As a society, we’re often overworked and exhausted. We long for the hygge style relaxation, but it seems so difficult to achieve. The Danish and Norwegian word “hygge” lacks a concrete English translation, but it means a sense of comfort, family, and coziness all rolled into one. As a Danish resident, I can fully confirm that this word is commonly used and brings many positive connotations with it. Nevertheless, it’s not the only word that encompasses these feelings. So, now we’ve got gezellig.
Gezellig is a Dutch word that perfectly describes the heart of Dutch culture. It means everything from “cozy” to “friendly,” from “comfortable” to “relaxing,” and from “enjoyable” to “gregarious.” Just as with hygge, gezellig has no specific translation. Instead of being spoken, it’s felt.
So what exactly classifies as hygge and gezellig?
Gezellig could be a warm cup of chocolate. Waiting in a long line at the pharmacy, on the other hand, is typically not gezellig. Unless of course you’re accompanied by your friends. It’s all about the emotions any person, place, or thing invokes in you, which makes it extremely subjective. A sensation that’s pleasurable for you might not be as desirable for someone else. Hence, the meaning of gezellig can bend to fit every individual.
You can use the word gezellig to describe anything you want. It can describe place; Amsterdam is gezellig, while Rotterdam is ongezellig (un-gezellig). Furthermore, you can describe food, drinks, friends, and occasions as gezellig. It all depends on what makes you feel relaxation and comfort.
How exactly does one pronounce gezellig?
Gezellig isn’t actually hard to pronounce… as long as you forget all the rules of English pronunciation. Phonetically, you pronounce the word as “heh-SELL-ick,” with the accent on the middle syllable. Now, you can go out there and practice saying exactly what you feel!
Just like the more familiar words “cozy” and “hygge,” gezellig describes the warmth, closure, happiness, and pleasure that we all desire. So live your words – get out there and make your life gezellig!