Gemütlichkeit, Kalsarikännit And Other ‘Hygge’ Alternatives

Hygge isn’t the only foreign term you’ll need in your ‘cozy winter words’ collection. Come along on this journey through the world’s various ‘hygge’ alternatives.
cat snuggling under a blanket

What do words like gemütlichkeit, kalsarikännit and còsagach have in common? Hint: they don’t all come from the same language. Another hint: remember when hygge was all the rage? The Danish word, pronounced “HOO-guh,” essentially stands for coziness and comfort and is usually visually represented by thick socks, chunky-knit blankets, warm mugs of cocoa and intimate indoor gatherings with friends.

As it turns out, other countries in wintery Northern Europe have their own take on hygge in their own languages. One of these “cozy words” is actually a reference to the specific feeling of getting drunk in your underwear.

Intrigued yet? These words are a whole winter mood.


In Germany and Austria, gemütlichkeit refers to a feeling of comfort and coziness that you get from a welcoming environment. More than just a feeling of warmth and comfort, gemütlichkeit is about being social, affable, and relaxed — kind of like the mood at your friend’s house when a handful of people come over for drinks.


In Norway, koselig is a reference to the coziness of intangible things like warmth, conviviality, contentment, and the feeling you get from pulling the covers over your head on a bitterly cold morning.


This is one of those Welsh words everyone needs to have in their back pocket. It means exactly what it sounds like: “cuddle or hiding place.”


That’s right, the Finns have a word for “getting drunk in your underwear (with no intention of going out).” You are most welcome.


This Scottish term has Gaelic roots, but it actually doesn’t entirely align with fireside snuggles. Though VisitScotland rebranded the term to mean “snug, sheltered or cozy,” native speakers pushed back against this characterization and pointed out that còsagach is more akin to “burrowing amid wet moss” if you’re a tiny creature seeking shelter from Scotland’s raging storms.


If you’re bundled up in your chair surrounded by a couple of close friends or a particularly engaging book, you’re experiencing a mysig type of vibe. This Swedish term refers to comfort, security and contentment.


This Dutch term is Holland’s answer to “cozy,” and is appropriate for use in describing a relaxed, convivial gathering (the word comes from gezel, which means “friend” in Dutch). It can also refer to places and environments that beckon to you with a twinkle from the street (and no, we’re not just talking about certain kinds of cafes in Amsterdam).


Icelanders have gluggaveður, which literally translates to “window weather.” This refers specifically to weather that’s nice to look at, but only from afar (as in bright, beautiful winter days that will absolutely murder your cheeks if you step outside). Instead, why not curl up inside and enjoy it from the comfort of your own home?

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