Are you wanting to get a true insight to the Danish culture? Then you have to understand Hygge.
What is Hygge? If you haven’t read the New York Times Best Seller “The Little Book of Hygge” about Hygge then you don’t really know what the heck this “Hygge” is…like me! When we arrived in Denmark, I wanted to get a non-tourist insight into Denmark. Why be driven to understand culture? Well, this time around it was personal for me. Both sides of my family strongly are from Denmark so this trip for me was like coming back to the “homeland” for myself and my daughter because we have such a strong heritage tie to Denmark and the Nordic countries.
When I was researching all the amazing things to do in Denmark and more specifically Copenhagen on Get Your Guide I found a “Hygge and Happiness” Tour. I thought that it sounded very interesting for a few reasons:
- There was a walking tour – always a solid option
- Food was involved – key when traveling with littles and when wanting to taste through cultures as well
- It described an insight to the true Danish culture and mindset
All of those sounded pretty solid to me – so I booked it!
Walking through Copenhagen with a tour guide who wanted to share Danish history as well as some fun parts of history – it was PERFECT! Our guide shared stories about King Christian IV and how he was a party animal and loved to be over the top when it came to EVERYTHING! Even down to Rosenborg castle that has a secret hiding place for the castle key in the back entrance so the King could sneak, drunkenly, back into the palace! I feel like this is a King that I could be friends with now!
So what is hygge and why is it so important to the Danes?
They believe in being in the moment. Selfcare here isn’t just reserved for Sundays – it is a lifestyle. The definition of Hygge is:
It literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present. That’s why so many people distill ‘hygge’ down to being a ‘feeling’ – because if you don’t feel hygge, you probably aren’t using the word right.
Another definition of hygge is “an art of creating intimacy” (either with yourself, friends, and your home). While there’s no one English word or simple definition to describe hygge, several can be used interchangeably to describe the idea of hygge such as coziness, charm, happiness, ‘contentedness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.
Danes created hygge because they were trying to survive boredom, cold, dark, and sameness. The undefinable feeling of hygge was a way for them to find moments to celebrate, acknowledge and break up the mundane or harsh. With so many cold, dark, days, the simple act of lighting a candle and enjoying a cup of coffee could make a huge difference to one’s spirit.
Imagine an entire country of people who believe in taking care of your mental wellbeing every single day.
This isn’t just for a home status either. Hygge is implemented in getting coffee with friends, getting started on your workday. Why has Denmark counted the happiest country? Because of Hygge! It isn’t just when you put out coffee, with a candle and a blanket, it is a mindset. It is understanding that being in the moment with your friends or family is better than sitting on your phone in a room with loved ones. Hygge is about being recharged mentally and emotionally.
Back to the tour! We met up in the old Navy neighborhood housing, which interestingly enough, is still owned by the military and still houses many military families today! These ancient homes make me appreciate that I never had to stay in the barracks for long as a Sailor and that we aren’t required to stay in mandatory military housing.
After we wandered through these old neighborhoods close to the fort we stopped in for our first treat of the day. A Danish pastry! Did you know that most of the pastries that you see in Denmark today are from Austria? In 1850 there was a baker’s strike, and the country became desperate for their bread and pastries again (I totally understand that struggle)! So as the history books tell us, many bakers came from Austria with their recipes to train new bakers.
Before you ask, what the USA knows about “Danish pastry” is TOTALLY wrong. No one in Denmark can figure out how the US came up with the name or the recipe associated with their country. So, if you think that you can go to Denmark to eat as many “Danishes” that you can stomach…think again! However, if you want something that is mouthwatering that is a Danish pastry (still brought from Austria but they claim it now) then you need to order a Frøsnapper. There are two versions of this (at least that I tried) one is twisted like a pretzel and the other is like a cinnamon roll. Between the flakes of puff pastry is an almond sweet filling that has your mouth watering just reading the description!
After we left the amazing bakery, we headed to the gardens behind Rosenborg castle, here you can visit the gardens that King Christian IV created for himself to enjoy some fresh air but was walled in away from his subjects – yeah real charming guy. But then it was opened to the public and now you can take a pleasant stroll through these beautiful gardens that lead your right past the back gate of Rosenborg castle.
The next stop was to enjoy an amazing Danish treat of Flødeboller. This is a chocolate-covered, marzipan-filled treat that you HAVE to try during your visit. Our guide took us into a little hidden courtyard where you can see how the original historical houses were built and then how they impossibly added more additions onto the existing houses to help expand the area. This is a small corner of the city where you can see history stacked on itself!
The journey continued to the front steps of parliament. Our guide stopped here for a very important purpose. To talk about how, in Denmark, they ensure to emphasize how the people have a voice. We hear this in many countries when it is the voting season “your vote matters” “let your voice be heard” but here they take that seriously.
Finally, the tour ended by walking down the oldest street in Copenhagen to a little coffee shop where our guide sat us down to really explain what hygge is and why it is so important to the Danish community and culture.
Do you think that this tour sounds like it was worth it? Yeah…I thought so! Book here: “Hygge and Happiness” Tour
If you are ever visiting Copenhagen, then you need to book this tour! It was a great way to start a trip and a wonderful way to see the city at the same time!
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