Denmark has up to 17 hours of darkness in the middle of winter. The average temperature for the season registers around 32°F, so people tend to spend more time indoors. Danes get cozy by the fireplace whether they’re alone or with family, but it’s also common to entertain at home during the cold weather months. Hygge, pronounced hue’ – ga, is a lifestyle that the Danish people have adopted to promote happiness on these days of lengthy darkness and frigid temperatures.
The further north you are, the more likely you are to have the potential of suffering from winter depression. Scandinavian countries are prone to Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD), which is why Denmark encourages hygge. It allows them to take time out to celebrate life, and for this reason they are the happiest people on the planet.
Hygge is a custom we could embrace this time of year since we are not far from the shortest day of the year, and night temperatures are already below the freezing point. A good description of it would be a romanticized coziness at home to combat the cold weather blues. It’s a way of indulging yourself in the things that make you feel warm, relaxed, and comfortable. The trick is, to slow down life to trigger this euphoria.
One of the best ways to set the mood of hygge in your home is to dim the lights and start a fire in the fireplace if you have one. The sound of crackling wood, a slightly sweet and smoky aroma, and tones of red, yellow and orange flames will set the mood. If you don’t have a fireplace, light candles. If neither are possible, watch a YouTube video of a fireplace on your Smart TV or a portable device.
For one of the ultimate hygge experiences hygge in your home, wear a warm sweater and woolen socks, wrap yourself in a warm blanket in a dimly lit room, while cuddling on the sofa with your significant other, child, or pet in front of the fireplace with candles flickering around you, and sipping on a cup of chai latte or a glass of wine. Or, spontaneously invite your neighbors over for a fondue or chili dinner. If you have a hot tub on your deck, whirlpool bathtub, or sauna in your basement, indulge for a moment. The goal is to feel comfort, tranquility, and joy all in a blissful moment.
Our lives can be hectic in the winter, with year-end reports to prepare, holiday hosting and shopping, and trying to get work done from home or entertaining kids on a snow day. It’s sometimes dark when we leave for work in the morning, and usually dark upon our return home, and this can be a bit depressing. If we give ourselves at least 30 minutes every evening this winter to enjoy hygge, we should feel as content as a Dane.