My interest in hygge started last year when I was in the checkout line at Marshalls. I had one of those thick, faux fur throws in my basket and the woman behind me commented that I would love it, that she had the same one at home. I smiled in agreement and as we chatted, she asked me if I knew about the Danish practice of hygge (pronounced: HOO-gah).
What is Hygge?
I don’t remember exactly how she defined it to me at the time, but she had a serene glow as she explained. She told me about her daily ritual of putting everything down and sitting with her husband under cozy blankets with a hot cup of tea. Just to sit, just to connect, with the flicker of candlelight and a mindset of rest and rejuvenation. Sometimes they would read, sometimes they would rest, sometimes they would just sit and savor a sweet treat. She described the setting, but what I took away more was the intention, and the purposeful connection. Time set aside each day for self-care, for community, and for rest. She told me to look it up, because there was so much more to it than she could explain. Her words stuck with me, and I started to do some research.
I was so intrigued as I started to learn more about hygge, I ended up reading this book to fully understand. Hygge is not defined singularly as a noun or a verb, but rather as a mindset. There isn’t an English equivalent to the word, but the closest word would probably be “cozy”. Simply, it’s the intentional slowing down and appreciation for the simple things. Creating rejuvenating space in your day to connect with others and enjoy the comforts of life – a warm fire, a good book, a sweet cookie, and uninterrupted conversation.
The practice of hygge comes from Denmark, where the winters are long and dark. Despite the dreary climate, Danish people are regularly recognized as some of the happiest. The Danish have learned how to embrace the little things and savor the winter months in the most simple of ways. Instead of complaining about the weather, we can choose to enjoy the coziness of our homes. We stop putting off having people over because our house is messy, but put together a simple meal, light some candles and gather with ones we love.
Hygge is a red-hot trend in the US these days, but be weary of it being used as a new marketing buzz word. A hygge lifestyle isn’t about buying more things or staging our homes, it’s about surrounding ourselves with things that we love, in a minimalist way. A hygge home is cozy, comfortable and warm. A host mindful of hygge will greet guests with a warm drink or glass of wine, and light a few candles. It’s not fussy, impressive or fancy. It’s bowls of chili by the fire or savoring a cup of hot tea while you enjoy a book.
When I think of what hygge feels like, I go back to Thanksgiving day as a child. The house smelled divine with all the Thanksgiving dishes being prepared. We sipped on hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks. We hung out by the fire with games and puzzles, nowhere to be but just home for a delicious meal and company. After dinner, we would often take a walk and then relax together while we visited around the fire with family. Can you feel it? That’s hygge. Slowing down, connecting, welcoming and savoring the ordinary. (I get that not all holidays are like this, and can be stressful. I don’t feel this as much on Thanksgiving now that I’m the adult hosting!)
Hygge has a few basic elements that can easily be incorporated into your life. Luxurious, cozy textures like cable knits, wool socks and furry throws provide wonderful tactile experience. Fires and candlelight are always included, creating warmth in your home and a soft ambience. Warm drinks like coffee, tea and mulled wine should always be offered. Sit down and enjoy your drink – don’t just drink it on the go or while you complete tasks. The point is to enjoy the experience of drinking it, the smell, taste and warmth. Lastly, bring some of the outdoors in, with greenery and plants. Remember, less is more with hygge.
So, join me in bringing in more hygge into your homes this winter. I’m in the Northwest, where we have a long, rainy winter season and it’s easy to get the winter blues. I can see how being more mindful of adding hygge into my home not only changes my mindset, but my whole family. I challenge you to do the same!
How will you add more hygge to your life?