Nordic Love and Untranslatable Words

One of my favourite Oscar Wilde quotes ever is “The consciousness of loving and being loved brings warmth and richness to a life that nothing else can bring”. I think what he said was spot on. It falls in line with Hygge as well, which as I’ve said before is a Danish concept that I wholly agree with.

Hygge is trendy right now. I get it. These trends come and go, but for me, Hygge is much more. This is something we should be practising every day, something that should already be included in our core values. Surely, practising Hygge should be part of what makes a person decent and well rounded.

I don’t need books to tell me how I should be enjoying life’s simple pleasures – these, as a good friend recently suggested, are just smart marketing money spinners. Admittedly, however, I’ve been making more of a conscious effort with flowers, because pretty colourful flowers can brighten even the dullest of days for me… and just for the record I’m certainly not as materialistic as many might think – I’d much prefer to wear wild flowers in my hair any day as opposed to wearing ostentatious diamonds around my neck.

I’m all for lazy mornings, sunsets with the one I love, big baggy sweaters, a cup of hot freshly brewed coffee and messy hair…to me, this is a blissful start to any day – it’s also very Hygge.

Even with my attempt to translate Hygge the other day, I still don’t think it’s exactly what the Danish consider it to be – it’s one of those words, like the word love, that’s untranslatable. Define love and compare it to someone else’s definition of love, and you’ll soon discover everyone has their own version and perception…I love that there’s no direct translation of Hygge…it’s left open for interpretation…

Hygge’s not the only Nordic word that doesn’t have a direct translation…you may have also recently heard of a so-called ‘new lifestyle trend’, lagom, which hails from Sweden…

Lifestyle mags have been quick to label it as the new Hygge, which by the way is totally wrong. Hygge is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle, a feeling, and in fact, if you tried to take some time out, away from the media hype, you’ll soon discover that Hygge is irreplaceable, and lagom and it have happily co-existed for a long time.

Here are some other untranslatable Nordic words that I love.



Despite lifestyle publications trying to find the next huge lifestyle trend after Hygge, the Swedish word Lagom loosely translates as ‘just right’ or ‘enough’. With a focus on balance and moderation, the closest English expression would be “everything in moderation” or “less is more”.

Many people have coined it to be the new Hygge. Many also believe Hygge is something completely quite the contrary to what it exactly is. ‘Indulging’ and ‘pampering’ are two words that are often erroneously associated with Hygge when in fact it’s about making the most out of the simple things in life and not just indulging in spa after spa, therefore Lagom isn’t an auxiliary of Hygge, instead it’s complementary.

When combined Hygge and lagom work in partnership, promoting better wellbeing and mindful living.

I’m conscious of everything I do, how it affects me and my well-being, and possibly even more importantly, how it affects others. To me, these two concepts manifest when we become more aware of the simple things and our values.



Personally, I love winter. I love wrapping up warm in my winter woollies, curling up next to someone on the couch, reading, drinking red wine, chatting while the fire crackles… (there goes the romantic in me again…even better if we’re in a ski chalet in the Austrian or French Alps).

I love winter, because I know it’s not a constant – I can’t ever imagine living in a country that doesn’t have four distinct seasons, which is why New Zealand will always trump when it comes to ideal places to live in the world.

Unfortunately, our Icelandic friends can’t say the same about their weather. At times it can get crazy cold, snowstorms come without warning, and darkness prevails most of the year. Clear sunny days are a rarity, which is how the word Sólarfrí came about.

Sólarfrí means time given off from work and school commitments to enjoy the sun’s beauty – it’s amazing the things we all take for granted. So next time I complain about the incessant British rain, I’ll make a conscious effort to remember those living in places like Iceland.

Sólarfrí goes to prove that we shouldn’t take anything for granted, including those tiny things that seem so obvious.

Kura Skymning


This is my personal favourite untranslatable Nordic word – the Swedes get it right in so many ways.

Sitting quietly and pondering at dusk…how beautiful, how romantic!

This is something I can relate to. It’s like finding a unique person, who makes your world stop and appear (even if it’s just on the outside) so incredibly perfect. This is the kind of person no one ever wants to lose…this is what I realised one night while kura skymning.

My dreams are so vivid; sometimes I can’t actually tell if I’m awake or asleep, but there’s one thing I’m sure of, and that’s the beauty of dusk. There’s something about that intense tangerine coloured sky that eventually fades into a soft lilac then transforms once again into a rich petrol blue until the sky’s canvas is painted completely black.

I love the romance and peaceful drama of a sunset, especially after a hectic day (which I seem to be having a lot of lately). Kura skymning is just another cool Nordic word that simply reminds us to slow down a little, catch our breaths, and take the opportunity to admire such wondrous sights; even if it is transient.

Slowing down is especially relevant to me. I’m extremely ambitious, and I won’t stop until I get what I want, but it also reminds me not to take life too seriously – sometimes just stepping outside and simply looking upwards towards the sky is enough to remember how amazing life is.


Free happy woman enjoying nature sunset. Freedom, happiness and

One of my favourite French expressions is joie de vivre, which translates as an ‘exuberant enjoyment of life’.

Have you ever just woken up in the morning with a smile on your face knowing that everything is just right, even if it is just for a fleeting moment? This is exactly the feeling of how I would describe joie de vivre…

While English doesn’t have a single word or expression to describe this feeling of contentment, the Swedes do. Gökotta is the Swedish equivalent…

An indescribable and personal feeling…I’ll continue to make every effort to feel Gökotta first thing in the morning, because surely, if I start my day like that, it can only continue to get better – it’s about starting the day with delight and gratitude.



Another favourite feeling…that dizzying sensation of just beginning to fall in love is powerful and in English, it’s also unspeakable in just one word…even when I try to string words and sentences together, I still fail to describe it.

Caught in the middle of the feelings of like and love, that almighty moment when transitions begin to take place, it’s a beautiful feeling, which sometimes I’d love to just bottle up and keep in a perpetual state.

This word should perhaps be my reminder that I shouldn’t search for love, because if it’s right, it will find me, hence the reason why it’s called falling in love, it’s nothing forced, it just happens – like magic, so beautiful, so unexpected!



Tøffelhelt is a funny word (don’t ask me how to pronounce it). It’s a word I can’t really relate to, however, I could easily name a few Tøffelhelt people.

Perhaps best described as the opposite of daredevil, a Tøffelhelt doesn’t like to live life on the edge – they continuously play it safe, refusing to take risks…every day is the same, and perhaps the most daring they’d get is staying out late one evening when they had work the next day – imagine!

The word itself goes against the new me and it doesn’t align with one of my new life mottos to be courageous, take more risks and allow for the unexpected. I used to always question myself about what would happen if the things I wanted didn’t work out, but now I’m the opposite – I ask myself, but what if it does all fall into place, what then?



I’d love to have just one word in English to describe drinking hot coffee, eating cake and chatting for hours on end, because if I could fika more, I would – this is one word that sums me up; it’s how I happily spend a lot of my free time.

Afternoon tea just doesn’t cut it, the feeling of fika is much more, and if you’ve had the pleasure of eating yummy cake and drinking endless cups of coffee or tea with me, you too know that beautiful warm sense of belonging and togetherness while bonding over cake and coffee is something very special.

Coffee, cake and good company are just a few things I like on top of these cool untranslatable Nordic words and Hygge – here are some other…

Things I like…

The sweet smell of cut grass;

oversized chunky sweaters;

books I can’t put down;

making others laugh;

laughing until I hurt;

feeling worthy and loved;

chatting randomly to strangers;

listening to songs that sing my words;

the smell of freshly baked bread;


Victoria sponge;

listening to heavy rain;


eating with chopsticks;

hearing the words “I like you”;

holding hands.

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