What is Gezellig?
What does Gezellig mean?
Gezellig is a Dutch word you will hear — and hopefully later use — a lot.
The term encompasses the heart of Dutch culture, as the Dutch tend to love all things gezellig. You’re welcome to try and pronounce it: heh-SELL-ick.
Locals and foreigners alike will tell you that the word can not be translated. Its meaning includes everything from cozy to friendly, from comfortable to relaxing, and from enjoyable to gregarious. Gezellig is for instance when you are together with one or more people whether family, friends, colleagues or even strangers. Yes, even strangers! During the World Cup soccer you can [party in one of the many cafe's around the netherlands and have a very Gezellig time with total strangers. Gezellig is a mindset, having fun with others, often while having good food and a nice drink. You cannot be gezellig on your own.
According to Wikipedia, “A perfect example of untranslatability is seen in the Dutch language through the word gezellig, which does not have an English equivalent. Literally, it means cozy, quaint, or nice, but can also connote time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness.”
You’ll hear the word a lot when you are among the Dutch, so here are some indications as to how to understand and use it:
Gezellig vs. not gezellig
A brown café is gezellig. A dentist’s waiting room is not — though it can be gezellig if your friends accompany you, particularly if they are gezelligAn evening on the town with friends is gezellig, especially if you have dinner at a gezellig restaurant, see a good movie, and finish with a drink at a gezellig pub. Trying to entertain the inlaws-from-hell is definitely not gezellig.
Both my wife Tracey and I grew up in a culture that know how to create a Gezellig atmosphere, whether a family coffee in the morning, an ad-hoc lunch or a spontaneous dinner thrown together for friends who came by unexpected. That is Gezellig. Most European countriesknow how to be Gezellig, although the more North you go, the tougher it gets to break the initial ice, particularly during the dark and cold winters. Having said that, when you are together with family in front of an open fire enjoying each other can be very Gezellig!