Anti consumerism and the concept of Hygge

Christmas is approaching and high streets are filling up with incontrollable consumers who are looking into buying last-minute presents. Consumerism is at it’s highest during this period of time, shops/brands take advantage of this situation. On the net, many Christmas-related UK articles (i.e. Telegraph, BBC) have been rooming over one particular concept: it’s the Scandinavian (or more specifically Danish) concept of Hygge.

The term could be translated as the act of feeling or being ‘cozy’. This manifests itself usually with having home-made meals, with candles, at home, with your friends of family, thus allowing a more intimate experience. Another example would simply be to lay on the sofa, with warm woollen socks, and a nice cup of coffee.

As you might have already noticed, hygge is more of concept that portrays indoor experiences rather than outdoor experiences. It would never be considered hyggelig to go to a restaurant with your friends – as you have not prepared the meal and are paying for an external service. This last point shows that hygge is not about buying, but about making. It’s about being able to appreciate life without having to buy experience – if you know what I mean.

In fact, a Scandinavian anthropologist (Linnet, 2011) describes this subtlety:

 Analytically, hygge indexes a category of practices that, in various ways, entail the creation of temporary ‘shelters’ against social stratification, competition, and the market.

“Against the market”. Does that mean that through adopting the hygge concept, the UK is ultimately seeking to escape consumerism and dwell into traditionalism?

Ultimately, the way I see things is that anti-consumerism empowerment could be achieved through hygge, and that’s what the Brits are looking for. They want something real, something that they made themselves contrary; to a mass-produced products/experiences.

My only concern now is that if hygge is a culturally engrained Scandinavian concept, could the Brits really be able adopt it and assimilate it in their culture?

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