What I Learned in Copenhagen


I’m lucky enough to have recently gotten back from a trip to Europe, which is not somewhere I go very often. And this time I went somewhere I’ve never been before – the title is a dead giveaway, but it’s Copenhagen. I fell in love with Copenhagen and Danish culture almost immediately. I had a feeling I would like it, but I really didn’t know what else to expect and there was an almost immediate sense of belonging. It’s a beautiful old city of history, fairy tales (the home of Hans Christian Andersen), bicycles, and cozy spots to hunker down with a hot cup of coffee.

Copenhagen has a very comfortable vibe, and it’s no doubt with a culture that created their own culture of cozy, called hygge. “Hygge is a feeling you cannot translate” said one of the postcards I saw in town, but it roughly translates to a feeling of warmth, coziness, and comfort wherever you go. Many people have written about the Danish phenomenon of hygge, and Hyggehouse.com writes, “Hygge literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present.” This is an idea embraced by a culture that spends part of the year in almost total darkness, when the sun is only out for a few hours in the coldest parts of winter. Even living in the southern United States, Seasonal Affective Disorder has a hold on a number of people, causing a seasonal bout of depression. While the idea of hygge cannot fix this, it’s a healthy mental state to adopt that can help with not only winter blues, but any day of the year.

I’d gladly go back to Copenhagen any day. The air was chilly, but the attitude was warm, nurturing, and exciting. It’s a city where outdoor cafes provide blankets on their chairs and nearly every building has a bicycle rack outside. If that’s not enough, beautiful modern Scandinavian design is everywhere and mixes seamlessly with the ornate traditional architecture of the buildings. If you ever have a chance, stop over in Denmark and see what it’s all about.