Pronunciation: heh-SELL-ick (make gurgling sound with the initial syllable)
Definition: cozy, warm, enjoyable, inviting, sociable, savoring the moment... there really is no exact translation.
Gezellig was one of the first words I learned after arriving here. I've ended up using it countless times to describe moments such as: a group of friends sitting around a table laughing, clearly enjoying each others company or a man lounging on a pillow inside a row boat, while reading a book on a warm summer's day. The Dutch have mastered the gezellig way of life through their kindness, friendliness and welcoming attitude.
And gezellig is the only word I can use to describe how the Dutch celebrate their birthdays. This past week I've been to two. As you walk into the house you not only greet the birthday person with a congratulations, but you also congratulate their family members, and even their friends. You then proceed to greet each person in the room with either a kiss on the cheek (if you know them) or a hand shake. (The Dutch actually kiss three times in greeting). The birthday person will have set out hors d'oeuvres and cake, which is actually what Americans know of as a torte. The evening is spent sitting in a circle, nibbling on the appetizers, eating cake, drinking juice/tea and enjoying one another's company while getting to know new people.
Gezellig: forget your cares, decrease blood pressure, make the most of the moment, and enjoy the company that surrounds you.