This beautiful Danish concept has become quite commercialized, so that as soon as we hear the word hygge (pronounced hooguh), our mind jumps to bulky sweaters, crackling fires and hot chocolate (or mulled wine).
But hygge is so much more than these accouterments of a cozy retreat. Hygge is the following things:
Hygge is not just for cold, stormy weather. Hygge is for every day, all seasons. And hygge is especially important during the bustling, often stressful holiday season.
We know how much we try to cram into the weeks leading up to Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah and New Year’s. If you are like me, each year you say, “This year will be different.”
Well, it can be different with a little planning, a lot of awareness and hygge.
The most intriguing thing about our fondest hygge memories is that generally, nothing remarkable is happening. They are not major celebrations or formal parties or luxury trips or elaborate dinner parties.
Our fondest memories are like a warm, comforting hug that brings feelings of deep satisfaction and safety. That is hygge.
What memories bring you that warm nostalgia that is so comforting? Can you identify what you feel, hear, smell, or taste? Who are you with? Where are you? How does the space feel and look?
You may not readily be able to answer all of those questions. Yet I am 95% certain that at the heart of those memories is a feeling of harmony and togetherness. The two things not present are drama and mobile phones. Here are two of my most treasured holiday memories:
As a child, baking Christmas cookies with my mother and sister in our tiny ‘one butt’ kitchen. Dozens and dozens of cookies for family and friends were carefully prepared with love. And many ‘accidentally’ broken ones were eaten while we baked.
As an adult, Christmas morning in the years after my children realized who Santa was. We made a decadent brunch of Hershey Kisses pull-apart bread, fruit ambrosia with real pudding and whipped cream, quiche, and hot chocolate with more whipped cream.
Our morning stretched leisurely into the afternoon as we ate and opened gifts one at a time so that everyone could share the surprises, try out new gadgets and model new clothes.
The heart of these hyggeligt memories is, in its essence, unhurried time with people I love, laughter and sharing, and a sense of coziness that made me sure all is right with the world.
The Danes seem to have mastered the routines of hygge – and you can too. Here are two simple ways to get started:
First you can put on your ‘hyggebukser.’ These are those favorite pants that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in public but are oh, so comfy and immediately bring a sense of calm.
Or you can create your personal “hyggekrog” or cozy nook. This is a quiet corner, preferably with a view of nature. A comfy chair. Fresh flowers or a green plant. A candle or three. When things start to get hectic, this is your place of retreat with a cup of tea and deep breathing.
How do you get your hygge on? What are your memories of experiencing hygge? Do you have a treasured holiday memory you would like to share? Please share your stories below.