Hygge during the winter holidays

Hygge, the Danish (and also Norweigan) word, was added to the dictionary in Great Britain in 2016 and has been featured in many American articles and blogs in recent years.

Although hygge can’t be described in one single word, I like the definition provided by the Danish wikipedia page as a positive connotation of safe and secure home, nice, cozy, and picturesque.  When looking up the English word “connotation” a suggested use is the connotation of “home” as a place of warmth, comfort and affection.  

My paternal lineage might have roots in Davis five generations deep, but my childhood memories of Hygge in Denmark have been branded in my mind for life.  I continued my Danish traditions with my family, friends as well as other Danes in Davis.  My memories of Hygge as it spread into homes throughout the month of December, goes back to a slightly simpler time when Denmark’s retail hours were more limited and the cost of driving cars kept people at home after 8pm.

Denmark is so far north, that the day light hours around winter solstice is only from 9am to 3pm, so families gathered inside with candle light, listening to Christmas music and preparing for Christmas Eve.  The feelings of Hygge is the social element of being together, working together while chit chatting, having lit candles, sipping on a warm drink such as hot cocoa, tea or coffee.  The home being filled with fragrance of oranges and mandarins decorated with cloves, the fresh smell of pine, and boiling the gløgg extract of oranges with cinnamon and cloves.  Hygge is the social feeling of being with other people and while the mind is removed from longing  material things.

Hygge is also present in the United States when families gather around the dinner table celebrating the holiday traditions in someone’s home. It’s the reflections on the things we are thankful for and sharing those sentiments with people near and dear to us.