Pastries, warm bevies, Danish vocab: Downtown Evanston kicks off inaugural Hygge Fest


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Sweaters and hot beverages are an important part of hygge. Downtown Evanston kicked off the first Hygge Fest this weekend.

Ashley Capoot, Reporter

In the back room of Bookends & Beginnings on Saturday, Evanston residents kicked off Downtown Evanston’s first-ever Hygge Fest, cozying up with warm beverages and practicing the pronunciation of the tricky Danish word.

There is no direct English translation for hygge, but it encompasses the feeling of comfort that comes from moments like reading a book on a cold winter night or having a candlelit dinner with close family and friends, said Anne Petersen, who facilitated the event. Downtown Evanston’s Hygge Fest, which includes a knitting event and a wine and game night, will continue through Feb. 22.

Petersen said they lived in Denmark for a year to learn Danish and have a long lineage of family members from Denmark. They explained that hygge is pronounced “hue-gah,” and that it is regularly used as a noun, verb and adjective.

“It’s part of what makes it such a versatile word because it can be used in combination with so many other things,” Petersen said. “People will have hyggebukser, which are hygge pants, so they’re pants that aren’t super public-acceptable, but they’re super comfy.”

The Spice & Tea Exchange of Evanston provided warm drinks and pastries to emulate the tangible components that are often associated with hygge, and the attendees asked Petersen questions about how to incorporate hygge into their own lives.

Evanston resident Irene Ziaya said she learned a lot at the event and will attempt to make hygge a more active part of her day-to-day life.

“The whole concept of being welcoming and cozy and all that … that’s something that I’m consciously trying to build more in my life,” Ziaya said. “It gives me some really good ideas to approach it a little differently.”

Nina Barrett (Medill ‘87), the owner of Bookends & Beginnings, said she became a believer in hygge when she visited Copenhagen, Denmark. She said she has hosted hygge-related events in February for the past two years and was thrilled to kick off the 2019 Hygge Fest in her store.

Barrett said this is the first year that Downtown Evanston has hosted a Hygge Fest, and an unprecedented number of people expressed interest in hygge this year.

“I am awestruck by the number of people who showed up for this,” Barrett said. “The store is not always that packed, that was just a really fantastic number of people. I’m really glad that that so many people got excited about it, and it felt like it was a real community event.”

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Twitter: @ashleycapoot