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How to Pronounce Hygge (And Why It's Perfect for Your Home)

Over the last several years, the word ‘hygge’ has become more and more prevalent on social media, and in the news. It’s a common hashtag on Instagram, often accompanying photos of candlelit tables draped in soft white linens, or cozy couches filled with pillows. What's clear from these photos is that while some people may understand hygge on the surface, gaining a deeper understanding requires a bit more work.

The concept of hygge surged into American media around 2016. Initially, it was explained as a Danish expression that meant ‘cozy’, or ‘comfortable’. This simple explanation works when you only have 140 characters to express yourself, but once you understand the concept in greater detail, you’ll get a lot more out of it.

Today, let’s explore the history of hygge, its definition, how to pronounce it, and why it’s the perfect trend to embrace in your home.

Hands holding a hot cup of tea

What is Hygge?

First, a guide to pronunciation. Hygge is pronounced ‘hoo-gah’, or ‘heu-gah’, if you want to get closer to how they say it in Denmark.

Hygge is a Danish concept that dates back to the 18th century and is central to Denmark’s national identity. Hygge is the phrase that Danes use when they want to describe a home that’s separate from the dark, cold, and potentially dangerous world outside. It also implies a sense of community and togetherness. A home that is ‘hyggeligt’ is one that is not too pretentious, where you can be perfectly yourself.

The term was officially entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017, where it was defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”.

A woman sits on a bed with a laptop in a warm and cozy bedroom

How Has Hygge Developed?

As a Nordic country, Denmark has mild summers, but the weather in winter regularly dips down below freezing, with very short periods of sunlight. In December, sunset can come as early as 3 pm, leaving plenty of time for indoor pursuits.

Despite the long, cold winters, Denmark is regularly among the top countries surveyed in the annual World Happiness Report, which many people attribute to their intentional attitudes about hygge, including spending time with friends and doing things that keep them feeling joyful, even in the winter.

A framed print of a warm, minimalist abstract art piece sitting on a shelf next to some books

How You Can Bring the Concept of Hygge into Your Home

Since its introduction to the United States, Americans have been eager to define hygge as a set of purchases you can make, a color palette, or even an Instagram filter preset. However, hygge is about so much more than that. To bring hygge into your home, you need to think about how you can cultivate a safe, warm, and comfortable communal space. It’s tempting to lump the concept of hygge into the Nordic design aesthetic, but in reality, it’s more about your own preferences and the things you need to feel cozy at home.

Some ideas of where you can start include adding plenty of personal touches to your home, like family photos, mementos of past trips, and artwork that reminds you of loved ones.

It’s a lot easier to unwind and feel comfortable if your space is conducive to relaxation. This can mean adding blankets and pillows or re-arranging your furniture to create a space where people can gather. You can also use light to create a more hyggeligt space by skipping harsh overhead fixtures and opting for candlelight, firelight, or the layered light of lamps around your seating area.

A framed print of a warm abstract painting sitting on a shelf

Create Meaningful Art with Canvas on Demand

Bring hygge into your home by adding personal touches that make you feel happy and content. At Canvas on Demand, there are lots of ways to print and display your most treasured memories, including gorgeous canvas prints, metal wall displays, and customizable artwork. It’s easy to choose your favorites which are then shipped to your door, ready to be displayed. Shop online today to explore all of the options you can choose for your home.