By now, you've probably come across the word, whether through a conversation with friends or a glance through the New York Times or New Yorker. It likely made you scrunch your nose and scratch your head at first, then, upon further appraisal, brought an unrelenting smile to your face. After all, hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a pretty epic term—one that gives name to the common desire for warmth and intimacy.
The Danish word is defined as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." It begs us to create warm, snug moments—then slow down long enough to really enjoy them. Thought to come from similar origins as the English word "hug," it's a cozy cure-all that's ingrained in every aspect of the country's culture. Danish doctors even recommend "tea and hygge" as a cure for the common cold.
"It plays into every action and activity, whether it's a cozying up for a stroll in the forest or inviting loved ones over for dinner," explains Danish author Pia Edberg. And, though the holidays are peak hygge season, it's not just a cold-weather concept. "It's incorporated all year round. For example, summer hygge might look like a picnic at the park with friends and a good bottle of wine and conversation."