Hyggelig i Norge: Differences Between Norway and Britain

Hyggelig (or hygge) is a term from Danish culture that describes that feeling of absolute coziness in the midst of long winter nights. You know, books, tea and a snuggly blanket. But hyggelig goes beyond that. It’s more than one’s physical surroundings. It’s a state of mind and Scandinavian countries are renowned for their ability to find comfort when sunlight is a furtive commodity. After a short trip to Norway I have noticed several things that make it so different from Britain, where I’ve been residing for a while now:

  1. Hyggelig does exist and it has the force to startle you the minute you step foot on that old Viking land. Or maybe it’s due to my expectation to feel that way. I don’t know. But this feeling definitely didn’t come from the Norwegian people themselves, but their way of living a simple yet meaningful live. They seem to know life is in the little things and do not disappoint themselves always waiting for something big to happen.
  2. British strangers tend to say “Sorry!” even if your gaze meets on the street or if you get within one meter of each other in a shop, at least from my experience. Not the Norwegians! If by any chance you happen to be in someone’s way they don’t say anything, but they slowly creep behind you until you feel ashamed or until they just walk by at a very close distance.
  3. Just because it rains (a lot) in some countries it doesn’t mean homes are necessarily moldy. Britain should learn this from Norway. In the UK, so many houses that are out for rent have this problem and even at very high prices the quality of the flats doesn’t even compare to that of other countries. Seriously, the UK has the worst taste in interior design I have ever seen in my life! Most of the times £700 per month (bills and council tax not included) for a flat in southern England doesn’t even get you a place with cheap IKEA furniture. On the other hand, in Norway most buildings seems to be well insulated against moisture and decorated with very simple, yet modern furniture.
  4. The quantity of local produce in Bergen (Norway) was amazing. Instead of seeing the same chain supermarkets with food imported from all the corners of the planet, the Norwegians pride themselves with national stores that promote local products. Indeed, the variety to choose from is very reduced as compared to the UK, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not for the Norwegian economy anyway.
  5. And finally, Norway hasn’t wrapped everything in plastic unlike its insular neighbor across the North Sea. You can still get lots of vegetables and fruits in bulk. They even hang on a hook unwrapped smoked reindeer meat in supermarkets, which is more of an Eastern European practice (not reindeer meat though!).
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