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3 ways to genuine American Hygge

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Do you like the idea of Hygge? Are you just dying to get to Hygge like the Danes? There might just be a reason for that.

Let's back up and get on common grounds on what Hygge is. Hygge (Hoo-Gah) is a Danish word and loosely translates into ‘cozy' encompassing the idea of daily breaks to give time for yourself and to create a warm atmosphere, where you feel comfortable and content for a while, alone or with family or close friend.

It seems the Danes are pioneers on this lifestyle, closely followed by the rest of the Scandinavians. The British have been obsessed with Hygge the recent years, so much that the word has entered the Oxford Dictionary (although they must have great difficulties pronouncing the word, just like any American.

But Americans have an advantage on Hygge. They are naturals on at least three of the cornerstones of Hygge: furniture, foods, and friendliness.

Interior Design

The Scandinavian modern design style that also rules in Denmark declares war on clutter and florid ornamentation and supports clean lines in an all white-wall setting. Hmm doesn't sound like the prominent place for Hygge. And while the design-loving inhabitants of Denmark refuse to slacken on the clean and minimalistic look, the Danes have learned to create a warm atmosphere by adding a soft and warm throw and lots of candle lights. Meanwhile, the traditional American furniture is born to be comfortable. They favor the plush and plump upholstery and let you relax and enjoy some off-time. Simply made for Hygge.

But Americans have an advantage on Hygge. They are naturals on at least three of the cornerstones of Hygge: furniture, foods, and friendliness.


Hygge is also indulging in comforting foods. So when you think traditional Danish favorite foods like pickled herring and dense Scandinavian rye bread, do you immediately think Hygge. No!! Americans, however, have been quick to translate Hygge into cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows. It just comes naturally to any American.

The Danes, on the other hand, are eating sweets like it was their last day on earth. In Denmark, most families have a habit of eating sweets Friday night, and they favor licorice and gummy candies over chocolate, ice cream or pizza. Let's face it; the later is the comforting foods by far.

Chit chatting

Maybe it's a bit of an overstatement to say all Danes are introverts, but we are known to keep our heads down when passing by strangers in public. Grocery shopping is done quietly minding our own business; we like to socialize on our turf. Any Dane's visit to an American grocery store would be left speechless for a while when hearing the jolly: how has your day been so far? A Dane would stop and think hard about the question before answering in a truthfully and respectfully manner. But here the Americans shine once again. Chitchatting through life, Americans are extrovert conversationalists throwing little greetings out wherever they go, creating smiles and joy on their paths. And that is hyggeligt (adjective form of Hygge.)

Americans are ahead on points on a couple of the Hygge-factors. Now the Danes have to spread the word on how to get Hygge as a daily part of your life and how to be kind to your self on a regular basis, to create a sustainable, joyful experience that will bring you to a happy state of mind. After all, Hygge gets credit for ranking Denmark and the rest of the Hygge-countries of Scandinavia in the absolute top ever since the first World Happiness Report was released.

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