Making your home and your celebrations more hygge – pronounced ‘hooga’ – is the perfect antidote to the craziness of the pre-Christmas rush. There’s no better day of the year to relish the joys of cozying around together, which is essentially what hygge means. Think of everyone playing games together, having tea and mince pies, lounging in front of the fire…
Danes in particular identify with the notion of hygge – it is part of their culture and, because they see it as a way of life, it’s a vital part of their Christmas, too.
At Christmas, Danes work together to make sure there is maximum comfort. This is a team effort. It includes things like making the atmosphere warm with candles and good food, but it’s also in their way of being. They try to help out so that one person or a few don’t feel like the only ones doing all the work. Older children are encouraged to play with and help the younger ones. They try to engage in games that everyone can take part in, and they all make an effort to play – even if they don’t particularly want to. Opting out of the game wouldn’t be hyggeligt; it would be ‘not cozy’. They try to leave their personal problems behind and be positive and stay away from too much discord, because they value this cozy time together and want it to be just that. There are plenty of other times to worry about our lives and our stressors, and happiness comes from setting those times aside and being in the moment with the ones we love. For Danes, having a warm and lovely experience together is the ultimate end goal.
Feeling connected to others gives meaning and purpose to our lives, and this is why the Danes value hygge so highly. The individual is prized too, but without the interaction and support of others, none of us can be truly happy as a whole person. The concept of togetherness and hygge has many implications, but essentially it is putting yourself aside for the benefit of the whole. It is leaving the drama at the door when visiting your relatives on Christmas day and sacrificing your individual needs and desires to make a group gathering more pleasant. This is a much nicer experience for everyone, particularly children. They don’t enjoy adult drama and negativity, and simply want everyone to be happy on their favourite day of the year. Kids are very happy to be together and cozy around! And if they learn to hygge, they will be able to pass it on to their kids someday, too.