The Secret to Happiness at Home is Hygge — Here are 9 Ways to Practice it this Winter

published Nov 3, 2016
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Finding the words to convey sentimental feelings can be hard sometimes. Yet, the opposite is true when it comes to the Danish term “hygge.” Although there is literally no single translation for the concept (pronounced hoo-gah or hue-gah) the Danes use hygge to describe the warm feelings of happiness, comfort, and coziness—not unlike our idea of holiday spirit—they strive to achieve during the cold weather season.

You see, winters in Denmark are marked by long periods of darkness. The sun usually sets every day around 3 pm, which means it’s dark and gloomy out, a lot. But instead letting the bleakness get the best of them, the Danes invented hygge—e.g. feel good rituals like fireside chats with friends and dinner parties—to combat the inevitable feelings of ickiness that come from getting less sunlight. No wonder the holidays are considered the high times of hygge!

Needless to say, we think the people of Denmark are onto something. We put their theory to use and came up with some universal ways to keep content all season long. So read on for few ways to score your own sense of hygge at home this winter.

1. Eat good food

Fill your belly with warm meals that nourish both your body and soul this winter, especially rich vegetable stews and other homemade comfort cuisines.

2. Spend time with friends and family

Few things bring out the best in you like your loved ones do, so make a point to keep good company during the harsh weather and feel better from the inside out.

3. Relax by the fireplace

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a working fireplace, then odds are you’re already hanging out there. If not, find a friend that has one and set up a weekly movie night at their place—you’ll bring marshmallows to roast!

(Image credit: June Bhongjan)

4. Light lots of candles

It’s a Danish tradition, especially during the dark season, to brighten your home with candlelight as soon as the sun goes down. Try filling your own place with a fun assortment of fragrant candles to usher in extra warmth and light when it’s gross out.

5. Do you.

Whether it means twenty minutes of yoga in the morning or an hour of afternoon reading, make sure to set aside some real down time for yourself every day to help stay stress-free.

6. Design your interior

Nothing promotes positive living quite like a well-designed residence. Make a point to decorate your place with good lighting and comfortable seating and you’ll create a welcoming environment for both dwellers and guests alike.

7. Treat yourself

Put your oven to good use all winter long and make a habit of making cookies (or cakes, or pies) whenever you get the chance. Even if you’re not the best baker in town, there are still plenty of ways to practice and come off looking like a pro to visitors.

8. Drink hot tea…

Enjoy a hot mug of black or green tea at least once a day and you’ll stay warm and healthy throughout the cold weather season.

9. …or mulled wine

Known locally as gløgg, mulled wine is considered a Danish staple for hygge. Make your own version at home with cider, honey, cinnamon, oranges, and of course, a solid bottle of Cabernet and you’ll be more than set on holiday spirit(s).