Poul Houe


Danish life, happy place, cozy culture


every year since becoming a Danish expat some forty-five years ago, I’ve spent part of each summer in Denmark. 2017 was no exception, but unlike previous years, this time I reflected explicitly on something most Danes probably take for granted or don’t pay much attention to: their country’s global reputation as the hyggeligste and lykkeligste place on earth (although Denmark came second to Norway in the global happiness rankings in 2017).1 Denmark’s reputation as the happiest (lykkeligste) place on earth is increasingly matched by the claim that it harbors the coziest (hyggeligste) culture imaginable. Many observers and commentators have credited the Danes for their uniquely appealing way of life while trying to unlock “the secret of Danish happiness” and extract “a heartwarming lesson from Denmark” for the rest of the world. I’m sure many Danes acknowledge these attributes, but I’m not so sure they matter all that much in people’s everyday lives.