What the hell is gezellig??
In Search of Gezelligheid: gezellig, or gezelligheid (the state of being gezellig)
I consider myself to have a pretty firm grasp of both the Dutch and English languages. But, I do have some problems. Translating from one language to the other, in my head or on paper, is a rather difficult task!
Generally, I find the English language to be less expressive than the Dutch language. A prime example is the Dutch word gezellig, one of my favorite Dutch words, I just love it...it amazing to see how just one word can tell you so much! And it's such a nice one too!
Most people who know Dutch, or have been to the Netherlands know what it means. But how do you tell someone who doesn't speak Dutch, or have a knowledge of the Dutch culture what gezellig means? There's no one word translation.
I've tried. "It's a little like cozy, warm, with a fireplace," I usually end up saying. What I mean is something with far more meaning. Ah... It's a simple idea, yet one that underlines everyday life; one of those imprecise, enigmatic, and finally untranslatable-in-a-single-word concepts for a mood and an attitude that you'll recognize right away when you find it, and then you'll say with quiet satisfaction, "Ah, this place looks gezellig."
So what is it then?
The special something that makes a place comfortable, congenial, cozy, familiar, friendly, intimate, memorable, tolerant, warm, and welcoming. Dutch, in fact. You find it in abundance in brown cafes; in a candle-lit restaurant where the atmosphere is enforced and there's a view of a softly illuminated canal; in a Dutch home where you are made to feel one of the family; even on a packed-to-the-gills tram where everyone is in good humor and sees the funny side of the situation.The great thing about gezelligheid is that it's free. Box some up and take it home with you.
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