Embracing the meaning of  Hygge: The Danish Secret to Happiness

If you’re just a little bit into the Scandinavian lifestyle, then you’ve probably heard of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga). Originating in Denmark, hygge is a concept that can best be described as “coziness.” It’s about taking pleasure in simple things and savoring life’s little moments. And it just might be a secret to happiness. Hygge is an elusive state that can be defined as the feeling you get when your home feels like a safe haven. Here’s what you need to know about hygge, its meaning, and how you can start incorporating it into your life. In addition, we’ll introduce key components of hygge decor.

Hygge meaning to snuggle up in the Sofa
The essence of hygge and the Nordic interior style

Hygge meaning

Hygge has no direct English translation. The Oxford English Dictionary describes hygge meaning “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”. Although we often say it means “coziness,” that doesn’t quite do it justice. Hygge is about enjoying the simple things in life and savoring life’s little moments. It’s about being present in the moment and taking the time to appreciate the people and things around you. And it is about a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. Hygge is cuddling up on the couch or sharing comfort food with close friends. And in addition, the meaning of hygge involves a feeling of gratitude over such moments. 

ready for a cup o cozy coffee
A hygge interior in my summer home

How to Embrace hygge in your home?

There are many ways to incorporate hygge into your life. But first things first: start by clearing your space out a little bit and decluttering your home. Then, take some time to make your home a cozy haven. Add some throw blankets and pillows to create a cozy nook. Light some candles—unscented candles are traditionally used in Denmark—to set a relaxing mood. And finally, make sure to spend quality time with the people you love. Hygge is also going for a walk with your partner or having a game night with friends, connecting with the people who matter most to you. And make sure to keep it low-key. Hygge is not about performing. Hygge is always relaxed, easy going.

Why You Should Embrace Hygge

If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress and find more joy in your everyday life, look no further than hygge. By intentionally incorporating hygge into your life, you can slow down, appreciate the moment, and maybe find true happiness. That’s the true meaning of hygge, and what could be better than that?

Hygge decor starts with candles

Candles are an essential element of hygge, and no recipe for hygge is complete without candles. When asked what constitutes hygge, more than 85% of Danes point to candles! Candles create a warm, cozy atmosphere and can be used to set the mood for any occasion. Whether enjoying a quiet night at home or hosting a dinner party, candles will help you achieve that perfect hygge vibe. And don’t forget: Candles are a year-round thing, not just a winter or fall thing! But why candles? Well, too bright lights are absolute hygge spoilers, and the candles create and symbolize just a minimum of light that define a small shared space. This is essentially the meaning of hygge decor.

Heimat candle sticks from Normann. Look out for them in our hygge box
Beautiful candles in Scandinavian-designed candlesticks

Comfort food for giving yourself a treat

Nothing says hygge like comfort food. When it’s cold outside and you want to curl up with a good book, there’s nothing better than a hot cup of tea or a slice of cake. So next time you’re in the mood for something comforting, don’t be afraid to indulge! Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge puts it this way: ‘Hygge is about being kind to yourself, giving yourself a treat, and about giving yourself – and each other – a break from the demands of healthy living.’

Hygge box
Simple hygge and cake in the kitchen

Fireplace for warmth

There’s something about a fireplace that emphasizes hygge. If you’re lucky enough to have one in your home, make sure to use it often! There’s nothing like snuggling up in front of a roaring fire when we get to colder times. I can’t help thinking that the origins of hygge are connected to our ancestors sitting by night time around the fireplace, enjoying a feeling of warmth, safety, and togetherness.

Cozy warmth by the fireplace
A moment of solo hygge by the fireplace

The real meaning of hygge

I hope you understand, the candles, the fireplace, and the comfort food are just props. You can absolutely create hygge without them as well. It’s all about finding these little moments during the day where you create the space for those joyful feelings of warmth, safety, comfort, and togetherness.

At Norlii, we want to help you have hygge in your beautiful home. When we create our elegant curations of Scandinavian design items, we always aim for balance and hygge. We also want to inspire you with our stories and content about the Scandinavian lifestyle. Scandinavian design’s simplicity, functionality, and beauty have proven to be perfect for making a comfortable and stylish home. And it is about celebrating the everyday. We believe that Scandinavian living and the meaning of hygge can help us to slow down, appreciate the simple things in life, and find more joy in our homes. That is why we offer the bimonthly subscription box that delivers Scandinavian design straight to your door. Each box includes 4-5 hand-selected home décor items and a folder with information, styling tips, and more. So whether you are looking for a new vase, a cozy blanket, or just some inspiration for your home, Norlii Box is the perfect way to bring a little bit of Scandinavia and hygge into your life. Did you know our October box is dedicated to hygge? Don’t miss our hygge box. 

The next time you feel stressed out or overwhelmed, take a page from the Danish playbook – or from Norlii’s hygge decor box – and create a moment of hygge. Trust us, your mind—and your mental health—will thank you for it!

3 things you didn’t know about hygge:

• Runner up Word of the Year in the UK a few years back (The word Brexit won!)

• ‘The Little Book of Hygge. The Danish way to live well’ was published in 2016 and has been translated into +30 languages

• Hygge was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017

Sources /Further reading

The year of living Danishly: Uncovering the secrets of the world’s happiest country (Helen Russell)

– ‘The Little Book of Hygge. The Danish way to live well’ (Meik Wiking)