I have my friend Marijo to thank, for bringing this Scandinavian custom to my attention again. I first heard of hygge a year ago. Greg showed me a book called The Little Book of Hygge. He told me, “This is what you do.”
I glanced at the book and thought it was interesting, but I didn’t pursue the topic. This past week Marijo tagged me on Facebook, bringing hygge back into my awareness. “This made me think of you” she wrote. I read the article she had tagged me on. And suddenly, it all connected. I understood myself better, which is always a good thing.
Hygge, pronounce hue • gah, is a Danish word without an exact English equivalent. It is way of life for the peoples of the Scandinavian region. It translates most closely to “creating an atmosphere of warm and coziness”. Hygge promotes peace and happiness, simplicity and togetherness, warmth and home, wholesome food and hot drinks.
Elements of living a hygge lifestyle include:
Surrounding yourself with family and friends and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. It’s gathering with those we love and celebrating life with good food and fun games and lively conversations. It’s backyard picnics and snuggling under thick blankets in front of a fire on a chilly evening, reading aloud or watching a movie. Togetherness is key to a hygge lifestyle.
Living in the present moment and practicing gentle self care. Hygge means relaxing in a hammock, spending an extra hour in bed, walking in the garden, learning a new hobby or soaking in the tub. It’s about journaling, being creative, having a pet to care for, and creating space to think and dream. Because it promotes healthy living as well, it includes cooking nourishing food and pausing during the day for a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate.
Creating a warm, welcoming environment at home. Hygge encourages warming up the home with textured quilts and cozy blankets, a crackling fire in fireplaces or fire pits, soft candlelight, lamps instead of overhead fixtures, piles of good books to read near a favorite comfy chair. Hygge is all about using simple natural furniture and decor, creating a soothing peaceful space. Piling pillows on beds and sofas, using rugs on the floor, letting natural light in, creating intimate spaces, bringing in plants and flowers, lighting scented candles and using calming neutral colors all contribute to a harmonious space.
I realized, as I have further researched what hygge is, that I have done these things all my life. I am naturally drawn to hygge, from my desire to create beautiful, intimate spaces to my backyard paradise to the bohemian style clothes I love to wear to the many candles throughout my home. My inclination to create vignettes is hygge. The way I nurture myself and decorate my home is hygge, as is my love of hot drinks and piles of pillows and linens, and my preference for lamps instead of overhead lighting.
I suddenly understood it all, in light of my recent DNA test results, when I read this statement by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, and author of The Little Book of Hygge. “Hygge is a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of our national DNA.”
DNA. DNA! My results show that I am 6% Scandinavian, a region that includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Hygge is in my DNA! How amazing to realize that. It brought years to my eyes and deep understanding to my heart.
So excuse me. The sun is setting. I will brew a cup of hot tea, turn on a few lamps, light candles, and add a few drops of Young Living lavender oil to my diffuser. My favorite blanket is draped over my chair and there are a couple of books nearby.
I am hygging. My Scandinavian is showing.