The next time you start grumbling about chilly weather or the fact that it’s now pitch black when you leave the office, think of Denmark. There, the sun isn’t coming up until nearly 8:40 AM, and it’s all but gone by 3:30 in the afternoon. And during January and February, the thermometer rarely makes it above freezing.
Danish people know full well that winter is a long, hard slog. But instead of letting it get them down—or just going into hibernation mode for five months—they have something called hygge (pronounced hoo-guh).
If you were to try to translate it, hygge would be more of a feeling than a word. It’s sort of a full-on embrace of all things toasty, cozy, and restorative. Like that warm wave that washes over you when you ease into a hot bubble bath. Or that feeling that everything is right in the world when you hang out with your favorite people by the fireplace with mugs of hot cider (or bourbon). Or the simple joy of petting a sleepy kitten while it purrs. It’s all hygge.
“Hygge, during the short, dark days and long nights, is akin to wintering. To slowing down, allowing the year to fold in on itself, and tending to ourselves and to each other,” says Louisa Thomsen Brits, author of The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well. “It leads to a sense of a rich inner life that radiates out through bleak days.”
No, you might not be able to avoid waking up when it’s still dark or spending 20 minutes scraping ice off of your car. But when you bring hygge into your life, you’ll come to see that winter is much more than an endless string of those soul-crushing moments. In fact, it’s actually pretty darn great. Here’s how to give it a try.
(Find seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening tips every day inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)