Last month online magazine Get the Gloss wrote a feature on "hygge", which generally captures the spirit of the phenomenon surprisingly well. And as a native Norwegian I will assume the authority to make that statement. I've since found numerous articles written in the last 12 months in newspapers, blogs and glossy magazines about this topic - "what does it mean", "do you have it", "how to", "why should we replicate hygge" and so on.
But why is the world suddenly going crazy for the simple ways of the Scandinavian cultures? To be honest, I am just glad that people are talking about something other than Ikea and Volvo for a change.
Hygge is a very common word in the Scandinavian languages and I can't actually come up with an English counterpart. Probably because it captures a genuinely Nordic phenomenon and maybe even a way of life. Hygge is a rather subjective term as it depends on what you enjoy doing, so in that sense, hygge can be a lot of different things to different people.
To me, it is about family, friends, nature, candles, blankets, reading, coffee and baked goods, I mean - have you tried vafler, boller or skolebrød? There should be pictures of these next to the word "hygge" in the dictionary. Also, what is hygge, if not for coffee! In my family, and probably in most Scandinavian families, not much will happen without coffee.
In general, though, I think the essence of hygge is about taking the time to fully enjoy something without being worried or stressed about other aspects of your life. It is about creating that beautifully warm and fuzzy atmosphere where you feel utterly happy. I also believe it is about enjoying the simple things in life with the ones you love.
So yes, I would say that the world can definitely learn a thing or two from us Scandis; take a step back, separate the different facets of your life and commit to the enjoyment you find in simple things. This sounds very wishy washi and cliché like, but be in the moment and allow yourself to focus on one thing at a time.
I've certainly had to remind myself of this way of thinking since leaving Norway!
I'd love to hear what "hygge" looks like to you :)