Hygge around the worldFriday 09 December 2016 by Florence Evans As one of the of the Oxford dictionary's Words of the Year 2016 - you may just have heard about hygge by now, or as we like to call it, 'Hu-Ga'. Hygge can be applied to anything - its more of a feeling or a mood than a particular word – but it can be described as “cosiness” or “togetherness”. We love the potential of hygge, that's why we've come up with what this concept means all around the world.
The French – well known for being either incredibly relaxed or frustratingly rigid – live by ‘joie de vivre’ (the joy of living) and consciously choose to express joy and celebrate life whenever they can. They take long lunch breaks and savour taking time to socialise and enjoy food with friends. When it comes to food and drink, they value quality over quantity - shopping daily for the freshest bread and finest wine. They have a love for healthy debate and as they spend time in each other’s company they welcome differences of opinion. There are elements of hygge in ‘joie de vivre’ – even more so with that generous work life balance!
First and foremost, Italians value la famiglia, the family. Centred around the ‘mamma’ - families in Italy do everything together, always finding the time to enjoy large meals, debates and quality time. People of Italy receive others joyfully and take people in as part of their family.
Italians have a very hygge attitude towards time. They don’t get caught up in clock watching and believe it’s more important to enjoy the moment than to rush about. Hygge to an Italian would most definitely be enjoying good red wine whilst surrounded by all members of la famiglia.
The Spanish spend a great deal of time socialising, whether it’s their ‘siesta’ in the daytime or time off in the evenings. Staple Spanish food like paella and tapas are designed to be shared, as a nation the Spanish really come together over food. Obviously, the weather in Spain can be quite different than that of the Nordic regions, but hygge is a lifestyle found anywhere Whether it’s feeling the warm sand between your toes on the beach or jumping over waves with the family, being outdoors and appreciating nature is a big part of hygge, and a big part of the Spanish way of life.
In India there is definitely a culture of ‘togetherness’ – if ever one rickshaw driver lost his way, almost everyone in traffic will chime in with their suggestions. If there is a square peg that needs to go into a round hole, everyone in the room will work together to try and make it fit. Generally family units are fairly large in India and span several generations – this celebration of togetherness is typical of Indian culture and is at the heart of everything they do.
We Brits aren’t quite like our Nordic counterparts – we are less fluffy when it comes to our expectations – however, we do appreciate a little rest and relaxation, in a truly British fashion. Sundays really are our day of rest, we love to cook up a roast with friends and family then retreat to the sofa for some Sunday night TV – be it Downton Abbey or David Attenborough. Hygge can be loosely translated into “cosiness” in English – and whilst we do love a mug of hot chocolate or mulled wine at this time of year, there really is nothing better than a cup of tea.