Winter brings shorter days and colder weather, making it the perfect season for all things cozy — hearty meals, soft blankets, candle-lit evenings, hot cocoa, and gatherings with loved ones near a warm fire. These winter activities also happen to be elements brought together to master the art of hygge, a Scandinavian word that describes the feeling of pure coziness.
The origins of hygge
Pronounced HYOO-guh, the word is originally Norwegian, but it became a staple in several Scandinavian cultures. In English, hygge can be used as a noun, verb, or a modifier. Although winter isn’t the only season one can experience hygge, winter’s chill inspires people to find creative ways to get cozy.
In December 2016, the use of the word hygge in the United States exploded, as reported by Google Trends. But as it’s grown in popularity beyond Scandinavia, has the original meaning of hygge been slightly warped?
Authentic versus commercial hygge
If you take a look at the #hygge tag on Instagram or Pinterest, you’ll find an endless supply of perfectly-posed sweets in cafes, peacefully napping pets, lovely interior design, and breathtaking landscapes. You’ll also find ads for all kinds of products, like $45 candles claiming to smell of hygge, $175 hygge-infused blankets, and $120 hygge clothing items.
But authentic hygge goes far beyond the tangible things that might inspire feelings of coziness. For those who grew up with it, authentic hygge is found when gathering and spending time with loved ones. It’s not something you can simply buy.
How to hygge
Like a warm sherpa blanket the season of hygge snuggles up to us before we know it. When the days grow shorter and the nights even longer, how do you find your coziness? Is it in a pair of warm socks or comfy old sweatpants? Perhaps it’s a mug of your favorite tea before bed, or freshly ground coffee in the morning.
Or is your hygge not a place, but a person? Are there loved ones you’ve been meaning to catch up with? With a little extra mindfulness, you can figure out how to infuse some hygge into your everyday life — without ordering something online or running to the store. Whatever hygge means to you, take those little extra moments in life to find it.