What Is Hygge? And Why You’ll Want Some In Your Life This Winter

What is hygge?

Does your heart sink when the cold and wintery weather sets in? The sky takes on a melancholy shade of bleak grey, and by mid-afternoon it’s already getting dark. It can feel quite miserable, don’t you agree?

Imagine then, what it must be like in Denmark in the wintertime?

Except, you might be surprised to learn that the Danes are considered to be among the happiest people in the world.

Do you want to know what their secret is? It’s called hygge.

Hygge interior with candlelight

So what exactly is hygge?

It’s a small word with a big meaning that doesn’t have a direct translation into English. Pronounced ‘hue-geh’, it evokes cosiness. But it goes far deeper than that.

It is a feeling of wellbeing and togetherness. (And in fact, originally comes from the Norwegian word for well-being.)

Hygge is a way to banish the cold and dark with light, love, company, friendship, comfort and warmth; that lifts and illuminates the spirit.

It’s simplicity in our lives and an absence of anything annoying or stressful.

It’s a sensation of feel-good and serenity.

It’s all about enjoying the simple pleasures in life and taking some time to acknowledge and appreciate them. Savouring good times with the people you love: family and friends.  And surrounding yourself with a warm atmosphere.

And those are the moments you may come to treasure more than anything else.

hygge beside a fireplace

How do you hygge?

Hygge is the glow of candlelight. An evening spent beside the fire.

It’s cuddled up with a loved one on the sofa with a good film.

A bracing walk with good company, through beautiful countryside. A thick coat and woolly scarf tightly wrapped around you to protect you from the chilly air, and the sounds of crispy, golden leaves crackling underfoot. And then, to a cosy little cafe to warm up with a welcoming hot drink.

Hygge is about being in the present. All your senses alive to appreciate those little pleasures. But also about recalling heart warming memories.

It’s the rich flavour and aroma of a delicious hot cup of coffee.

That snug feeling of curling up on your favourite chair, wrapped up in a soft, cosy throw. Perhaps with a good book in your hand. And listening to the sound of the rain falling outside.

It’s an atmosphere suffused with warmth that you experience over a long meal by candlelight, with people you love spending time with. Sharing good food and talking for hours, the conversation flowing.

Copenhagen quay at night

hygge at Sult in the Danish Film Institute

My husband Samuel lived in Copenhagen for a while. And a few years ago I went back with him on a short visit. It was very early spring. The snow had gone but the nights still had a sharp chill in the air.

We walked around the quayside, the coloured buildings illuminated with lights that cast dreamy reflections on the water. Then went to the cafe of the Danish Film Institute to warm up, and get something hot to drink. We sat there surrounded by twinkling candles, cupping our hot drinks, talking and soaking in the atmosphere. It was a very hygge moment.

Hygge brightens up the dreary winter. And turns it into something to savour and enjoy.

How will you bring some hygge into your life this winter?

[Image credits: 1 – Villapaprika | 2 – Hubsch via Decordots | 3 – Laura Ashley | 4 – Park Inn Blog | 5 – Danish Film Institute ]