“Hygge” and the Danish Roots of Cohousing

If you browse around Denmark’s official tourism website, you may come across an article on the art of hygge. The word (pronounced ‘hooga’) may seem strange to American ears, but the concept of hygge is very familiar to anyone who has ever spent time in a cohousing community, and certainly to the members of Phoenix Commons. It is roughly translated as ‘coziness’, but as the website explains, it’s actually more than that:

In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. (VisitDenmark.com)

So hygge is basically the cozy feeling one gets from sharing good food and conversation with a supportive, trustworthy group of folks. This feeling can be found around the world, wherever lives are bonded tightly together through the habitual breaking of bread and meeting of minds. At our members’ gatherings, hygge frequently manifests itself as laughter, people doing nice things for each other, and time flying by much faster than usual. That’s a lot of meaning packed into a single 5-letter word!

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