What is Hygge? (And Why November is the Perfect Time to Practice It)

You may have heard about this term HYGGE. It’s gaining in popularity on the internet even though the concept isn’t exactly new.

So what is hygge?

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah” for all of us that aren’t either native Dutch speakers or haven’t seen Frozen on Broadway yet) is the Danish word for a feeling or a moment that is cosy, special, warm and magical.

You’ve probably experienced hygge already in your life and you didn’t even know it.

You know that feeling you get on Thanksgiving when everyone is enjoying themselves, the house is relatively quiet, and you’re just in the moment? That’s hygge.

That feeling when you’re spending time together with friends, laughing and having a great time? That’s also hygge.

That feeling you have when you get to spend an hour drinking a cup of coffee in a warm sweater, watching the snow fall from inside but not needing to be anywhere quite yet? Hygge.

It’s not really about big and grand or special - it’s about those little moments that makes your heart warm, that you treasure, that are magical that are hygge.

Hygge is a way of living minimally

Hygge is not really about what you do, but how you do it.

It’s in a sense, the Danish way of being mindful, living in the moment and celebrating life as it is. It’s about enjoying the present, being thankful and grateful and joyful. That feeling - that is hygge.

Hygge is about finding your tribe - and loving them hard

Hygge isn’t meant to be a solo experience either. Although there are times of hygge that can be experienced alone, much of the description of hygge involves other people - friends, family and loved ones that share in the experience with you.

One of the words used to describe hygge is ‘kinship’ - the idea that you’re going through the same experiences with people that understand you and are supportive and cheering you on. We surround ourselves with people who are good to us, support us, and help us achieve greater things - our tribe so to speak.

Experiencing hygge is very much about loving your tribe and having them love you back too.

Hygge is about breaking up the cold and dark winter

I’m not sure about you, but I do find myself changing with the seasons. Although a month ago I was complaining about how hot it was, now I am finding myself changing my mood and thoughts based on the fact that it is getting dark so quickly now, the temperatures make it less pleasant to do anything in the evening, and I’m wanting to just curl up in bed all the time.

While there’s nothing wrong with curling up in bed all the time, I think it’s important that we connect with one another during the winter months. There’s a reason so many celebrations occur this time of the year - it can be very dark and cold and lonely. Especially for those people who may have a hard time during the holidays, it’s important for all of us to come together and celebrate the year and the joys of life with others.

The simple act of lighting candles, having a meal with others, getting a cup of coffee with a friend to catch up, or caring for one’s self can really break up the season from being filled with dark and cold and silent days.

Hygge doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated

What I realized about hygge is that it isn’t really about making things big or flashy - which can sometimes seem like a very American attitude towards everything! Rather, hygge isn’t about how grand or how extreme things are - it’s about the little things. This is where hygge fits so well with minimalism - hygge is for the most part a very simple venture.

Don’t get me wrong, hygge can be extraordinary and spectacularly mind blowing. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

For example, while you can get more extravagant, a simple home-cooked meal with friends is perfect for experiencing hygge. You’re not going all out on the meal, but you’re still providing the perfect opportunity for everyone to get together.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a spa day to pamper yourself - take care of yourself at home with a long and hot bath, facial mask, some candles and soft music and a big fluffy bathrobe.

You don’t have to necessarily book a vacation in a Swiss chateau to be happy - you can just get snuggled into your home with a lot of pillows, a thick blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and a great book.