Mostly, reading about hygge, you learn something like this: Hygge is a term originating from Denmark that has become a somewhat cultural phenomenon worldwide. The essence of hygge lies in creating an inviting and cozy environment where you can relax and spend time with family and friends. In Denmark, hygge is particularly important during the cold winter months, when people tend to spend more time indoors and seek out hygge activities, such as curling up with a good book on the couch, having a cozy candlelit dinner with loved ones, or simply enjoying simple pleasures every day.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish expression that has gained popularity in recent years, especially during the colder months of the year. But what exactly - and actually - is hygge? Simply put, it is a way of life that focuses on creating a cozy and meaningful atmosphere by enjoying simple pleasures, such as conversation, comfort food, or savoring the moment.
What does the word "hygge" mean? Hygge
- noun Hyggelig
- adjective: Mit hjem er hyggelig
(my home is hyggelig, meaning my home is cozy and inviting), han er meget hyggelig
(he is very hyggelig, meaning a nice and easy-going person to be around), festen var hyggelig
(the party was hyggelig, meaning enjoyable and pleasant due to good company and atmosphere). At hygge
- verb: Jeg hygger mig
(I am hyggeing, meaning engaging in activities that make me feel good and create a hyggelig atmosphere), hyg jer
! (have a hyggelig time, meaning enjoy yourselves!), vi hyggede os meget
(we hyggede a lot, meaning we had a good time and felt comfortable). Therefore, you can see that the term hygge is deeply ingrained in Danish language and culture, and can be used in various situations. What connects these situations is a feeling of well-being and enjoyable experiences.
Here are five points about what hygge is
Hygge involves slowing down
This can mean taking time to enjoy small moments with friends and family, engaging in meaningful conversations, or participating in activities such as board games or baking together. It is also important to disconnect from technology to be present and appreciate the surroundings without any distracting elements.
Hygge encourages self-care
Taking care of oneself should always be a priority, including getting enough restful sleep, eating healthy food, regularly exercising, and doing things that bring us joy, such as reading books or listening to music.
Hygge celebrates simplicity
We don't need expensive items or complicated plans to have fun; often, the simplest activities are the most enjoyable! For example, making hot chocolate at home with a loved one or taking a long peaceful walk is hygge.
Hygge creates a sense of contentment
We all deserve to feel safe and happy, so it's important to surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us, rather than those who bring us down.
Hygge is about connecting with others
It's important to slow down, disconnect from technology, and find time for loved ones who matter in our lives. Some examples of hygge activities include hosting a game night, having a home spa day, or snuggling under a warm blanket while watching our favorite TV show.
BUT - business meetings can also be hygge(lige)
If you show up well-prepared for the meeting, with all the necessary materials in hand - but also well-rested and in a good mood - the meeting is likely to go smoothly and with an optimistic attitude. Even if an agreement is not reached, it can be done politely and with mutual respect. This makes it easier to set a date for the next meeting or to say goodbye with friendly words like "Det var hyggeligt at møde dig!" - it was nice meeting you or "Tak for et hyggeligt møde!" - thank you for a cozy meeting! However, meetings with a poor atmosphere are not called hygge. Therefore, you can see that in Denmark, hygge is not limited to taking a break in a cozy environment at home. You can experience fredagshygge (Friday hygge) at work, where pastries, white bread, and cheese are served for breakfast on Fridays, or hyggehjørner (cozy corners), where you can chat with colleagues in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Why should one understand the essence of hygge when expanding to Denmark?
On the one hand, I know exactly that it's necessary, but on the other hand, it's difficult to explain. Hygge is a feeling - and how do you explain a feeling? It could be said that when seeking contact with Danes, you should start preparing yourself mentally. Danes have a cheerful starting point for every new contact - when answering the phone at the office or receiving foreign guests.
A friendly attitude is hyggelig
Be in a friendly mood and show it (nothing will happen if you show up with a blank face or communicate on the phone in a monotone - culture shock would be too great for Danes to overcome).
Positivity is hyggelig
Have a positive attitude (showing up without complaining or whining about slow traffic does not create a particularly hyggelig atmosphere).
A correct and familiar appearance is hyggelig
Dress comfortably but correctly. Wear quality clothing (without flashy brand logos!), that you have put on freshly before the meeting. I recommend taking 30 minutes before your trip to look up the work dress code used in Denmark and then follow it. Similarity creates closeness, while difference creates distance (whether it's a punk outfit or a stiff suit). For example, a Dane also looks up the expected dress code before going to a business meeting
in a different cultural environment.
Complete presence is hygge
During the meeting, your phone is in silenced mode, even if the person who invited you to the meeting answers their phone calls during the meeting.
Smooth communication is hygge
You speak either Danish or fluent English. Quality is important for Danes, and broken English may give them the impression that your company may not be able to handle proper communication, and even worse, misunderstand important factors and conditions. If you, as a representative of the company, do not speak the language well enough, invite a coworker with better language skills to join the meeting. If the meeting or call is over, and the Danish party says goodbye by saying that it was hyggelig to talk to you, then you have taken a big step towards the jackpot.
Treating each other with equal respect is hyggelig
In Denmark, everyone is treated equally, no matter if there is a cleaning staff or a CEO we are talking about. A friendly greeting and a smile are given with no thought to the position the other person possesses in the company, and everyone sits side-by-side at the lunch table. Don't make a mistake and ignore anyone when visiting the office of your potential future partner in Denmark, it would not be seen as acceptable behavior.
How to learn more about hygge?
I strongly recommend reading Meik Wiking's books The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
and My Hygge Home
. These provide a great insight into the Danish world, its traditions, culture, and beliefs. Of course, not all Danes walk around with a cinnamon bun in one hand and hot cocoa in the other. But the idea remains the same - simplicity, smoothness, and likability are attractive to them.
In conclusion, understanding the concept of hygge is essential when expanding to Denmark, as it plays a significant role in Danish culture and everyday life. Hygge is not limited to cozy evenings at home but can also be experienced in a work environment, making it essential to learn how to create a hyggelig atmosphere in business meetings. Being well-prepared, in a positive mood, dressing appropriately, being present, and communicating smoothly are some of the ways to create a hyggelig atmosphere. Meik Wiking's books offer excellent insight into the Danish way of life and their traditions. Overall, understanding and embracing hygge can help establish positive relationships with Danes and create a welcoming and comfortable environment for all.
Get In Touch With Me
Let me help you with expanding your business to the Nordics! Send a mail to: email@example.com
, or through this form:
Read more Localization in the Digital Age: What Does it Mean? Your guide to exporting organic products to the Nordic countries Top 10 Questions & Answers About Exporting To Denmark Business Localization 101: Understanding The Basics Of Localization