Why hygge is no longer ‘hygge’

It’s the concept everyone seems to have jumped on this year, whether it’s publishers, journalists, or just the general public. Lauren explains why the commercialisation of hygge is ultimately taking the meaning out of it. 

All the way back in issue three of In The Middle, I wrote about the Danish concept of ‘hygge’; the lovely concept of sitting around the fire, drinking hot chocolate, maybe with a storm raging outside. Having been in Denmark this summer, and having listened to actual Danish people talk to me gleefully about it, I came back to the UK thinking how great I would be if we adopted the concept over here…

Oh, how wrong and naïve I was back then.

The thing is, we’ve gone mad for hygge over here. Whether it’s the innumerable Guardian articles by Brits trying to break down the true meaning of the word, or the fact that Waterstones has entire tables dedicated to all the books written on the concept, it’s everywhere I turn. The nice little hygge bubble I experienced whilst studying in the country has been well and truly popped – so thanks for that. It’s all grimly predictable; Christmas unsurprisingly comes around every year, and companies will always need something new to latch on to and market just in time for the festive season. Maybe every other year I’ve been just as oblivious as everyone else, but with this year’s craze being something close to me, I’ve selfishly managed to actually take notice this year.

When I got back from Denmark, one of the first things I bought was a book on hygge, in some sort of desperate attempt to artificially recreate the happiness of the summer. Now, when you search for hygge on Amazon, you’ll be greeted by a whole array of books on the matter, all of which were released within the last two months. All of these books promise to help you find your special cosy place, rediscover the joy of simple things, or embrace the art of hygge, but the concept of hygge really isn’t so difficult to understand that you need a step-by-step guide to achieve it.

After hearing about hygge on TV, my mum told me that she’d been living the hygge life for ages, and she’s not wrong. That’s the thing with hygge; it’s really not that hardest thing to achieve. As I said in my previous piece, what’s hygge for you isn’t necessarily hygge for someone else, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s all about finding your own little bit of happiness

It’s not exactly a completely unknown concept to the UK. I doubt there would be many people who would be upset at the idea of snuggling up under a blanket on the sofa, Christmas film on the TV, accompanied by a few candles. It’s called being cosy, and it’s called being nice. It’s just that now, publishers, journalists, chefs and everyone else has latched on to the fact that it can be given a simpler name, even though seemingly no one can pronounce it correctly.

Ultimately, commercialising hygge is perhaps the most unhygge thing you can do. How about we just leave it to the Danes, who seem to have the concept pretty much nailed, given that it is theirs after all.

Lauren Davies

(Photo credit: http://www.nieniedialogues.com/2015/12/christmas-eve-in-hygge-fashion.html)

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