No blog about studying abroad in Denmark would be complete without some post defining “Hygge,”  (pronounced like “hue-guh” but all rolled together in the back of your throat) the special Danish term for “cosiness” that permeates culture and daily life in Denmark. It is a noun (hygge,) an adjective (hyggelig,) and a verb (at hygge sig). A stereotypically hygglig situation often involves candles, hot beverages, and fluffy socks.

But both hyggelig and its English counterpart “cozy” are used much more frequently by Danes than someone from the United States would typically use them. For instance, if you had coffee or a drink with someone, when parting it would be appropriate to say “tak for en hyggligt aften” or “thanks for a cozy evening.” For something to be called “hyggelig” is the highest compliment, which demonstrates the importance of close friendships and intimacy in Danish culture.


One of the many images that comes up when you google “hygge” (I don’t know these people)

Although it is often considered a ‘uniquely Danish’ concept, I can say from experience that some of my best memories have been of simple, intimate gatherings of friends telling stories and playing games. However, to have a word for that vague, inherently human, pleasantness that comes from spending time together in low-key settings may be the factor that makes all the difference.


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