Warming Up to Hygge

If you’ve ever sought respite from Wisconsin’s frigid winter in a cozy blanket, hot drink or conversation around a crackling fire, you’ve experienced hygge.

Pronounced “hoo-guh” or “hue-guh,” with no direct translation in English, hygge is a Danish concept that implies a sense of warmth and wellbeing. It’s the ability to slow down and enjoy a cozy moment, especially with loved ones.

“My definition is ‘pleasant togetherness,’” says Claus Elholm Andersen, the Paul and Renate Madsen assistant professor of Scandinavian Studies in the Department of German, Nordic and Slavic.

An expert on the literature and culture of Denmark, where he was born, as well as the works of Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, Andersen says Danes plan these pleasant, relaxed times, enjoy them in the moment and talk about them afterward.

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