As the air gets colder and the days get shorter, we tend to find ourselves wrapped up in more layers and hunkering down. Many of us may struggle with this transition, as we prepare ourselves for less time outdoors and at events. Fall and winter become a time of slowing down, a time for resting, recuperating, and a time for finding comfort in all things.
In 2016, we found a word to describe this: hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), a Danish word meaning “comfort” or “cozy”. That year alone, more than 30 books were published on the topic, and many major news organizations like The New York Times and The Guardian published extensive think pieces discussing the lasting cultural impact of hygge. Candles, blankets, sweaters, and all things deemed “cozy” were marketed under the umbrella of “hygge”. But while this was a new concept to many of us in the US, Scandinavians have been practicing hygge since the early 1800s, proving the long term impact of comfort upon a culture.
But what exactly does it mean to live a hygge lifestyle? For many (including those writing think pieces and books on the subject), the word evokes images of cozy couches, layers of blankets, a hot cup of tea enjoyed next to a crackling fire. It is a plethora of vanilla scented candles, and time spent curled up with a good book. While there is nothing wrong with this interpretation of hygge (because who doesn’t love candles and warm beverages?), the concept of comfort extends far beyond the things you can buy or the way you live.
In these unprecedented times, I think it is important to seek comfort beyond our physical possessions and lifestyle; we must also find it in our relationships and the world around us. That feeling that you get when spending time with loved ones, enjoying a glass of wine and laughing so hard your stomach hurts? That’s hygge. Finding comfort in your family and friends is an incredibly important element to living a hygge lifestyle, as it is the people that we are surrounded by that make us who we are. We must be able to find strength in these people in order to live in true comfort, and it is important to maintain these relationships, especially through hard times.
So, how will you hygge this fall? Will you gather up your candles, and your friends, and your wine, and enjoy a cozy night of smiles and stories? Will you have a game night with your children, and take comfort in the strength that they have found in navigating changes in their everyday lives? And will you take the time you need to journal, read a good book, cook your favorite meal, and explore what cozy means to you? I know I will do all these things and more, and as the days get shorter and colder, I will take comfort in knowing that I am surrounded by an incredible amount of love.
Want to learn more about the art of hygge? Find The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking here