Us English speakers don’t have a word for it. Hygge is Danish, and this website explains what it means to Danes.
The German equivalent is Gemütlichkeit. The Swedes call it gemytlig – very close to the German word.
It doesn’t have to be about a warm cosy fire and friends or family. It can be about a solitary moment in a beautiful, peaceful spot.
I got thinking about Stockholm the other night, for some unknown reason. It is one of my favourite cities, and for me it is well suited to gemytlig. Without trying, I can remember 2 gemytlig moments on my last trip – June 10.
One was having lunch on an old steamer returning from a trip down to Vaxholm in the archipelago. I’ve already blogged about that.
The other was just sitting by myself in a quiet wee square on busy Gamla stan, right in the middle of the city.
Where else has created that feeling for me?
Findhorn works its spell for me every time.
It could be sitting at the end of the pier watching the tide. It might be sitting on the terrace of the Kimberley enjoying a Buckie crab salad on a sunny summer day. The village is steeped in a lifetime of family memories, so usually that helps. Sometimes it hinders.
It can happen anywhere. The other Saturday we stumbled upon a wee cafe in Nürnberg, just below the castle. Prime tourist area, but this place is French. Provençale even. The blues and yellows of the Côte d’Azur amid the grey & white of a Bavarian December. Warm, friendly atmosphere. Good food & service. Gemütlich.
The irony is that our visit to the city coincided with the start of the famous Christkindlmarkt. It tries so hard to create the Gemütlich feeling, and fails totally (in my view). Too busy, and too touristy. I enjoyed seeing it, but not my cup of tea.