Making room for others is rarely easy. If truth be told, our lives are complicated, overscheduled, and just plain busy. Invitational living often feels like a burdensome extra. But our homes hold a valuable secret the world longs to know: God is good and loving and true. Every time we open our doors in hospitality to our family, friends, and neighbors, we have an opportunity to point them to the open arms of his Son. With the help of hygge, you and I can share the generous hope of Jesus with others, no matter how cluttered and chaotic our days seem to be.
A HISTORY OF HYGGE
Hygge (pronounced HYOO-guh) is a funny word. With its Danish underpinnings, it’s certainly not one that rolls off our American tongues very easily. To add more confusion, it doesn’t translate well. Perhaps that’s because we have no English version of it. To the Danes, hygge is comfort. Hygge is consolation. It’s a way of enjoying the simple pleasures of life, of finding value and meaning in things that often feel mundane, of being content with what you have and who you’re with. Hygge is about feeling perfectly at home in an imperfect home.
Although hygge has historically been practiced by the Danish people, it’s actually a Norwegian word that’s loosely connected to our English, “hug.” It’s no wonder then that hygge has strong ties to physical comfort. As believers, when we hygger with others, we share the touch of Christ in their lives. We find tangible ways to cacoon them in our family culture and our lineage of faith. We slow down. We see people and allow them to see us too.
HYGGE IS A KIND COMPANION IN OUR FAITH
Admittedly, you won’t find hygge in the Bible. But when you peel back the surface layers of this Scandinavian practice, you find seven tenets at its core: hospitality, thriving relationships, well-being, a welcoming atmosphere, comfort, contentment, and rest—all things that are modeled in the person of Christ and in the abundant life he calls us to. Not surprisingly, this cultural liturgy has landed the Danish people in one of the top three spots on the European Commission’s well-being and happiness index for the past forty years.
As Christ followers, we know that our happiness is an overflow of the hope that we have in him. The hygge we provide in our homes can be an outward display of the inward change Jesus has made in our lives (Matt. 5:16).
When we hygger, we create a space that feels like a sanctuary—a home where everyone feels welcome. It helps us live simply, focusing our attention on people more than possessions. We can host without feeling the pressure to entertain. Hygge leaves no room for apologizing for the food we’re serving or the conditions of our home. It recognizes that genuine care is always appreciated no matter how plain or pristine its packaging. It forces us to remember that people hunger for more than just a perfect meal—they crave connection. We can break bread with others with no regrets, paving the way for the Bread of Life to nourish their souls.
HYGGE CAN BE HOLY WORK
Through our hygge, we can invest deeply in our family, friends, and neighbors, building bonds of trust. People can feel free to bring their whole selves to the relationship. Even the messy and fragile parts. Like you and me, they long to be loved without condition. Hygge helps us provide care to all of God’s image-bearers. Not just the ones who look like us and act like us. Not just the ones that are easy to love. To everyone.
A hyggelig lifestyle embodies the uniqueness of every part of the year, seeping itself in the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and traditions of all four seasons. This is so much more than buying fifteen pumpkins each fall. It means we no longer have to claw and clamor for what’s out of reach nor continue to add more and more to our spaces. Instead, we can be conscious consumers, appreciating everything in its season. We can steward our belongings with eternity in mind, recognizing that everything we own belongs to God. What he shares with us, we can lavishly share with others.
Hygge helps us to see our homekeeping as holy work. The mundane tasks of loading the dishwasher, changing the sheets, and folding the laundry are all opportunities to serve others and to work “as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23–24). Our faithfulness in the little things reveals our commitment to Christ in big ways. When we hygger, we turn the mundane and necessary into something more meaningful and beautiful. We walk out the words of Matthew 5:16b which reads, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Our careful consideration in our everyday responsibilities then becomes quite captivating to the world.
HYGGE REVEALS THE REDEMPTION OF JESUS
Let’s not forget that our homes hold our stories and legacies. Hygge not only helps us savor all our memories but also share them with others. When we invite others in, we not only usher them into our present but also our past. We don’t have to secret our real selves and our real brokenness away. Our guests get to see the redemptive work that Christ has done on our behalf.
Hygge can help us step into each day with intentionality, seeing every moment as a gift from God. It helps us show up in radical ways. When their world totters and begins to crumble, our friends and neighbors can experience the indescribable comfort of Jesus through our hands. Additionally, hygge teaches us to use the resources that God has given us—our time, talents, energies, and even finances—to provide for those who need it the most. It compels us to give laser focus to whatever God has put right in front of us this moment, this hour, this day.
HYGGE ISN’T NECESSARY, BUT IT HELPS
To be clear, hygge won’t convict hearts or lead anyone to repentance in faith. It won’t give you nor I the right words to say when the hurting ones wonder, “Why?” Alone, hygge is just mere veneer. But when informed by the gospel, it can provide practical tools to help us stand shoulder to shoulder with others. It can be a gentle partner for pointing our friends and neighbors to the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). It can help us make small tweaks to our outer lives so that we might create an environment for real and lasting change in the inner lives of those we love most. It can help us nurture homes rooted in Christ—homes where people can feel their way to God and find him (Acts 17:27). Hygge may not be necessary for the life of a Christian, but it sure helps.
Meet the Author
When she’s not curating memories, hoarding vintage books, or playing ringmaster to her circus of five blissfully abnormal kids, Jamie Erickson can be found encouraging and equipping a growing tribe of mothers all across the globe on the Mom to Mom podcast, through her blog The Unlikely Homeschool, at national conferences, and in her book Holy Hygge: Creating a Place for People to Gather and the Gospel to Grow.