A repat’s recommendation: Autumn in Denmark calls for Hygge

Us Danes like to hygge all year around, but autumn and winter are for many the high seasons of hygge.

A couple of years back whilst living in Perth, my Australian husband received a birthday card from my brother living in Denmark. My husband had often heard about ‘hygge’, without really understanding what it meant. The card read:

Hygge [hue-gah]
Hard to explain and even harder to pronounce
A complete absence of anything emotionally overwhelming
Often enjoyed with food and candles

The card made me laugh. Perhaps it was created by an international, who just like my husband was confused about this ‘hygge’ we Danes mention so often. For years, I had been lighting candles at night to create the hygge experience – especially around Christmas time. But I had to admit the experience of candlelight hygge wasn’t quite the same in 38 degrees sunshine. It wasn’t until my husband visited Denmark during autumn that he felt the sense of hygge. Hygge is a feeling you create and something that needs to be embraced. Hygge is coziness at a high level. It’s happiness, contentment, and enjoyment of the simple things in life.

Autumn and winter are for many the high seasons of hygge

Us Danes like to hygge all year around, but autumn and winter are for many the high seasons of hygge. Hygge is everywhere you create it, such as outside enjoying a hot chocolate while watching the kids play in the autumn leaves, or it can be inside rugged up in a cozy blanket looking at the fireplace while listening to your favorite tunes. Hygge can also be a warm meal shared with family and friends.

Everyone has their own perception of hygge and their own experience of it. I encourage you to embrace hygge this autumn too. You could for example join one of our Night Outs, where you get to ‘hygge’ with other internationals at one of Aarhus’ best Italian restaurants. Also, don’t forget to save the date for our Christmas Party on December 10th, where we guarantee an afternoon full of hygge and Christmas cheer. 

From hygge to uhygge

Halloween is just around the corner. Halloween is quite a new tradition in Denmark but has proven popular especially among young people and families, who dress up, decorate their houses, and go trick and treating. Many shops are selling Halloween decorations, Halloween sweets and costumes. As pumpkin is in season, there are also places around Aarhus that have “pluk selv” (pick your own pumpkin), which many people take advantage of.

Should you happen to pass a cemetery (!) the first Sunday after Halloween and you notice lights on some of the graves, it is not leftover candles from Halloween. It’s the celebration of Allehelgen, an old Christian celebration of the people who has passed, which is often accompanied by a church service.   

The candles, the hygge - that’s Danish autumn

This year will be my family’s first full Danish autumn and winter. Sure, there will be days where they miss the Australian sun, but the changing colors of autumn, the crisp fresh air, the fireplace, the cozy blankets, the candles, the hygge - that’s Danish autumn, and that’s its own kind of wonderful.  

I hope you’ll enjoy autumn too. We have lots of interesting events in the calendar for you, so we hope to see you around.

Written by repat and new International Coordinator Marianne Condelli