Confession: I hate winter. I dread autumn because I know it means winter is just around the corner. And once the festivities of December and New Years pass, it’s only a matter of time before I sink into my deep winter blues. I grew up in Connecticut and went to college in Chicago, and yet, I’ve never been able to accept winter. But – fellow wannabe hibernators – take heart! A few years ago I stumbled across the concept of hygge, and it has helped to change my mental approach to this long and often dreary season.
Everyone loves to feel cozy and safe. The Danish and Norwegian word “hygge” encapsulates that feeling. The word is used as both a noun, verb, and adjective. And if you dabble in etymology, you’ll soon discover that hygge has roots linked to the English word “hug”.
This delightful word and its many variations can convey a host of emotions and ideas. How to describe your time with friends that was filled with hygge? It was hyggeligt. I bet I’m not the only person with a favorite pair of pants reserved solely for wearing around the house (ahem, $5 fleece lined leggings from Safeway). Those secret pants are my hyggebukser. That one special place in your house that always feels extra cozy? That’s your hyggekrog. Are you experiencing a time of calm and enjoyment – perhaps watching the sunrise in your pajamas with a hot cup of coffee? That hygge-filled moment is a hyggestund.
Ways to Get Your Hygge On
1. Light lots of candles. This has become a favorite evening ritual in our home in the colder months, especially at dinner time. It is not uncommon for us to have up to a dozen different candles lit in the evening! It helps create that warm and cozy atmosphere that is necessary for hygge. (If you have a fireplace, that’s even more hygge-tastic).
2. Invest in extra cozy socks, slippers, and sweaters. When you are spending more time inside, what you put on your body can help to impact your mood. Although I’d always prefer sundresses over sweaters, it does bring me some satisfaction to break out a well-loved fuzzy sweater or pair of super thick wool socks.
3. Relax at the end of the long week with your loved ones all cuddled up, sharing buckets of popcorn and watching a lighthearted movie together.
4. Drinks are a wonderful way to give yourself a warm hug on the inside. Make some yummy spiced cider, brew some herbal tea (I’m currently loving Trader Joe’s Winter Wake-Up Tea), or for a treat your kiddos will definitely love, make some homemade hot cocoa.
5. Host a hygge party! My friends and I had a hygge night-in last winter and it was so lovely. We sat around a fire just talking for hours in our pajamas with glasses of wine and plates of cake and sweets.
6. Put your phone away and take out a book. Now if you pair that book reading with an extra warm blanket and a cup of tea by a fire – you are truly living the hygge life!
7. Appreciate the beauty in simple, small moments. Taking your family to Cirque du Soleil might be a memorable time, but it is not hyggelit. Rather, playing a game of checkers, making paper snowflakes together, or looking through family photo albums are great opportunities for nurturing family moments of hygge.
Want to learn more? I highly recommend reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living for a Dane’s insider look at this cozy concept. Other hygge-tastic books include The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life, or check out the blog Hygge House.
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