The Danish concept of hygge is perfect for all year long – a way to celebrate and enjoy each season even in its most precious details.
In an attempt to embrace winter, that oft cited scourge of Canadian living, I decided to take my cue from the Danish and their beloved concept of hygge. Hygge means coziness. The concept involves an ambience – the coming together of people, place and atmosphere in such a way as to create a sense of well-being. Unknown a decade ago, hygge has practically become mainstream showing up everywhere from Instagram photos, to home décor and bestselling books.
Even in the depths of winter, with a cold wind blowing at my front door, toes freezing and endless flurries falling, I made a cup of tea, put on my knitted socks, snuggled under a duvet and felt glad that this was the only season all year in which I could have such an experience. It was comforting to know that, taken as a vignette, this was absolutely prime hygge.
Hygge and winter had become inextricably linked in my mind. In fact, for Danes as well, hygge culminates at Christmas. Associating winter with hygge was helpful and it certainly broadened my appreciation for a season that had been otherwise a frequent topic of disgruntled conversation.
As spring approached, however, I cast hygge aside; its usefulness seemed out of place. Coziness in my mind was a feeling reserved for winter. No warm fireplaces to brace against the cold, no sequestering in a dank house against the elements, no more multiple layers of clothing and so, no more need for hygge. No, hygge had been replaced with the blossoming of flowers, longer days and warmer weather.
Then, one day, I came upon a photo of a picnic enjoyed by a group of friends and family who were all beaming. The food, the wine, the imagined chit-chat, the scenery, all, in their totality, gave a sense of well-being. It was then that I realized that hygge is an ideal for all seasons. It may be at its apogee in winter, but at its core it is about celebrating life even in its smallest and seemingly insignificant details.
This original article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.