The Finnish Concept Of Päntsdrunk Is Just As Brilliant As It Sounds

by Emily Dixon
Milles Studio/Stocksy

If you've opened a magazine, scrolled through Instagram, or browsed the self-help section of a bookshop at any point in the past three years, you're probably familiar with the notions of hygge, Denmark's dedication to cosiness, and lagom, Sweden's concept of "perfect balance." But there's a third way of life trickling into the UK from the Nordic nations, known as kalsarikännit — or, in its anglicised form, päntsdrunk. So what is pantsdrunk? According to the Guardian, it means pretty much exactly what it sounds like: "drinking at home, alone, in your underwear." Consider me sold.

Hygge, according to Visit Denmark, means "creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people." According to the site, "Danish winters are known to be long and dark, and so the Danes fight the darkness with their best weapon: hygge, and the millions of candles that go with it." Elle describes lagom, meanwhile as "being frugal, fair and creating balance," in every aspect of your day-to-day life. And both hygge and lagom, at least in their exported forms, have a whiff of aspiration about them.

Browse #hygge on Instagram, for instance, to find an autumnal-hued assortment of carefully laid out knitwear, glowing candles, and steaming mugs of coffee. Do the same for #lagom, meanwhile, and you'll be presented with neat bookshelves, carefully-stacked china, and an abundance of Scandinavian interior design. But päntsdrunk, as the Guardian points out, is not exactly Instagrammable — and that's the whole point. "Päntsdrunk is real," the newspaper says. "It’s about letting go and being yourself, no affectation and no performance."

This Is Finland

According to the BBC, päntsdrunk, like hygge, emerged as a response to the local climate — particularly the freezing Finnish winters, when sunlight is scarce. Meeting your friends at the bar isn't all that inviting, unsurprisingly, if you have to wear every item of clothing you own in order to avoid dying of exposure on the way. The alternative? Stay inside, stick something mindless on the telly, and drink your own wine on your own couch (and strip down to your underwear if your central heating allows it.) If hygge is snuggling under a hand-knitted blanket beside a crackling fire, perhaps toasting the occasional marshmallow, päntsdrunk is falling asleep in your oldest pants with your hand in a bag of Quavers.

By the way, päntsdrunk isn't just a manufactured concept created to sell books; as the Guardian points out, it actually goes all the way up to the government. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs created 56 emojis to represent the country, as well as "explain some hard-to-describe Finnish emotions, Finnish words and customs." And there's two for kalsarikännit: one drinking a beer in Y-fronts, and another reclining with a glass of wine.

This Is Finland

Winter's drawing near, friends, and while temperatures in the UK might not sink quite so low as Finland's, it's still pretty tempting to stay inside from November until at least March. But there's no need to stockpile candles this year, or hastily install a log fire. Instead, you need only undertake two simple steps. Grab a bottle. Sit on the couch. Päntsdrunk.