See some of my essays and talks on hygge here.
I did PhD and post doc research on hygge. I carried out extensive ethnographic research on how Danes relate to home, togetherness and family life, and how hygge influences the consumption of leisure, hospitality, food and drinks.
I define hygge as the experience, in a particular situation, of social relations and physical conditions that allow one to be present, in a way that feels unhurried and authentic way.
One could also define hygge as an atmosphere that allows dwelling. My definition of hygge has simplified over time, as I have worked with the topic from different angles. Read earlier thoughts on a definition here.
Beyond attempts at a definition, these are five common facets to hygge:
- Hygge feels spontaneous. This is because one is able to decode and navigate the conventions of that local world, in which one perceives hygge. In some way, one is at home there.
- Closely related to the point above, hygge is characterized by that which is close and well-known, and created by means, that are immediately accessible in everyday life. (Thus I entitled my first scientific article on the phenomenon Money can´t buy me hygge).
- A hygge situation is devoid of conflict or the use of force, and of clear-cut demands to provide anything in return for one´s presence. (In a larger perspective though, hosting someone for a hyggelig evening will often lead one to expect a similar hospitality from guests in the future).
- Hygge is always characterized by contrast: A break from relations that are impersonal, or marked by stress and competition. Typically in a middle-class life, hygge is a pause from work. But it could also be a break with friends from a stressful family life.
- Hygge is usually a social experience, but does not have to be. Hobbies like gardening, painting, cooking or playing an instrument are typical examples of solo-hygge, so is the absorption into a good book or TV series.