I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Danish word, pronounced “hue-guh” that has suddenly entered our vocabulary and our culture. I don’t even think that I was aware of the impact on us until I noticed that our oldest niece, Jessica, who lives in London, was spending the week-end in Denmark and was commenting about “hygge.”
In a way, that makes perfect sense because “hygge” is, in fact, a Danish word and there is no easy English translation although we have a number of words in our language that can approximate the idea of “hygge” and you will understand it, or at least the concept of it, by the end of this post.
You see, Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries of Norway, Finland and even Sweden spend a fair amount of time during the winter in darkness and the local residents had to come up with a way to pass the boredom and depression of the winter months. So they developed a system of taking ordinary events and making them “special.” For example, instead of a regular cup of coffee on a cold, winter morning, how about serving it in a fine china cup, lighting a candle and basking in the morning ritual of solitude watching the flames flicker off the walls and ceiling… or inviting friends for dinner and just reveling in the lively art of intimate conversation…
I know these things sound simple, and to a large extent they are, but the idea of “hygge” is to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. There are many definitions, as I mentioned above, but by and large, the idea of “hygge” is “the art of creating warmth, comfort and well-being.” It contains an element of coziness and has even been defined as the “pursuit of everyday happiness.”
You would think that we all could figure this out without too much trouble, but that fact is that the Danish population has made this a lifestyle. Something had to happen to pass the cold, dreary, dark winter months and they have developed the practice to an art form. In fact, people from Denmark, in spite of their geographical location, are among the happiest people on the planet and it didn’t happen by accident.
One of my concerns is that we, in this country, are so consumed with finishing what we are doing to get to the next thing, rarely understand the positive effects of practicing “hygge.” Interestingly, other words that have also been used to describe this posture are contentedness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship and simpleness. Now I’m not the first person to discuss this phenomenon. Immigrants from Denmark have brought “hygge” to the United States and have even begun to spread to the concept here.
The fact that our niece is being exposed to “hygge” on Danish soil this weekend caused me to think about the concept in greater detail than I might normally. And, of course, my mind wandered into thinking about God and our relationship with Him and how the idea of make the ordinary extraordinary could have divine implications for us as Christians.
Normally, we rush through our devotions and check the box for most most of the spiritual things in our lives, even including our attendance in church. Our prayers can tend to be a litany of things that we want for ourselves as opposed to the idea of praise and worship of the Creator of the universe. And how much more fruitful would our time with God be if we took the time and created the atmosphere, cozy elements and all, that would allow our environment to be transformed into something special – warm and content…safe, secure, familiar and simple… Don’t you think that is what God wants from us? A deep relationship filled with authenticity and genuine care. And wouldn’t it be great if we could carry it to an art form – our own kind of Christian “hygge.”
The verse for this evening is from the author of Hebrews. When we experience warmth, coziness, comfort and all the other things we all long for, you could say that we experience divine rest. That’s what Jesus wants for us – to rest in Him. We are told, in Hebrews 4:1, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said…”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to practice “hygge” with Him. My prayer is that you can let your problems go and just revel in making the ordinary experiences with Jesus truly extraordinary. Trust Him – you won’t be disappointed. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…