Loathed as we are to start yet another piece with a mention of the ‘hygge’ phenomenon, there’s no denying it’s been a breakout year for this quintessentially Danish feeling of contentment, which has been the subject of countless books and media scrutiny in 2016.
In mid-November, it lost out to ‘post-truth’ as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, which described it as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)”.
A victim of timing, some might say. Had the vote been post-Christmas instead of post-presidential election, it would have stood a much better chance of winning.
Hygge times ten
After all, nothing can compete with ‘julehygge’ when it’s in full song, contends Vivienne McKee, the founder of the Crazy Christmas Cabaret and CPH POST columnist.
“Julehygge consists of julemad, julebryg, julepynt, julegaver, julenisser, julesang, juleschnapps and the firm’s Christmas party, which is known as the julefrokost,” she explained in her column last December.
“These office parties involve all of the above to excess, and often end a day or a week later. Julehygge is hygge times ten!”
The most important thing to know about julehygge, therefore, isn’t its impenetrable definition, or its alarming tendency to be the cause of everything good and solution to everything bad.
No, it’s the incendiary danger this festive dynamite presents when it’s placed in the wrong hands.
Turn the hygge dial up too high at Christmas time and you risk serious overheating. This could be anything from lighting too many candles or outdoor gas heaters to setting fire to your Christmas tree or the hair of the leader of the Santa Lucia procession.
Without expert guidance from the Danes, your julehygge experience runs the risk of ending in a big fat ‘julebugger’.
Requires expert help
Nobody knows better how important it is to help internationals settling in Denmark to acclimatise to local ways than International House Copenhagen.
As the go-to centre for help with your CPR number and residency paperwork, employment prospects and leisure possibilities, it has become a permanent favourite among the foreign contingent, and now it is turning its attention to julehygge.
In collaboration with CPH POST, itself a resident at IHC since 2013, it is converting its downstairs reception room into a festive fantasy land of snowy roads, spiced shortbread and pleated paper hearts to host the event ‘Christmas Coziness’ on Thursday December 15 at 5 pm.
More the merrier
Everyone is welcome providing you register beforehand on IHC’s homepage at ihcph.kk.dk. Bring family, friends and colleagues – the more the merrier, particularly as it is free entry.
A number of activities await you, including creating your own decorations, tasting some Danish biscuits and singing along to traditional Danish and Anglophone Christmas songs.
Along with fun activities for the children, the actor Ian Burns will be popping by to give us a festive performance or two, as is the big man in red and white, with his ever-giving sack of goodies.
Register to attend here.