Back hygge for happiness: Danes seek UNESCO recognition

FILE PHOTO: Danish flags are pictured outside a cafe at the famous landmark Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark will ask the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO to recognize officially the concept of ‘hygge’ - a reason, Danes argue, why their country is among the happiest in the world.

The Danish word hygge, which encompasses a mood and atmosphere of cosiness and comfort, has spread internationally in recent years. Many people credit it for Denmark’s top rankings in global surveys of wellbeing.

The Visit Denmark tourist campaign said on Wednesday that the country would make the application to UNESCO. If it is successful, UNESCO will recognize hygge as intangible cultural heritage alongside practices and traditions such as Belgium’s beer culture and the ancient Indian practice of yoga.

“With increasing societal pressures and the growing importance of wellbeing, hygge’s emphasis on togetherness and equality can have real and tangible benefits,” Meik Wiking, founder and CEO of The Happiness Research Institute, and a backer of the bid, said.

UNESCO lists not only monuments and works of art but also social practices, traditions and rituals.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and David Stamp