Hygge – the fuzzy, snuggly contented phenomenon that swept the globe in 2016, gained extensive media coverage, and spawned hordes of hygge–inspired books, blankets, sweaters and candles. In the same year, hygge was even on the list of new words entered into the English dictionary, along with ‘Brexit’ and ‘post-truth’. While the Danish concept cannot be translated into a single word, it encompasses a mood and atmosphere of cosiness and comfort.
But it’s more than just a buzzword. Now that it’s been brought to the world’s attention, Denmark would like for its value as a remedy to modern anxieties officially recognised. Meik Wiking, founder and CEO of The Happiness Research Institute is supporting the bid. “With increasing societal pressures and the growing importance of wellbeing, hygge’s emphasis on togetherness and equality can have real and tangible benefits, not only to the Danish people but to anyone that practises this uniquely Danish social ritual”.
With hygge on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list, the Danish team responsible for the application, hopes that the benefits of hygge will become even more widespread and more authentically practiced, offering a drop of Danish happiness to people around the world. In the coming months, VisitDenmark and a small group of hygge experts will be working with communities, families and individual Danes to capture the essence of hygge, and all the wonderful ways it comes to life.
“We’re excited to kick start our ambition and talk to people about what they define as a hyggelig experience” says Dennis Englund, Market Director, VisitDenmark UK & US.
The UNESCO bid coincides with a recent VisitDenmark campaign inviting tourists to experience the transformational effects of hygge for themselves. It positions hygge as the “Danish antidote” to the everyday pressures of modern life. The campaign reminds people that hygge is an intangible feeling that you cannot buy in a shop.
“The importance of intangible cultural heritage is that you have to live it”, adds Meik Wiking. “While it’s something we inherit from our past, Hygge is absolutely relevant today and will have real value long into our future.”