Danish experts warn of ‘hygge-junkie’ health risk

Danish health experts have warned that the country’s so-called “hygge-junkies” are exposing themselves and others to serious health risks.

Danish experts warn of 'hygge-junkie' health risk
Burning candles like the Danes is dangerous. Photo: Peter Mortensen|Flickr
'Hygge', the Danish obsession usually translated into English as “cosiness”, is this year’s global life-style trend.
So many books are being published on it in English this year (nine at last count), that one enterprising publisher has even rushed out a spoof version, “Say Ja to Hygge: How to find your special cosy place“. 
But rather than helping devotees improve their mental health via hot chocolate, subdued lighting, and low-key comfy furniture, as the new prophets of hygge claim, could it actually risk killing them? 
Lars Gunnarsson, a professor at the Danish Building Research Institute, warns that the the pursuit of hygge at all costs has pushed Danish consumption of candles to a dangerous high. 
“In Denmark we are amongst the world’s highest consumers of candles. It is quite extreme in an international context that we use so many,” he told TV2. 
“I can see that this “hygge-junkie” conduct is very widely spread, judging by what I see among the people around me, and there’s no doubt that the particles given off by candles are very, very powerful.” 
Gunnarsson warned that perhaps a majority of the 3,000 Danes  who die each year as a result of particle pollution suffered their main exposure as a result of excess candle-burning. 
“Candles could easily risk dominating all that,” he said. “And it’s only a little luxury and an old tradition which we can easily give up.” 
Jørn Toftum, associate professor at the Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy at thet Technical University of Denmark, explained the risks hygge devotees were undergoing. 
“Candles make a lot of particles when they burn, and those particles enter the lungs,” he told TV2. “Some of the particles are so tiny that they completely exit the deepest lung tissue and enter our bloodstream.” 


How hygge is misunderstood in the English language (in one Twitter thread)

An incisive Twitter thread took apart misunderstandings of the concept of hygge and its dubious grammatical usage in English. See whether you agree with the analysis.

How hygge is misunderstood in the English language (in one Twitter thread)
Hygge? Not necessarily. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Hygge entered the Oxford English Dictionary a while back now, and countless numbers of Anglophone books have been written about the concept.

But while the concept remains an interest – and aspiration – for many in the English-speaking world, the word itself is more mundane than you might think when used in its original language.

London-based Danish comedian, author and activist Sofie Hagen ripped through what she called “making a wrong about ‘hygge’” in a sharply-worded Twitter thread, posted in response to a headline in the Observer which incorrectly used ‘hygge’ as a countable noun.

Hagen did not hold back on incorrect pronunciations she has come across and wrote that she had even been corrected for pronouncing the word in her native tongue.



She then explained that hygge does not just mean 'cosy' as it is often translated, but encompasses a wide range of expressions and situations.



The comedian also had a few things to say about Danes' ability to cut through polite niceties and get to the point.



She was also prepared to voice criticism of her home country.

A commenter noted that, in their defence, the Observer may have been trying a pun with 'hygge' standing in for 'hug'. That did little to make the London-based Dane feel better about the offending headline.


What do you think? Should English-language media and publishers rein in their hygge fixation — at least until they understand it properly? Or is it okay for a concept to take on a new form in other cultures and languages? How do you view Hagen's assessment of Danish attitudes to feminism? Do you appreciate the directness of Danes or do you miss hearing words like 'please' and 'pardon'? Let us know — we'd love to hear your thoughts.

READ ALSO: It's official: 'hygge' is now an English word