Hygge was the first word of Danish we learned, which says a lot about how important it is to the Danish culture. Directly translated, hygge means "socialize", but it's mostly used to describe a pleasant, cozy or comfortable place or time. Candles, good friends, music, comfort food and drinks all add to a feeling of hygge.
The sun set at 4:02 p.m. today, November 16. The shortest days are still to come and we are trying to adjust to the long nights. It's rumored that Danes use the most candles in the world (who keeps these stats?), and in trying to assimilate to our new culture (ha!), we have already whipped through an entire package of IKEA tea lights trying to add a touch of hygge to our house in the long, dark evenings.
Christmas, or Jul in Danish, is a big hygge time. The jul season seems to start earlier than the Christmas season in the US, with people eagerly beginning crafts, attending jul brunches and browsing julemarkeds for just the right ornaments in early November. The julemarkeds are what I've most been looking forward to. I loved the Christmas markets of Vienna and Germany, with their gluhwein and marzipan cookies. So far, these Christmas markets seem to be on a smaller scale, but I've yet to see Tivoli in all its Christmas glory. Yesterday, the baby and I made good use of the waning sunshine and wandered through the Nyhavn Christmas market.
Christmas ornaments and advent calendars for sale at the stalls.
I grew up loving the anticipation of adding a new ornament to our homemade advent calendar each day in December, but after seeing the advent calendars here, I realize I was being shorted! Who knew that kids across the world from me were getting toys each day! The stores are flooded with all types of advent calendars, from Haribo gummy candies to chocolate to even Lego advent calendars! Holy cow, my 8 year old self really wishes I'd spent Christmases in Denmark.
Despite the cold temperatures, outdoor seating at Nyhavn is still the best for a hygge time. The Danes do it up with candles, heat lamps, Irish coffee and blankets on every chair.
Gorgeous knit sweaters and mittens at a julemarked stall.
One thing we missed in Japan that we are getting plenty of here in Denmark is good microbrews. There are lots of small batch beers that remind us of home in Oregon. For Christmas, the Danish julebryg (pronounced yool brew) goes on sale in November. To kick off the julebryg season, the last day in October is a national celebration known as J Day, where Tuborg employees drive around singing Christmas beer songs and deliver free julebryg to bar patrons. Very hygge. Unfortunately, some celebrations you have to sacrifice when you have a baby.
And finally, what says hygge better than a baby in a fleece suit in a cute wood hut?