Far from feeling pleased with the prospect of the UK embracing one of the best Danish exports since Carlsberg I have instead been feeling a little a bit peeved at the inevitable 'cashing in' from commercialism. It is easy to lose the true essence of hygge and be left with just the material trappings and only a basic understanding of what it really means. One reason for this is the translation itself limits the explanation. Hygge is one of those words that does not translate into English. We do not have an equivilant word and though many put forward 'cosiness' as a sufficient synonym, hygge is far more complex than this twee interpretation suggests. A better explanation might be 'a sense of well-being'; 'being at peace with your own company'; 'a feeling of togetherness in a group of like-minded friends' or 'an appreciation of the simple pleasures in life'.
You do not need to make any expensive purchases of cashmere throws or wildly overpriced candles, neither do you need to install a log burner to achieve hygge. What you do need to invest in, however, is time. That most precious of commodities is key to hygge. Taking time for ourselves, spending quality time with our family, or to gather with friends, is a luxury few of us can afford. Everyone is always trying to cram more and more work into less and less time and the lines between work and play are increasingly blurred. Weekends become the overspill of chores and errands, and even when we do get precious free time we do not feel that going for a walk, having a candle-lit bath or curling up with a good book is somehow a worthy use of it. Real hygge is contentment with 'just being' and I think most British people find it hard to give themselves permission to step off the treadmill and stop the constant multi-tasking.
Hygge is not just for Christnas either. Its introduction to our shores seems to have been inextricably tied together with the season. A real fire, candlelight and fluffy blankets do much to help create a hygge atmosphere but it is possible to experience hygge during the warmer months too. Hygge is just as much about a walk in the spring rain and splashing in April puddles or a summer evening barbecue with friends and watching the sun set.