Hygge 101

An intro into this comfy-cozy Danish way of life.

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is a Danish term that loosely translates into “cozy.” Although there is no literal English translation of hygge, it can be described as a coziness and comfort that is found in life’s simple pleasures and everyday events. Hygge has been a part of Danish culture for many years but is now starting to be celebrated and practiced in countries all over the world. While today’s fast-paced culture emphasizes and relies on efficiency and looming future events, hygge is a gentle reminder to slow down and enjoy what is happening in the present and to happily embrace the nostalgia held for comforting past events.

Why practice hygge?

Scandinavian countries spend half of the year in the darkness of winter. Much like in Canada, the long cold winters can seem never ending and can be particularly difficult for those who suffer from seasonally related depression. Hygge not only focuses on comfort and coziness, it also fixates on the feelings of safety that accompany these phenomena. Hygge has been practiced as a means to cope with the harsh seasons of Denmark so that small joys can be found even in the midst of a long winter.

How hygge is practiced

Hygge is often described as a feeling more than a concept, leaving it up to the individual to decide what brings them feelings of deep comfort. Hygge requires no equipment, it instead relies on the existence of simple actions and practices that produce a sensation of joy, comfort and safety. Examples include putting on your favourite pair of warm socks, drinking a warm beverage such as mulled wine, lighting candles, reading inside during a storm or having tea with a friend. Hygge can be spontaneous or practiced as a daily ritual, its only requirement is focus. Hygge is essentially a mindfulness exercise with the intent to leave you feeling in the moment and aware of the comfort in your actions and surroundings.

Incorporating hygge into your life
Whether in the midst of a harsh Canadian winter in most parts of the country or the long rainy season of Western Canada hygge is a valuable tool for getting through the dark grey days with your mood intact. Really take the time to relish activities that make you feel comforted and when you’re experiencing them try to stay in that present moment without worrying about future events. Hygge doesn’t have to come from traditional Scandinavian sources of comfort, it should be about the times in your life when you notice this feeling on your own. For example, hygge can be experienced when making a bed with freshly laundered linen and blankets or when walking into a library and smelling a room full of books. Hygge can also be a part of eating, next time you’re eating an all-time favourite food focus on all the wonderful things about it that you love. Not only will this help you experience the utmost enjoyment it will slow down the process, allowing you to feel satisfied on your own terms without diminishing the pleasure that’s being experienced.