As pumpkin spice is to fall, hygge is to winter. The word, pronounced something like “hoo-gah,” is the Danish solution to winter well-being. Hygge is coziness in the most expansive sense, a kind of coziness of body and mind. It is the warmth of thick socks, blankets, fires, hot beverages, and loved ones. It is an atmosphere of candles, shared food, and easy conversation.
In the past few years, to the bemusement of many Danish, hygge has become an international sensation. Type “hygge book” into a search box, and it will turn up a dozen titles like “How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living” and “25 Hygge Ideas: A Practical Guide to the Art of Danish Hygge,” virtually all of which were published in 2016 or later. There are even hygge-themed recipe books and adult coloring books.
If you look at the core of hygge, it isn’t about the material details; it’s about the feeling. All of the trappings surrounding hygge are about the sense of happiness that comes from simplifying, slowing down, and taking time to relax and connect. Winter, with its cold weather and built-in holidays, gives us the perfect opportunity to do it.
Just because the Danish hygge with well-designed clothes and furniture, Gløgg, and gathering to watch the crime drama Broen, it doesn’t mean you have to. Get your oldest, comfiest sweatpants, drink a chai latte or eggnog, and most importantly, take some time to relax, breathe, and talk to people in person instead of over text or social media. And remember: you don’t need a book to tell you how to hygge.