Scandinavia had brought us the buzzwords of the current decade - hygge and lagom. Last year, it was still all about the Danish hygge, but this year the Swedish lagom fad attempted a sneaky takeover. It might have left you wondering - what’s the actual difference between the two ways of Scandinavian living? Believe me, initially, I was confused as well. But after a little research, it all seems a bit clearer. So let me enlighten you all about these two trendy phenomena - hygge vs. lagom.
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word that essentially means ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being’, according to the Oxford English dictionary. The way I understand it, hygge is a very slow concept. It’s all about being in the moment and feeling happy with what you have at that time, be it with friends or family, or by yourself. Combined with that is feeling cosy. You might have heard of the bestselling book by Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, which describes hygge as a sensation - you just know when you feel hygge. You can experience this feeling when having a delicious meal with friends, or when you’re snuggled up with your partner on the sofa, or when drinking a cup of hot chocolate by candlelight. It’s really quite simple.
"You don’t want a cup of tea that’s cold or too hot, you want it to be just right. In a nutshell, that’s pretty much what lagom is."
Lagom, on the other hand, is a Swedish word that stands for ‘just the right amount’. Again, it’s a uniquely Scandinavian word that doesn’t have an English equivalent. It derives from a fairly similar attitude to hygge, as it is about being content with what you have and enjoying the simple things. You don’t need too much, you don’t need to little: just the right amount is often best. Minimalist YouTubers called The Mustards explain it by comparing the concept to water and beverages. You don’t want a cup of tea that’s cold or too hot, you want it to be just right. In a nutshell, that’s pretty much what lagom is. They also discuss how minimalism goes really well with lagom, because it is also about having just the right amount of things for living. So if you ever wonder why Scandinavians are so chill: it’s because lagom (or hygge) is so ingrained into their daily lives.
I guess I have taken these buzzwords as ‘trends’ rather than something to take seriously and assemble your life around. When you live in a cold climate, you learn to love cosiness and simple things. Like today. It didn’t snow too much or too little - it snowed lagom. And I made a cup of tea and lit a candle for some hygge. However, I love that these have become a trend because it invites people to slow down. And it’s what we truly need in life today. There’s so much joy in being content with the little things. What could be the trend for 2018, you wonder? I suggest the Icelandic ‘Þetta reddast’ which translates into ‘it will all work out okay’. Let’s all just relax the next year. Everything will work out. In the meantime, be cosy and feel just right.