pronounced with the same French “u. You’re welcome.

  • Basil

    I’m all for a trend which allows me to hang around at home wearing pjs. Which will be my interpretation of hygge

  • Samantha Lee

    I first learned about this when I went to Copenhagen this past summer. Now I’m seeing “Hygge” pop up LITERALLY everywhere. Though, in my own world, I like to pronounce it “Hig-ey”.

  • Sam @ Hygge Wellness

    Thanks for sharing! I think the concept of hygge can be applied throughout many different areas of our lives, including wellness (obviously! 😋). I use hygge throughout my life now. I apply it to my self-care practice & am always learning to slow down, de-stress, and enjoy the little moments.

  • Lilith

    Hygge has been around forever, in the US and everywhere else. It’s Pinterest since the beginning. I’m sure everyone has pinned those clichéd coffee cups, cozy sweaters, and fireplaces.

    I’m in SF, and oddly enough, I don’t think we’ve caught onto the hygge craze yet. NYC seems to be really into it, thanks to Vice, NYT, etc. But hygge is so SF. In fact, Denmark and Northern Europe is so SF — Bernie-loving, scarves year-round, dark/neutral colors, cafes and coffee, cold/foggy weather, and very hygge-friendly.

    Hygge is a very feminine, New Agey, self-care sort of concept. It’s something that’s been around for a long time, but now there’s a trendy Nordic catchword for it. Celebrating Nordicism yet again.