What is Nordic hygge? Learn it from a Dane

By |Published On: December 2nd, 2020|0 Comments|

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Nordic hygge

Want to learn the real hygge meaning? This is what Nordic hygge means in Danish and how we use it in words and sentences.

Hygge is a Danish word we use to describe an atmosphere. Like a Nordic zen.

In addition to describing things as hyggelig (hygge-like), we also add hygge to other words. For example, you can listen to hygge-music, sit in your hygge-corner with hygge-lighting perhaps enjoying hygge-chat with your best friend.

It doesn’t take much to hygge. Hygge is simple.

You can create hygge in almost any situation, it’s all about how you feel and your way of thinking. For instance, when I tuck Toby in, I swaddle him in warm blankets with his soft plush cuddle cloth against his chin. It’s hygge because it makes him feel safe and loved, and that makes me happy. It doesn’t take more than that.

Here’s what else is considered hygge in Denmark:

Read next: A beginner’s guide to hygge

Nordic Hygge meaning

Hygge is about an atmosphere. It’s about being with the people we love. A feeling of home and that we are safe. It’s about the little things in life. Like warm socks. A dim-lit room. A hot cup of tea in your favorite mug.

In a time when times go fast, people live stressful lives and look more into a screen than each other, hygge is a reaction. A much needed relaxed and carefree break from all that. A break that we Danes are obviously good at.

We use it as a barometer to measure how people feel. “Do you think the guests had a hyggelig time?” Even our cafees are rated after how hyggelige they are.

How do you pronounce hygge?

Hygge is pronounced “hue-gah” or “hoo-guh”. Try puckering your lips while you say it.

Hygge is not a lifestyle

When I read some of the advice on how to hygge, I can’t help but smile:

“Light a fire. Invite the neighbours over.”
“Enjoy a warm, silky bobble bath. Add scented candles and relaxing melodies”.

That’s what many of the self-help books about hygge suggests. And while all those things sure can be hyggelige, it’s also a bit forced – and you can’t force hygge.

Hygge is simple and genuine. You can’t buy hygge. You have to create it yourself. When you try to make it a lifestyle, you’re actually killing the hygge by formalising it.

For Danes, hygge is easy and something we always have in mind. Not JUST the candles and bobble baths you read about in American and English articles, but in our culture, language and way of thinking. I’m sure you’re already doing it. In Denmark, we just make it a priority.

Hygge is nostalgia

In this article about hygge, the author describes Nordic hygge as a break from our stressful everyday life. A nostalgia and reminiscing of a time where everything was simpler:

“A time when you visited each other, even unannounced, sat down and talked about this and that, rather than liking each other on Facebook. Where fire was the primary source of heating and light. Where most things were homemade and many were unique. Where stories were told as darkness descended.”

Read next: 10 great ways to hygge as a family

Nordic hygge

Synonyms of hygge

  • Well-being
  • Happiness
  • Being content
  • Comfortable
  • Safe and relaxed atmosphere
  • Nostalgia
  • Homeliness
  • Intimacy
  • Friendship or family love
  • Relaxation, satisfaction, relaxation, de-stressing
  • Warmth (in winter-time)
  • Security
  • Simplicity, unpretentiousness, minimalism
  • Candles, open fireplace, soft clothes, tea, sweet things

What’s the opposite of hygge

  • Stress
  • Uhygge
  • Controversy and alterations
  • Publicity, being busy
  • Tension
  • Fear
  • Chaos
  • Alienation
  • Consumerism

Hygge as a noun


Fredagshygge is something we do on Fridays (fredag) after a long week. What better way to celebrate than with Friday-hygge:

“Fredagshygge is snuggling up on the couch with popcorn, a warm blanket and Game of Thrones.”


Hygge you have with your family. Family hygge is about spending time with your family (in Danish: familie). Playing games, cooking together, watching TV or going to the park.

“We had familiehygge this weekend. We baked cookies and saw the latest Ice Age movie.”


Hygge between girls. This could be anything from a girl’s trip to a spa date or just a cup of coffee with your friend.

“I’ve invited the girls over for some venindehygge.”


The ultimate form of hygge. It’s something you’d say when you’re having an extra hyggelig time. It literally means ‘raw hygge’.

“Listening to heavy rain on my window as I fall asleep is pure råhygge.”


Cozy chitchat or conversations that are pleasant and don’t touch on controversial or upsetting issues. Politics and other heavy topics are no-go.

“I had a nice hyggesnak with my mom the other day.”


A hyggespreder is a person who spreads hygge. It’s that colleague who decorates for Christmas, or the person who always makes sure everyone around her is comfortable and feels welcome.

“She’s such a hyggespreder.”


Christmas is the high season of hygge. It’s a time when families gather to make decorations like julehjerter (Christmas Hearts) and Julestjerner (Christmas Stars) and bake Christmas cookies. Read more about Christmas hygge.

“Are we having julehygge this weekend, dad?”


A moment of hygge.

“We enjoyed a hyggestund at the lake”

Hygge bukser

Hyggebukser are that pair of pants you’d never be caught wearing in public, but practically live in when you’re at home on the weekends.


An evening of hygge, similar to a hyggestund, but often longer.

“We’re having a hyggeaften tonight with homemade lentil soup.”


An atmosphere, mood and feeling of relaxation.

“She’s good at creating hyggestemning.”


Essentially a nook where you can get cozy. Imagine a corner of your living room where you can wrap yourself up in a blanket and read a good book.

“I love my little hyggekrog.”


The same as a hyggekrog. A hyggehjørne is always in a corner, though.

“I’ve created a hyggehjørne in the corner of the bedroom.”


A special kind of lightening that’s really cozy.


When something is scary. Like watching a horror movie, walking in a dark alley or if you’re home alone and suddenly hear a sound outside.

Nordic hygge

Hygge as a verb

Hyg dig!

A common way of saying goodbye, for example “have a hyggelig time”

Hygge sig

This means having a nice, cosy experience with someone.

Hygge om

Make it hyggeligt for someone. For instance by making sure people around you feel good and comfortable. Like the situation with Toby that I described in the beginning of the post. Moms often hygger om their kids.

About the Author: Mama Miri

nordic hygge
I’m a mama of two boys, and I'll help you be the mom you want to be. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt. So let’s stop trying to be perfect moms and just be real ones.

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