Hygge - The Nordic Way of Happiness Through Winter

Two mugs surrounded by a blanket by a fire

So the days are short and the night is cold.  How will you make it through?  Try the Danish tradition of Hygge!

Hygge, loosely translated as "cozy" and pronounced "hooga", is centered around the idea of including cozy things in day-to-day routines to create warmth, community, and intimacy. 

The word might originate from the word hug. Hug comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means "to embrace". The word hugge is of unknown origin but is normally associated with the Old Norse term, hygga, which means "to comfort", and comes from the word hugr, meaning "mood". Other versions of the word imply reflection, mindfulness, soulfulness and spirituality.  


How to Hygge (a few tips to get you going!)

1. Candles and Fireplaces - A flickering fire can instantly make any space feel intimate. If you don't have a fireplace in your home, create that warm and cozy vibe by arranging candles of different sizes and shapes into a cluster

2. Bring Nature In - Add some greenery to your home. Don't have a green thumb? Use natural materials like leather, stone, and wood to your space.

3. Dim the Lights - Overhead lights are often too bright to create a homey feeling, so turn off that light and rely on table lamps.

4. Simplify - Cozy spaces might be small, but that doesn't mean they're cluttered.  Before you add your hygge touches (candles, a throw, books), be sure to eliminate extra items that don't bring peace.

5. Find Something Soft - Texture is a big part of hygge. Surround yourself with items like knitted fleece throw blankets, fluffy pillows, shag rugs, and comfy furniture.

6. Remind Yourself of Stories - Hygge pushes back against consumerism. Instead of buying mass-produced items, decorate your home with furniture and accents that tell your story.

7. Have a Hot Drink - Make up a tea kettle. Not a tea person? Cocoa or coffee will also do the trick.

8. Use the Good China - Spending quality time with family or friends, especially while sharing a great meal, is essential to the hygge philosophy.  Danes love a great wooden table and hand-crafted chairs, but the important part is spending mealtimes together.

9. Your Home is Your Spa - Give yourself permission to take a soothing bath.  Perhaps you could light a few candles and use essential oils and bath products with relaxing scents into your routine. Big, fluffy towels and a quality bathmat do wonders.


In Other Cultures

  • The Dutch word gezelligheid is a similar concept to hygge, implying comfort and cosiness, but more for a sociall context.
  • In German word Gemütlichkeit implies a state of warmth, friendliness and belonging.
  • The Norwegian adjective koselig is used to describe feelings of warmth, intimacy and togetherness.

  • The Swedish adjective mysig describes a pleasant and warm atmosphere of togetherness.

  • The Japanese adjective and verb mattari has a similar meaning to have a comfortable, calm and pleasant time with others, but also describes a similar state while alone.