Have you got caught up in the Hygge hype? I did a bit as well. Who doesn’t love a cosy night in with loved ones!? However, Hygge have to step a side now to make room for the new Scandinavian lifestyle trend based on the Swedish word: Lagom.
As a Swede, I’m very familiar with the word Lagom, and since moving to the UK 6 years ago have enjoyed many times of proudly explaining this word that does not exist in the English language! But of course it does exist, there’s just not one single word that does it justice. Similar to other words in Swedish that doesn’t have a one word equivalent in English such as ‘doing the dishes’ or ‘setting the table’. Anyhow, the word Lagom loosely translates to ‘just enough’, ‘the right amount’, ‘not too little or too much’.
I read this article in Elle UK about the new concept Lagom and I was left feeling a bit misrepresented. I’m sure Danish people felt the same after the high-jacking and commercialisation of the word Hygge. I just don’t think Elle explained the full meaning of the word or did it justice. Because it’s not just a word or a way of living, it’s a trait of Swedes (and other Scandinavians) that is in our genes, fed through the mothers milk, in our media, and intrinsic to our culture.
For example, Swedes generally don’t like to brag, and frown upon people who do. And in my experience we don’t like to be told they’ve failed or that they’re wrong either. It’s better to just be Lagom in your performance. Same goes for social interaction. We don’t like people who are too loud or talks too much, or talk just for the sake of talking! We communicate Lagom when there is something valuable to say. In terms of work culture, Lagom has an impact on us as well. Swedes generally get more holiday days than other countries and we value the little breaks from work called ‘fika’ where you meet in the cafeteria for a coffee and something sweet to just have a few minutes away from your desk to socialise with your colleagues.
I believe Swedes are seen as ‘healthy’ by the outside world because of Lagom. I believe Swedes are seen as ‘neutral’ in war because of Lagom. I believe Swedes are seen as great at interior decoration because of Lagom (think IKEA). From speaking to a lot of British people and other non-swedes, it’s evident to me that everything that is seen as Swedish when it comes to lifestyle is partly based on the fact that we’re Lagom. And it’s a sought after way to be! It’s not long now until the book stores will have to shift the stock of Hygge books to make room for Lagom books. I might write one myself actually!
I love listening to people’s perception of Swedes and Sweden so please comment below with your thoughts. After all it’s the perception of something that is the reality of it.