It’s a cold winter night here in Iowa, and I’m writing by the fire, wrapped up in a blanket crocheted just for us (given as a wedding present more than a decade ago) and sipping hot chocolate. I am a true hygge cliche.
I first heard the word hygge on Facebook last month, and in true bookworm fashion, I immediately searched our library website to see if they had any titles on the subject. (Nope.) Then I Googled it, like any Gen-Xer would, and found a couple of articles I enjoyed reading:
Move Over, Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes, The New York Times
The Year of Hygge, the Danish Obsession with Getting Cozy, The New Yorker
The comparison to the KonMari craze that swept through the United States more than a year ago made me giggle. And while I typically roll my eyes at anything “trendy,” I honestly think our world can use a little more hygge right about now.
So what is hygge?
Good question. Hygge is a Danish word that roughly translates to English as “cozy.” (It is apparently pronounced “hoo-gah,” which is a real bummer because I’ve taken to saying it as “hi-ghee” in my head.)
How can hygge help us?
Last February, our family relocated to a small town in Iowa from San Antonio, Texas (where it is currently 76 degrees in the middle of winter).
We moved into our new house during a snowstorm and enjoyed the novelty of cold weather through mid-April. It even flurried during the Easter Egg hunt! (Exciting for this Texas girl.) And then suddenly, the tulips bloomed and we experienced the majesty of spring in the Midwest. We bought bikes and rode all over town.
The weather slowly warmed up, and we moved our outdoor activities to the pool, where I sat under a large umbrella with a good book all summer long.
Fall came–and it was glorious. The leaves changed colors and blanketed our yard. We watched squirrels gather food for the winter and took long adventure walks out by the Des Moines River.
By the time I realized that winter had returned, we were knee-deep in our Christmas celebrations. Days of below-freezing weather turned into weeks and then into a month. I started to feel guilty about the many hours we were spending down in the basement. And then I remembered hygge…
Since our library didn’t have any books about hygge yet, I turned to Amazon. (Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)
Hygge = The Cozy Life
I found The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg had good reviews and an affordable price, so I splurged on the Kindle edition. The book features more details about hygge, including insights from the author’s Danish father, adorable hand-drawn illustrations, and a 30-day hygge challenge (including things like taking a hot bath, wearing fuzzy slippers, and listening to soothing music).
Edberg tells us that hygge is similar to the principles shared in Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (releasing any items that don’t spark joy):
“Hyggeligt minimalism takes [decluttering] one step further. It’s about surrounding yourself with things that you love and not excess clutter that serves no purpose…When you look around your home, you want to feel joy, comfort, love, and perhaps a little nostalgia.”
The Cozy Life, Part 4
Instead of feeling guilty about our weeks spent indoors, I have decided to re-frame our winter experience through the lens of hygge. According to Edberg, “Hygge is about making peace with the cold, dark, and wet winters and is a joyful, warm, and cozy way to cope with the blues.” We can be thankful for the family time that we have enjoyed and look forward to taking hygge outdoors with us when spring arrives!
My favorite moments of hygge this winter:
- playing Uno as a family
- picnic dinners by the fireplace
- family movie nights with popcorn
- footie pajamas on my 5-year-old
- reading Because of Winn-Dixie to the girls
- baking a Winnie the Pooh cake
I’m inviting each of you to join me in being less distracted while we are with our families. This is a yearlong parenting challenge built on baby steps, with one small activity or idea coming your way on the first of each month. If you would like to be part of our distraction-free parenting series, just click here!