In Pursuit of Hygge.

I know Hygge is a thing. I just never gave it much thought. Then we went to Copenhagen and it clicked for me. I understood Hygge. I also understood how the concept has been used in ways that don’t have much to do with Hygge.

The word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning ‘to give courage, comfort, joy’. But it is also speculated that hygge might originate from the word hug. Hug comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means ‘to embrace’. It first appeared in Danish writing in the 19th Century and has since evolved into the cultural idea known in Denmark and Norway today.
— Wikipedia

I want to be clear before going forward, Hygge is not something you can buy. Nor is it the minimal Scandinavian style that’s so sought after right now. It’s a feeling, it’s doing things to make you feel warm & cozy. It’s taking care of your soul. Whatever that means to you.

After we went through a Berlin winter and knowing that Denmark winter’s are just as dark and even colder, I think Hygge is a way of dealing with that. Something that the upper North of the US can relate to, but certainly not the South. I’m sure the concept applies to other months, but in the winter it’s a survival technique. A way to actually enjoy the long dark wet winter months.

Curious what Pinterest had to say, because I use Pinterest constantly, above is what the search looked like for me. Lot’s of “How To” graphics and pictures of neutral interiors with blankets & candles. Sure that looks cozy and nice.

Danes don’t binge then purge, like we do in the UK: they indulge. And it doesn’t do them any harm. Studies show that being kind to ourselves makes us nicer to the people around us. This has a ripple effect out into the wider community and society as a whole. So by embracing hygge, Danes make themselves and each other happier.
— Helen Russell

Helen Russell wrote a great article after living in Denmark about the attitude there. Hers is from a British perspective but I’ve come to understand that the British way of life, today, isn’t that far off from an American one.
Happiness basically comes down to arranging your life so you can enjoy your life. While the Denmark government is also in on it and that helps HUGELY (or is it BIGLY? reference intentional); doing what you can to make your life work for your happiness even when the government sucks is within your grasp.
While staying in Denmark at our Airbnb I watched as the neighboring courtyard was enjoyed all afternoon and well into the evening. No drunken ruckus. Just people enjoying themselves and each other, outside, with real plates and glasses, with thoughtfully set tables. This is Hygge.

Hygge doesn’t mean anything extra nice. Just thoughtful. Because you’re worth the thought and little bit of extra effort.

In my preparation for winter, My Pursuit of Hygge, I’ve been really working through what I need to do to make winter easier for me. Nicer. Possibly even enjoyable. Here are my ideas…

  • I am major going through the house and making sure everything has a place. Reducing clutter. Because when I’m wearing multiple layers and just spent an hour outside with my toddler, in the cold, I’m in no mood to take off all of our layers and put them on the clutter that’s sitting around. It makes me feel crazy. If it’s not worth making a place for then it’s not worth keeping.

  • We always eat breakfast and dinner together at our dining room table. I want to make it more of an experience, a ritual maybe. I’m rearranging a nearby closet so we can store our napkins and necessities in there so AJ can start setting the table himself, like he does at Kita. He has a place to find them and the same place to put them away after each meal. And the only thing I’m buying for Hygge, 1 simple but beautiful candle holder. I want to light a candle at dinner each night. When the sun has gone down at 4 I think the candle will feel like a special treat.

  • I’ve put together a Pinterest board, it’s private sorry, of Winter things I want to do. Recipes mostly. Some comfort baking. I can glance at the list and remember to do things for fun, for me.

  • Moving to a new country, not knowing anyone, and not speaking the language has been tough to meet people. To meet our people. To meet our tribe. I am making an extra effort to gather the people I’ve met around me. To reach out to them. To do nice things for each other. Come winter we’re going to need each other. It’s dark and lonely. Having people to come over and share a beer with will help immensely. (Said from a deeply introverted person, I know this step is not easy but it’s the most rewarding for sure.)

  • OK now I haven’t done this but it’s a consideration. Capsule Wardrobe. I’m considering having a capsule wardrobe for winter for the ease of it. Have you done it?? I want to talk about it.

For me, what I know Hygge to be, is a being comfortable with yourself and your surroundings. It’s creating a life that serves you rather than the other way around. It’s letting go of the stress. It’s deliberately living. Living on purpose. The pursuit of happiness. Do you like a clean well thought out space with objects you love? That’s Hygge. Do you like to be piled in blankets & pillows & chotskies? That’s Hygge. Take a moment when you’re drinking your coffee and enjoy your life.