Forget Hygge — This Is the Scandinavian Word You Should Live By

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: @hyggelady)

The Danish term describing the concept of coziness — “hygge” — embodies a feeling of warmth, and it was the it phrase for the end of 2016. But before you get too comfortable with the word, know that hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) has been replaced and its successor is yet another Scandinavian buzzword.

The BBC predicts 2017 will be the year of the “lagom.” The Swedish word (pronounced ‘la’ like ‘bar’, ‘gom’ like ‘prom’) translates to “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right” and encompasses the broader idea of “not too much, not too little” — more commonly recognized as balance and moderation.

Kathleen Bryson, a PhD candidate in evolutionary anthropology at UK’s University College London, told the BBC that lagom is about achieving a “Goldilocks ‘just right'” and ELLE describes the word as “being frugal, fair, and creating balance.”

Lagom: Just the right amount

“A Swedish friend explains the concept with one clever, everyday example: milk,” writes Madeleine Luckel for Vogue. “In Sweden, 1.5 percent fat mellanmjölk is beloved — it’s not a super-lean skim, but also not a fatty whole.”

In 2016, hygge became quickly commercialized with hygge candles, books, and socks. A similar pattern can be seen with lagom, which has seen a spike in Google searches and an increase in tweets containing the word. There’s already a skincare line, knitwear, and furniture based on the lagom way of living.

So, where does lagom fit into the world of hygge? Each has its own place and the two words are not conflicting. “I think hygge captures a moment in time, whether that be a short break in the day or something you try and work into your life every day,” Elliot Stocks, co-editor and creative director of Bristol-based magazine Lagom, told the BBC.

“Lagom is an overarching concept behind your life in general. Rather than fitting a bit of lagom into your day, it’s more about your approach to your life as a whole.”

Bring More Lagom to Your Kitchen in 2017