The concept of HYGGE [hoo-ga] – a Danish term, and I grew up in Denmark – is an interesting one to define in English.
It looks like this: Family and/or friends visiting with each other over a meal or a drink or coffee, hosted in a home, at any time of day, with candles lit (do not confuse with a romantic dinner), conversation going, sharing stories, and relaxing into the present.
It feels like this: Happy to be alive, enjoying the moment, comfortable and content, happy to share the moment, warm and fuzzy feeling, and ‘this is where I want to be’.
Obviously, families and friends gather much around the holidays and the concept of hygge is often connected to holiday gatherings. However, you find hygge throughout the year, within homes, among families, big or small, or among friends (part of the hygge is that you are familiar with the people you are with), over a cup of morning coffee, or afternoon tea, or a glass of wine, or a full meal – the concept does call for sharing food or beverage with candles lit (a fireplace will do it, too).
Now to the important part: You LIKE to be together and you are open to sharing the listening and talking part. You choose to be in the moment and to enjoy the conversation. You may talk about memories or future personal plans, BUT you are here now, sharing of yourself as others share of themselves. When you talk to the same people the next day or the next time, you say: “Det var hyggeligt!” (You are expressing how ‘hyggeligt’ it was, meaning the sharing was nice.
Trying to transfer this concept to my life here in California is a challenge. Instead of sharing the moment, the stories, the memories, and personal plans, visits, even holiday get-togethers, and conversations revolve around job, money, success, and competition. Seems like most folks are always on the job.