Denmark, with a population of just over 5 million people, has been named the third happiest country in the world for 2018 – a title it has earned the past six years. 

And its secret possibly lies in the country’s age-old belief in Hygge, pronounced "hoo-ga”, which emphasises cosy contentment.

South Africa, comparatively, ranked 105th on the World Happiness report – behind drought-hit Somalia, terrorist-prone Pakistan, suppressed Palestine, and communist China.

Read: South Africa dropped to the 105th happiest country in the world – even dictatorships and occupied territories are happier

Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, said the lifestyle is defining part of Denmark’s DNA. 

"In other words, what freedom is to Americans. . . hygge is to Danes," Wiking wrote in his book "The Little Book Of Hygge".

Hygge, used as both a noun and adjective in Denmark, can describe anything from a cosy afternoon in bed watching TV, or enjoying a meal next to a fireplace with friends and family. 

See also: Scandi lifestyle trend 'Päntsdrunk' involves drinking wine alone in your underwear and bingeing on Netflix — and its name is pretty fitting

It has caught international attention in recent years, with The New York Times and The New Yorker covering it extensively. 

In 2016, it became so popular in Britain that it was included in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016 – second only to Brexit.

In Denmark, sweatpants are called Hyggebukser and a hyggekrog is a nook where you can get cosy, Country Living reported.

Also read: 8 African countries happier than South Africa

The country is also known for burning a whopping 6kg of candle wax per person per year in an effort to create a hyggelig atmosphere at home.

Wiking, however, notes that many modern-day essentials such as cell phones and consumerism are considered to go against the values of Hygge.

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