On this blog, we want to not only feature ways to best research your Scandinavian ancestry, but also help you connect with the culture and traditions of the Nordic countries. The way your ancestors lived shaped their lives, and it’s important to understand that part if you really want to fully appreciate your heritage. In this blog post, we share a few ways with you on how to embrace more hygge in your life! So light a candle, grab a blanket, and enjoy our 101 post on how to enjoy and live life to the fullest…the Scandinavian way!
Ever Heard of Hygge?
During the long and dark winter months of the year, Scandinavians traditionally try to interject as much light as possibly into their lives. The Lucia festival, which happens on December 13th every year, is just one example of this. But light doesn’t just mean actual light. It also means conform, joy, and well being. It’s something that consistently lands the nordic countries on the top 10 list of the happiest people on earth. Your ancestors also embraced this concept. It’s called Hygge, and it’s the subtle art of happiness.
What Exactly is Hygge?
Hygge is pronounced hue-guh. It can be used as a noun, adjective, or a verb. The word comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well being” and it’s a centuries old Scandinavian / Danish concept that is used to describe a moment or feeling that is cozy, special, or charming. It brings to mind pleasant, engaging, mellow, good-humored, safe, and snug environments. It’s comfort and pleasure combined. It’s that inviting glow of The Shire from The Hobbit. The smell of candy and coffee on a warm summer night at Disneyland outside the Penny Arcade. It’s The Great Hall with all the floating candles in Harry Potter. It could also be sipping on a glass of wine with a friend, or taking a relaxing bubble bath. There is no one thing that equates to the idea; instead, it’s all of them combined. It’s a general state of mind towards how you embrace life. After all, who doesn’t want happy?
Where did Hygge come from?
According to research, the Danish borrowed the word Hygge from the Norwegians and made it into a broader concept. Since both countries are known for their cold snowy winters, hygge is often associated with lighting candles to make a place feel warmer. The idea also embraces cabins, wool, homemade crafts, knits, and fireplaces. Fair isle? Yup, that’s hygge too. The Norwegians connect it to nature and sometimes to spending time in the snow. The Danish version of hygge, however, adopts many other definitions as well. It’s probably because of this that it has become a widely used concept in Scandinavia. It was the word of the year in the Oxford and Collins dictionary in 2016, so that officially makes it an English word. And you might liken it to the yin and yang of Asia – the idea of maintaining harmony. But come on, who are we kidding? It’s undeniably Scandinavian.
Recognize It When You See It!
Advertisers use the idea of hygge to sell us specialty drinks, books, clothes, travel packages, yoga mats, home furnishings, and the list goes on. Go ahead and type “Hygge” into Google and just see what comes up. Along with all types of articles, posts, studies, and scholarly research, there is a huge market produced off this entire idea. I can’t blame them. It is quite hygge in itself to envision this concept. Any number of chocolate commercials come to mind. And don’t be surprised if your friends name their newborn Hygge! It’s a part of popular culture now, so learn to recognize it when you see it because there’s a reason why it works! It’s happiness buttoned up. If they haven’t already done it, might I suggest that SNL do a sketch about it? #SNL #Hygge
Why Do I Want To Embrace Hygge?
It’s the little moments that count. We all know that. But how often do you stop and smell the roses? How many of these moments do you really have in your life? Are you over-worked? Overstressed? Distracted? If you answered “yes,” I’m not surprised. We are have so much going on these days that it’s hard for any of us to not feel overwhelmed. That’s why it’s time to start embracing hygge now, especially if it’s a new concept to you. Putting a little more happiness into your life will improve how you feel, flow, and walk through life.
We can safely say that anyone who is quintessentially Scandinavian embraces hygge on a regular basis. It’s built into the culture. Scandinavia tends to slow down and savor the moments more so than the rest of the world. But don’t worry, you can embrace hygge no matter where you live. In fact, it’s possible that you have already incorporated it into your life without even realizing it until now. Do you meditate, read books curled up in your favorite chair, or write a daily journal? If so, you already know what I’m talking about…it’s the things you do for yourself to enjoy life that count. And yes, there is a word for all of it! Thank you Scandinavia!
The Big Hygge Idea List
Okay, so that is 101 on Hygge. To give you some ideas to implement, here’s our big list of creative, engaging, happiness-creating things to do:
- Lighting candles
- Using aromatherapy
- Burning incense
- Creating homemade crafts
- Having a glass of wine with friends
- Leaving out bowls of healthy snacks in your home
- Turning off all distracting electronics
- Playing some relaxing music
- Adding rugs to soften an area
- Engaging in friendly conversation
- Taking a few deep breaths
- Partaking in stress-free cooking
- Using blankets generously
- Reading a novel or book
- Putting flowers on the table
- Scattering rose petals
- Giving your cat some yarn to play with
- Enjoying some cheese and wine
- Sharing jokes with friends
- Trying an adult coloring book
- Making popcorn or eating some rich chocolate
- Reflecting on your day with gratitude
The list above can set you in motion, but you absolutely can take or leave whatever you want. You can also add or adjust anything on the list to fulfill specific tastes and make it your own. After all, it is about creating an atmosphere that will make YOU happier. If you’re as snug as a bug in a rug then you are on the right track.
The Big Hygge Book List
If you are more interested in the Scandinavian way of life and this post hasn’t quite scratched the itch, here’s a list of books on the topic:
- The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
- Hygge: A Danish Concept of Cosy and Simple Living by Noah Nielsen
- The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well by Louisa Thomsen Brits
- How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen
- Live Lagom by Anna Brones
- Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg
- The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
- Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures – Living the Danish Way by Charlotte Abrahams
- The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge by Pia Edberg
- Joy of Hygge by Jonny Jackson and Elias Larson
- The Hygge Life: Embracing the Nordic Art of Coziness Through Recipes and Entertaining by Gunnar Karl Gíslason
- Hygge Knits: Nordic and Fair Isle Sweaters, Scarves, Hats, and More To Keep You Cozy by Nicki Trench
- Making Winter: A Hygge-Inspired Guide For Surviving The Winter Months by Emma Mitchell
- The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen
- The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme
I’m sure you’ll find more than just these book if you look – these are just the ones we like. There are also wonderful podcasts out there….and don’t forget YouTube either! You know…Now that I think about it, just being able to pronounce Hygge correctly brightens my mood. No wonder Scandinavians are so happy! Even the language lifts spirits. 😉
Now we want to hear from you! Have you put a little Hygge into your life? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
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