hygge is Hibernation, human-Style

Two winters ago, I met my friend and colleague, Fran, for lunch. After we left the restaurant in our local village, we walked past some shops and chatted. 


“I’m thinking of having a Hygge party,” she said. “Wanna come?”


“A hookah party?” My mouth dropped open at the thought of my retirement-age friend lounging around on gold-fringed velvet floor cushions, smoking a hookah pipe!


“What?” She laughed. “No, not hookah! H-Y-G-G-E, hoo-gah!”


“Ok, that helps,” I joked. “Seriously, though. What is it?”


She explained that it’s a party where you wear pajamas, sit under blankets, and drink hot cocoa.


I was intrigued. Whatever Hygge actually was, it sounded a million times more fun to me than going to some noisy cocktail party where people drink excessively to not feel awkward, then proceed to socialize and flirt awkwardly to music that is either too loud or too lame to qualify as actual music.


Fran never had her party, and I subsequently forgot all about Hygge until last week when I came across the word in an article. I did some research, and 


— allow me a quick digression here: like me, do you secretly miss the weight that word, research, used to carry? I do. Growing up, research meant driving to the local library, thumbing through a card catalog, jotting down sequences of numbers on oddly cut pieces of paper with a mini golf pencil, getting lost and asking the librarian for help, trying to figure out how to use the microfiche projector, then walking out proudly with an armful of heavy books. Now, when someone says they did some research, all it usually means is they typed it into Google, and clicked the first link that popped up! If you know anything about SEO, it doesn’t always mean the top links have the best information; it just means they have been clicked the most. Truly, the Internet is turning us into a society of people that value information not on its merit or veracity, but its popularity. Ok, back to Hygge — 


I learned that Hygge (which is actually pronounced hyoo-guh) is one of the defining characteristics of Danish culture. Despite Denmark having one of the darkest, coldest winters in the Northern Hemisphere, its citizens are among the world’s happiest.


Much of this is due to Hygge. 


So what is Hygge, exactly? It’s a lifestyle that values comfort and coziness above most else. It’s warmth. It’s digging in on a cold day in your fuzziest slippers and Hygge buskers (Danish-style loungewear), wrapped in a blanket, sipping tea or hot cocoa, surrounded by the flickering lights of several candles, reading your favorite book. It’s hearty comfort foods and a slower pace. It’s creating a home environment that is uncluttered yet warm, organized yet inviting.


It sounds AMAZING.


I don’t know what it is in my life right now that is pulling me toward creating a Hygge-centered home with a sense of urgency. Maybe it’s the year I’ve had — the year we’ve all had! Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been going at Mach 5 for several years now, and I’m just damn tired! Or maybe there is some Danish heritage in my DNA that goes back a dozen generations, I don’t know.


All I know is, for the next several months, I will be doing as the Danish do. With all that’s going on right now, there is no better time to settle in and prioritize rest and comfort over achievement and busyness.


I plan to leave my home as little as possible this winter. So if you need me, you can find me here, at home. I’ll be snuggled up and settled in, with hands alternately wrapped around a hot mug of steaming liquid, a book, or typing away at my laptop.


And I won’t be missing a thing.