Hygge, it’s the export from Denmark that we should all have a piece of. It’s the inner hug you get from being cute and cozy. It’s sacred time with friends or family. It’s the good life.
Hygge? What on earth am I talking about and how do you say this crazy word? Repeat after me, “hyoogah.” Hyoogah.” Yes, “hyoogah.” I know, I know. Just say it.
So what is this thing I speak of? Well, it’s the key to Danish happiness. And it’s perhaps the single most important feature of Danish life. Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world. In fact, it’s been the happiest country for 40 years in a row. And with that kind of track record, I think we should all look a little closer to discover why.
Okay, now that we know it’s an essential ingredient to life in Denmark, you might be asking yourself, what is it exactly? And why should I care? Well, hygge is not easily translatable into English. It just doesn’t exist. Loosely translated it means, coziness, comfort, the good life, that sacred time be it with yourself or with friends and family…and I love this concept.
Hygge can be a noun or a verb. It’s a feeling and experience and it’s warm and “cozy”. It’s about making yourself feel good. And I am all about that. My blog in fact is all about hygge-type feelings. Nostalgia. Saudade. Memories. Things and experiences that I love and makes me feel good inside. The good life.
It’s more than just spending time with family. I mean think about Thanksgiving and how crazy that can get. Thanksgiving can sometimes be the complete opposite of hygge ironically. There is nothing cozy and cute about stuffing yourself with a huge turkey and mashed potatoes until you are asleep on the sofa, perhaps after hours of bickering and drinking too much while cooking for 8 hours…ugh. Not hygge.
Instead picture this: Hygge is when the lighting is low, and you light some candles and you sit on a comfy sofa with a friend or your significant other drinking a glass of wine and just talking and spending time with them. Cute and comfortable right?
Or, hygge is going to a cute little cafe with little soft couches for you sit at, sipping a hot chocolate, typing on your laptop while it’s raining outside. Cozy right?
Hygge is when you invite 6 or 7 of your closest friends to your home and sit around the table enjoying a home cooked meal with a rich, red wine, just laughing and talking into the night. Maybe playing some old records. (Yes I said records. I will talk about my analog music obsession at another time, but totally hygge…trust me.) No drama, no bickering, only happiness. In the immortal words of Martha Stewart, “it’s a good thing.”
So now that we know what hygge is and that it’s really important. How can we get some? I want to be happy and I am sure you want to be happy. Since we can’t all be Danish, that’s what we will explore each Friday on Saudade on Sunday…except on Fridays. Yes, I did just say that. It’s a new feature okay? Just go with it. Hygge Fridays! Woot.
Denmark is mostly cold and snowy and one can easily see how you can get hygge easily there. Snuggle under a blanket with your Netflix and your good. But it’s the end of August you say…how does hygge work in the summer? I am so glad you asked.
In my first attempt at getting some more hygge into my life (on purpose and not by accident), I decided to go explore a little nook on Green Street in Chicago’s West Loop for some after work drinks with my hubby. We decided on The Allis, which is actually the lounge in the Soho House Chicago. I am changing that wild and crazy “happy hour” that most people do after a long work week and making it “hygge hour”.
The Allis, is the name of the building that was built in 1907 and for many years it was uninhabited and unused in the West Loop until it was developed by Soho House. That whole block on Green Street from Washington Boulevard to Randolph Street is a cozy little nook with all sort of secret little bars and restaurants to explore. It’s the most hygge block in the West Loop! Maybe even in all of Chicago. Or Illinois. Or maybe the US. Dare I say the world even!!! Sorry, getting carried away here.
Anyway, as I was saying, Jeff and I sat outside and ordered some cocktails and little finger sandwiches, because what is a cocktail without finger sandwiches? Little hygge, finger sandwiches, come on! Egg salad, salmon with cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches to be exact. So much better than beer and peanuts right? Now don’t get me wrong, I like beer and peanuts as much as the next person. Actually, I don’t like beer at all, but I can see it’s value. Maybe when eating a salty pizza or watching a ballgame and eating a hotdog. But hanging out with 40,000 people at a baseball stadium, well that’s just not hygge.
Those sandwiches! They were so cute I didn’t want to eat them. Chomp! One bite into Jeff’s mouth and they were gone. The cocktails were served in these really beautiful crystal cut glasses. I had their Basil Blossom cocktail, a pretty little concoction of white rum and maraschino and Mallorca melon tea. And Jeff had the Eastern Standard, a manly mix of vodka, mint and cucumber (I think it sounds like a spa drink, but don’t tell him I said that, but totally scores major hygge points.)
So that’s what we did this Friday. We sat at our cute little wooden table, people watching on Green street, enjoying our craft cocktails and tiny sandwiches. I bet if I asked a Danish Viking if that was hygge, they would give me an A+. So this week, why don’t you go find a small little bar that you have been wanting to go to with a friend and just order one drink and a small snack and slowly enjoy it. Savor the moment. Get some hygge in your life.
See you next week for my next installment of Hygee Friday.