How to Hygge—the Danish Buzzword That’s Taken the Internet by Storm

Winter is always off to a great start—a time with Christmas decorations, carols, and cookies. But when the holidays come to an end and the winter wonderland starts to thaw, it’s hard to find joy in the naked trees and half empty streets.

Quite frankly, you’re tired of walking around like a human popsicle, bundled up in chunky sweaters and trying not to slip on the icy sidewalks. Let’s face it, the winter gloom has arrived. All that seems left to do is to fight your way through the coldest season of the year with warming memories of summer holidays and endless beaches. But instead of submitting to the annual winter-blues, look North to the Scandinavian countries for the perfect remedy, a way to embrace the cold: Hygge.

It’s hygge high-season, so make yourself a hot beverage and curl up under the blankets, it’s time to unveil the secrets to the Danes’ winter-coping-mechanism.

Chai hot chocolate

Chai hot chocolate

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The Scandinavians are notoriously known for their ungrateful weather conditions, their funeral-themed dark wardrobes, and minimalistic interior design—sound dim? Here’s where hygge comes into the picture as a crucial aspect of Scandinavian living—a proclaimed central factor of the countries’ continuously high ranking amongst the happiest in the world.

Potato soup with horseradish

Potato soup with horseradish

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What is hygge?

Hygge gained international attention as the runner up for Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year in 2016, and many have since tried to grasp its full meaning, and its peculiar pronunciation (hu-goh).The word has often been equated with the English cozy or German gemütlich, as it’s associated with being comfortable and relaxed. However, hygge is not merely an adjective, it’s a verb, a way of living which extends into every aspect of life.

Pasta casserole

Pasta casserole

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Hygge is a rebel against the modern fast-paced lifestyle, a trace back to primal instincts to slow down and hibernate during the rough winter months. It’s about being present in a moment, and embracing one’s state of comfort and well-being.

Roasted chicken

Roasted chicken

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How to practice hygge?

Hygge is the ability to commit to doing absolutely nothing while enjoying the company of yourself or others, such as gathering around the dinner table for a family fest, or simply staying in bed with jogging-pants and a bucket of ice cream.

It’s to savor the smaller things in life, as plain as the gentle glow of a candle or the warming softness of woolen socks. It’s stimulating your senses through food, the sweet smell of cinnamon, or the comfort of hearty stews. To sum it up: Hygge is a state of mind, an art in creating intimacy when needed in any given situation.

Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls

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Chances are, that you’ve probably already practiced hygge without putting a label on it, but hopefully you have now grasped its meaning and are able to put it into deliberate practice: To become aware of those small fragments of happiness that are created when we allow ourselves to slow down, to be present, and embrace our surroundings.

Hygge is your safe haven on those colder and darker days, a way to turn the winter blues into winter bliss.