gif: denmark

How ‘hygge’ can help you get through winter from MNN - Mother Nature Network

Denmark isn’t short on reasons to be happy. Its population is only about 2 percent of the United States’, but its per capita gross domestic product is four spots ahead of the U.S. at No. 6 in the world. Its citizens enjoy easy access to health care, low crime, high gender equality and relatively clean air (half of Copenhagen residents commute by bicycle). They also get at least five weeks of paid vacation per year, which probably helps morale.

But beyond all that, Denmark endures dreary winters with the help of an arcane cultural concept known as “hygge.” It’s not an easy word for outsiders to pronounce — it sounds sort of like HYU-gah — and it’s even harder to translate. Hygge apparently has no direct analogue in English, and related words like “coziness,” “togetherness” and “well-being” only cover a fraction of its nebulous definition. Still, in hopes of shedding light on Denmark’s world-class happiness, here’s a closer look at the hazy nature of hygge…