In the dead of winter, I'll admit... I'm OVER this weather. I'm starting to groan at the very hint of impending snow, hate the dark mornings an early sunsets and lose all intentions of mastering my list of goals for the new year. You with me? However, it's also around this time when I realize the beauty that the winter season brings me each and every year. I mean, seriously, how often would I kill for a warm, toasty fire place roaring instead of sweating my face off in the summer? And isn't it kind of wonderful how everyone sort of hibernates during this time of year? Winter may be a drag sometimes, but it's also full of little joys.
Now that being said, I know what you're thinking... what in the world is this word "HYGGE"?! (You've probably seen it splattered all over the Internet.) Hygge stems from the Scandinavian country of Denmark, and let me tell you... adopting it into your day to day life is a guaranteed way to instill a serious sense of coziness and connectedness to your life. What better time to gain a better understanding about this Scandinavian lifestyle traditions than right in the dead of winter? So, let's live worldly and find out a few ways to adopt these traditions in our day to day lives!
WHAT EXACTLY IS HYGGE?
First things first, hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah") is a tricky thing to define. Because hygge is a feeling, it can be hard to nail down the right words to accurately define it. But for all intents and purposes, it's the Danish tradition/lifestyle approach that celebrates “coziness of the soul,” togetherness, comfort and all things cozy. Simply put, hygge is “the art of celebrating coziness and togetherness.”
So why infuse some hygge into your life? Considering that Denmark has been consistently ranked as one of the happiest nations in the world, even with horrific weather and some of the highest tax rates in the world… there’s obviously something that can be learned! As we know, self-care is incredibly important. Hygge is one avenue for personal happiness and fulfillment. Who doesn’t crave a little ritualized act of self-care? Plus, if you’re someone like me, it’s fun to learn more about a different culture’s traditions and infuse some of their ideas into our own daily lives.
WHAT HYGGE FEELS LIKE
Hygge is definitely something that pairs well with autumn and winter… because lord knows there’s nothing better than feeling cozy and relaxed in colder weather! Hygge is definitely a personal thing. After all, we all source happiness and contentment in different ways. For some, there is nothing more hygge than a brisk hike, enjoying the changing leaves and the beauty of nature. For others, that is the exact opposite of comfort! So, remember friends... hygge is up to you to define!
For me, hygge is that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re reading a book on a rainy day. It’s holding a warm coffee cup in your hands and savoring a cinnamon bun in the morning. It’s that cozy, nostalgic feeling you get when you set up the Christmas tree.
My mild (read - major) obsession with hygge stems from the reading I've about the Danish tradition through various books, blog articles and more. My go-to favorites, FYI, are "The Little Book of Hygge," "How To Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life," and "The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection." If you're not looking to buy a book, although I seriously suggest you do - there's nothing cozier than learning about coziness (super meta!) - just do a quick search on Pinterest and you'll be bombarded with other blog posts regarding hygge's history.
To really create a warm and cozy environment, be sure turn down the lights and light a candle. In fact, most Danish people agree... a key ingredient of hygge is a candlelit room. The Danish use more candle wax than any other country in the world. If you can, light a fire in the fireplace and curl up with a cozy blanket.
Whatever you're doing, whether it's watching a movie, reading a special magazine or baking a treat for yourself... do it completely. Be here, right now, in the moment. That may mean putting your phone out of sight, in the upstairs rooms where you won't be bothered to scroll on social media in between whatever you're doing today. Turning OFF your phone might be the most hygge decision of your day!
Read - SWEETS. Have something sinfully delicious. Coffee with chocolates, cookies, warm cake, caramels or candies you love.
Take it in, savor everything. Breathe in all the good things that surround you. Hygge is very much about appreciation and taking the time to savor and be thankful.
My fave. There's NOTHING better than getting cozy... so relax. Take a break. Pop on your most comfortable sweatpants and worn in sweater, lie down on the couch with your warmest blanket and warming socks. (There's actually a term in Danish that translates to hygge pants... aka, the pants you never want to be caught in public wearing, but you can't imagine throwing them away because their so dang comfy!) Cuddle cup, get your cozy on.
Start traditions, or continue to practice them. Have nostalgic conversations with old friends, build relationships with new ones. Host an event where everyone can contribute in something together.
Remember that your home is your place for peace, quiet, security and sanity.
7 OF MY GO-TO HYGGE TIPS & TRICKS
I titled this blog post Hygge, Pennsylvania because I want you all to know that although hygge is Danish in origin... it's something that can be practiced in any place around the world! I've found the most hygge moments come with a little bit of intention and mindfulness. So if you're reading this post and wondering how to start incorporating some serious coziness in your life... this is for you!
EAT SOMETHING A LITTLE SINFUL WHILE READING
The BEST! Get cozy and open up a book, whether it's an old favorite that brings you all the joy and nostalgia, or a new one that fills you up with excitement and curiosity, and place some of your favorite sweets beside you. Enjoy the simplicity of getting lost in a great story while also indulging in some simple, delicious treats. Bonus points if you turn your phone off for the whole experience!
PURPOSEFULLY GO TO A COFFEE SHOP TO SAVOR ALONE TIME
Take the time out of your day to go to a coffee shop with all the cozy vibes (Danish people religiously look for places that feel hygge to hang out in, why shouldn't you?). Order a hot drink, feel its warmth in your hands, sip in between watching the weather, journaling or writing a letter to a friend you haven't seen in a while. The purpose of your trip shouldn't be something on your to-do list. It should be something special you are doing just for you to enjoy!
FYI - Lancaster-ites, my favorite hygge coffee shop is sort of a hidden gem, it's Commonwealth Kitchen and Cafe on Mulberry Street! The light and view to the park behind, combined with their pastries and endless coffee is my favorite for some serious hygge-vibes.
WATCH A THUNDERSTORM (OR SNOWSTORM) FROM INSIDE
Ahhh... is there anything better than watching a storm roll in from the comfort of your cozy home? My parents and I would watch summer thunderstorms while curled up on your front porch swing, enjoying the warm, humid air blown through, counting the seconds between the lightning and thunder, and now I do just the same. Right now, in the dead of winter, I love opening my blinds while snow falls. Watching the outer turmoil of the weather while safe and warm indoors is one of the coziest feelings in the world!
POP ON THE COZIEST SWEATER
You know that sweater that has all the nubby fabric and is worn in just right? Yeah... wear that one and have no apologies!
HOST A QUIANT POTLUCK STYLE GET-TOGETHER
Having close friends over in your home to do something fun and possibly start a tradition together is a great way to incorporate some hygge in a more extroverted way! By asking everyone to contribute to the overall get-together is a great way to bring everyone together and open up dialogue in new ways. That's why I love a good potluck. There's no pressure on the host to do it all, everyone brings something a little special for everyone to nosh on, everybody gets some variety and helps with the clean up. It's a win-win. Hygge potluck party must haves? Candles (duh), lots of candles. And that's pretty much it!
Lancaster peeps, anybody want to do a low key hygge-party soon?
SNUGGLE YOUR DANG HEART OUT WHILE WATCHING A FEEL-GOOD MOVIE
It's simple. It's a classic. Put on a movie that makes your inner child happy, or your standard favorite to watch with your significant other... and snuggle the day away. For me, it's Harry Potter marathon or Breakfast At Tiffany's. For Luke, it's I Love You Man. For you, it might be something completely different. Pick a movie that has a tinge of nostalgia to it, get snuggled up in a warm blanket and just enjoy the simple beauty of a wonderful story unfolding in front of your eyes while comfortable and safe at home.
LIGHT A DANG CANDLE
The Danish burn the most candles out of any country in the WORLD. Think about that. Candles are pretty much the staple piece to any hygge-seeking individual. So whether you're cleaning your dishes or reading a magazine, turn off your fluorescent lighting (THE WORST!) put on a candle and enjoy the simple ambiance it brings. Whenever I light a candle at home, it turns any room into a mini-retreat. I love it!
Hygge, although Danish in tradition, is yours to embrace. So savor the little things, indulge in something special, light a candle, drink slowly, and enjoy the coziness that embraces every aspect of your daily life. Hygge requires no money, but it does require some intentional thought, mindfulness and a sense of appreciation. Tap into this tradition, practice it in your life in a way that suites you and makes you happy... and you'll find yourself exclaiming "wow, that is soooo hygge" the way I have been doing for months now. Enjoy!