Embracing ‘Hygge’: Cosying Up to Danish Winter Comfort

As winter's chill envelops us in its icy embrace, it’s the perfect time to embrace the Dane’s concept that warms both their homes and hearts. Enter Hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah"), a uniquely Danish philosophy that has long been considered a part of their national character. While there is no direct English translation, the concept revolves around creating cosiness, comfort, contentment, and a sense of well-being in everyday life. Embracing Hygge during the winter months allows us to slow down, savour the simple pleasures, and find joy in the midst of the season's darkness.

The Danes are reported to be amongst the happiest nations of the world, which is perhaps why this concept of Scandinavian cosiness has started to make inroads with an international audience in recent years. Below we explore what Hygge truly means and share seven delightful ways you can welcome this Danish concept into your life, to enhance your winter experience.

  1. Create a cosy ambience

Hygge is all about creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in your home. Consider using soft, warm lighting such as candles or fairy lights to create a gentle and calming glow. Opt for natural materials like wood and textiles such as wool and faux fur to add a tactile sense of comfort. Dim the lights, wrap yourself in a warm blanket, cosy up by the fire, and enjoy the comforting ambience that sets the stage for a truly hyggelig experience.

  1. Embrace Slow and Mindful Moments

In our fast-paced world, Hygge encourages us to slow down, appreciate the present moment, and relish in the simplest of pleasures. Take time each day to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. It could be sipping a cup of hot chocolate, reading a good book in bed, getting back into your favourite crafts, savouring the beat of your favourite music, practicing meditation, journaling, or taking a long hot bubble bath. Embrace these moments, free from distractions and devices, and allow yourself to fully immerse in the simple pleasures of life.

  1. Enjoy comforting food and drinks

Indulging in delicious comfort food and warming beverages is an essential part of Hygge. Prepare homemade soups, stews, hearty pies, fresh bread, and other baked goods that fill your home with incredible aromas. Savour a cup of steaming tea, hot cacao, or mulled wine while cosying up on the couch. The act of preparing and enjoying these comforting treats can be a hyggelig experience in itself.

  1. Foster Connection and Togetherness

Hygge is best enjoyed in the company of loved ones. Gather your family or friends for a cosy evening of board games, storytelling, or simply engaging in meaningful conversations. Create a nurturing environment where everyone feels comfortable, valued, and connected. Embrace the joy of shared experiences and cultivate deep bonds that warm your heart even on the coldest of winter nights.

  1. Embrace the Outdoors

Hygge doesn't limit itself to indoor spaces. Embrace the Danish love for nature by layering up in your favourite woollies and heading outside. Take a peaceful walk at the beach or in the bush, head out at sunrise or sunset to marvel at the changing hues, get out in the snow and build a snowman, go skiing, adventure to a slow and small town by the beach for a winter getaway, or organise a campfire with friends while you toast marshmallows and gaze at the stars above. Engaging with nature during winter can evoke a sense of tranquillity and awe, reminding us of the beauty that exists even in the bleakest of seasons.

  1. Cultivate Hygge in your Work Environment

Hygge doesn’t sound like it fits with work, does it? But it can! Personalise your desk with touches like a plant, a scented candle, a beautiful picture that brings you joy, or perhaps bring a soft blanket to work (and put your Ugg boots on underneath the desk while no one is watching!). Take short breaks to grab a warm cup of tea, go for a lunchtime walk with your favourite work colleague, or head to a relaxing place nearby on your break to journal or practice meditation. By creating a hyggelig at work, it helps to combat the winter blues and enhance your general well-being.  

  1. Practice Gratitude

Hygge encourages us to appreciate the small moments and find joy in the ordinary. Cultivate gratitude by keeping a journal and writing down three to five things you are grateful for each day. Really feel those feelings of gratitude and think of why you are thankful for that aspect of your life. Reflecting on these moments of appreciation helps to shift your focus towards positivity and contentment, allowing you to fully embrace the Hygge spirit throughout the winter. 

So there we have it! Embracing the slow of the winter season and relishing in simple pleasures like the Danes, can really enhance our joy this season. A final valuable insight learned from enduring the chilling Scandinavian winters (where there is only 4-5 daylight hours !!), is that weather itself cannot be labelled as good or bad; it is our choice of what we wear, how we interpret our surroundings, and our attitude, that determines our overall comfort and contentment levels. The Dane’s teach us that during more challenging times, the essentials for survival are not extravagant - but rather, the basic provisions of how we take shelter in our homes, how we wrap up, nourish our bodies, and foster companionship of our loved ones – are really, the only things we need.