So what exactly is hygge?
According to Jeppe Trolle Linnet, a Danish anthropologist with a Ph.D. in consumer culture and hygge, you can’t get through a day as a Dane without using the word. Linnet says that if you feel an immediate sense of pleasure in a particular social or physical situation, you're experiencing hygge. Bronte Aurell, author of Scandikitchen: The Essence of Hygge, says it simply means to appreciate the moment you’re in, while you’re in it.
In a book on mindfulness, a Buddhist monk wrote that one should drink tea as slowly and reverently as the earth revolves on its axis. For Rocky Walls, the filmmaker behind the 2018 documentary Finding Hygge, this idea perfectly explains this approach to life. Walls discovered this mood-boosting ethos in 2016 during a trip to the Danish capital of Copenhagen, where he saw first-hand how the Danes took everyday moments and turned them into joyous ones — finding happiness even during the country's famously harsh winters.
In that spirit, here is some guidance from hygge adopters and experts on making winter a season of growth — from improving your space to saving money and investing in yourself.
How to hygge at home
Winters in Scandinavia are particularly dark and cold, so bringing elements of warmth indoors is imperative, and lighting is key to setting that hygge mood. Walls says LED lights with a soft and warm glow are his go-to, and he eschews anything labeled “daylight” or “blue.”
Candles are also very hyggeling (hygge-friendly), as are plush blankets. For Alexandra Gove, the co-owner of Hygge Life, a home design store in Vail, CO, it's also important that each room in the house reflect what you love and enjoy. She likes decorative pieces that spark memories or warm feelings, and paint colors that facilitate rest and rejuvenation. In the living room, she suggests arranging the seating in a way that encourages conversation, rather than facing a TV.
Gove favors soft, warm textures, and natural materials such as wood, plants or glass, rather than plastic. She recommends draping sheepskin throws on dining chairs and she keeps a basket of slippers at her front door — a fuzzy sensory experience for guests upon arrival.
Hygge also has an important place in the kitchen. How could a hot mug of cocoa on a cold day not elicit joy? Even dishes can embody this spirit. “There’s something very hyggeling about a bowl itself,” says Gove. She likes to fill them with healthy and warming ingredients, and she offers mismatched ceramic bowls to dinner guests, allowing everyone to choose his or her favorite hue.
Hygge in the kitchen is also about cooking together. Linnet suggests having step stools in the kitchen for kids, so they can help and be with you. Walls has warmed up to the slow practice of spending weekend days making hearty soups and meat stews (he boosts the nutrition by adding seasonal root vegetables halfway through). He likes how the scent of the simmering dishes fills his whole home.