You’ve probably seen or heard the Danish word hygge: it made the Oxford Dictionary’s shortlist for “word of the year” in 2016, and its popularity hasn’t waned since. Pictures with #hygge are still popping up on Instagram, and you can choose from a plethora of best-selling books to learn “how to hygge.” Loosely translated as “the art of cosiness,” hygge is better described as a feeling than a concept: it’s reading a book in bed on a sunlit Saturday morning, lounging in pyjamas and cozy socks in front of a fire, drinking a warm cup of coffee while watching the sunrise, relaxing on a warm summer’s night surrounded by friends and encircled by perfectly strung patio lanterns. What the world doesn’t know is that Catholics have been embracing hygge long before it started trending on social media.
Edith Stein (otherwise known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) described women’s souls as being “fashioned to be a shelter in which other souls may unfold.”
St. Padre Pio prayed that his soul would be a consolation to Christ, “a nest of love.”
Catholic author Frank Sheed similarly describes the heart of Mary “like that of the bird’s nest, built in a round warm ring to receive the little bird, rounded to the shape of humanity.”
What could be more hygge than our Catholic faith, especially our consoling Mother? Hygge is the pregnant woman, open to embracing life, and enfolding it within the shelter of her womb. It’s the cosiness of the confessional, and the warm rush of absolution. It’s kneeling in a hushed church before the flickering flame of the Blessed Sacrament, welcoming Christ into the little nest of our hearts. It’s the calming and quieting feeling of the rosary beads as they pass through our fingers. It’s entrusting our worries, our concerns, our family, our future, into the loving arms of Mary, who swaddles us in the comfort of God’s perfect will. That’s hygge.