G is for Gezellig

In Dutch there’s a word that I can’t find any good translation for.  G is for gezellig.  Most dictionaries translate it as “cozy”, as in, “we sat in a cozy pub until the wee hours”.  But cozy doesn’t begin to cover it.  You could never call this photo “cozy” but it is certainly gezellig:

The photo was taken at LowLands, in the rain.  These guys were laughing and having a great time together and really enjoying the event.  That’s certainly gezellig.

Gezellig is a feeling, a state of mind, a state of the atmosphere and something in the air.  It’s the indefinable thing that makes one party a great time that people remember for years, and another party one where people go home early.  It’s feeling like you belong where you are and everyone else belongs there too.

Some people find Dutch birthday parties gezellig:

Some people can’t stand Dutch birthday parties (and believe me, there are a lot of birthday parties you are required to go to here).  Some are gezellig and some are not.  Tante Mies obviously thought this was a good one!

Gezelligheid can be found in big crowds at special events (Rugby world cup):

Or with a small group of friends just hanging out:

I don’t know of any other country where gezelligheid is so important and is part of everyday language.  If someone says “Let’s all meet for a coffee later.” the usual reply is “Gezellig!” in anticipation of a good time.   My best advice to find gezelligheid is to come to the Netherlands.  Why else do you think I live here? 🙂

8 thoughts on “G is for Gezellig

  1. Emily April 10, 2008 / 04:15

    What’s going on with those things that that woman’s baking? Is it some kind of quiche thing?

    And how do you pronounce Gezellig?

    Also, after seeing these pictures I for reals need to visit Amsterdam.

  2. earlybird April 10, 2008 / 07:30

    She’s making little quiches – first some salmon on the bottom, then the eggy batter over the top. I guess it was pretty hilarious. 🙂

    How to pronounce Gezellig? Hmmm, how to make growling sounds with vowels in between? G (like a growling tiger) – eh – zell – ig (like ick but with that growling sound at the end). Sorry, it’s the best I can do!

    If you come here you can hear the word in action.

  3. earlybird April 12, 2008 / 09:09

    You’re right! Another thing the Netherlands and Ireland have in common, besides the love of pubs and too much rain.

  4. Vicki April 12, 2008 / 15:19

    I want it!! Thanks — that’s a great “G.”

  5. astrid April 12, 2008 / 19:18

    I think your stories are very gezellig. Your observations are very accurate and always makes me laugh (at us dutch people). And laughing is always gezellig.

  6. Debbie April 14, 2008 / 01:47

    Most excellent G you have there.

  7. Jennifer September 29, 2009 / 19:33

    A former boss of mine (originally from The Netherlands), introduced me to Gezellig a number of years ago, and I found it myself with many visits to Amsterdam. Now I play in a band that produces music to help create gezelligheid. Indeed, G is for Gezellig!

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