Hygge and lagom have had their moments in the spotlight—now it’s time to hop on the Dutch tradition of gezellig.
The Danish have hygge, the embracing of a cozy lifestyle; the Swedish have lagom, or creating a life that’s happily balanced; and the Dutch have gezellig, meaning cozy—but also describing a situation that is social, fun, and relaxed, or one in which you’re catching up and connecting with old friends, loved ones, or anyone else whose presence and attention you value. Hygge has trended for a few years now and shows no signs of slowing down, but maybe gezellig (pronounced similarly to ghe-zell-ik, with soft Gs) is about to have its moment of fame in the non-Dutch–speaking world.
Gezellig is a Dutch adjective meaning a number of things, including cozy and snug. Its definition goes beyond that, though, encompassing more social concepts such as sociable, convivial, companionable, and more. Like hygge, gezellig—or its noun form, gezelligheid, meaning coziness, conviviality, or sociability—is difficult to translate into one just-right English equivalent, though hygge and gezellig are very close in meaning.
Justin Mast, the founder of plant delivery company Bloomscape, comes from a long line of horticulturalists from the Netherlands, and he first introduced us to gezellig. Mast describes gezellig as a Dutch tradition of friendliness, coziness, and light-heartedness and connects it to the generous conventions of purchasing a spontaneous thinking-of-you gift or giving a thoughtful housewarming present.
Gezellig is considered a major part of Dutch culture and tradition, and while thoughts of hygge may be accompanied by visions of crackling fireplaces, warm mugs, and fuzzy socks, thoughts of gezellig may take place in any season, as long as human connections are being built and nurtured and everyone is having fun. And who doesn’t want more of that?
Try creating some gezellig moments of your own by planning (weather-permitting) a picnic with close friends or hosting a laid-back brunch. Who knows—you may find yourself a gezellig convert.