“Hygge” Whaaaaa? Part One

Our tradition is to spend our wedding anniversary at the St. Paul Hotel because this was where we spent our first night as a married couple. This year, however, extenuating circumstances forced us to make a change. Instead, of celebrating on our anniversary in December, we spent 4 days and 3 nights, Feb. 26-March 1, at Breezy Point Cabins on Lake Superior.

We had never been to the North Shore in winter before, so, at first, we thought this would be a nice winter writing retreat. By the time we got there, we the trip was much more than a simple retreat.

On Feb. 2nd, I received an Explore Minnesota email entitled Dare to Do Winter Differently! Scanning the email, an article caught my “Winter is Hygge Season in Minnesota.”


Erica Wacker explains:

Minnesota takes a lot of cues from Scandinavia, with numerous shops, restaurants, cultural attractions, and even the name of our football team paying homage to this idyllic Northern European region. While Scandinavians have been immigrating to Minnesota for centuries (close to a third of the state’s population is of Scandinavian descent), a more recent import is the trending concept of hygge. Though no direct translation exists, hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) encompasses the coziness, comradery and contentment that have long been tenants of winter in Minnesota.

She continues to describe sipping hot cocoa at a ski lodge or basking in the glow of a fireplace. Having read this section, I felt warm and cozy inside because this was EXACTLY the type of vacation I wanted to have.

I kept the email with the intention of showing Joel about the new term and seeing what his take was. But like all great intentions, it fell by the wayside. Fortunately, Hygge is everywhere! As I was reading the March edition of Mpls. St. Paul Magazine sitting next to Joel, they also had an article: Ways to Turn Up the Happy this Month on Hygge which reads: “Winter is fizzling and spring hasn’t yet sprung, but we’re channeling the trending word of the moment, hygge (pronuounced hue-gah), a Danish term for cozy and well-being.” The magazine introduces a book by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute titled The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living. Within minutes, Joel had the book ordered from Amazon and delivered to our house in 2 days.

Wiking provides us with:

The Hygge Manifesto:

  • Atmosphere: Turn down the lights.
  • Presence: Be here now. Turn off the phones.
  • Pleasure: Coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candy, hot drinks.
  • Equality: “We” over “me.” Share the tasks and the airtime
  • Gratitude: Take it in. This might be as good as it gets.
  • Harmony: It’s not a competition. We already like you. There is no need to brag about your achievements.
  • Comfort: Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation.
  • Truce: No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day.
  • Togetherness: Build relationships and narratives
  • Shelter: This is a place of peace and security.

Now, this manifesto is simply an outline of Hygge for Wiking. He spends 221 pages going into depth about each of these practices. But, don’t get me wrong, this book makes you feel as if you are celebrating Hygge as you read it. It is relaxing, witty and provides descriptions so that you feel as though you are with him.

Another section of importance is the

Hygge Wish List: 10 Things that will make your home more Hygellig:

  • A Hyggerkrog (translates into “a nook”)
  • A Fireplace
  • Candles
  • Things Made out of Wood
  • Nature
  • Books
  • Ceramics
  • Think Tactile
  • Vintage
  • Blankets and Cushions

As Joel and I read this book, we realized that we have been practitioners of Hygge year round ever since we have been together. Although we have never had a fireplace at our residences, we spend many a day sitting next to each other reading books, surrounded by candles, watching the snow fall.

I think we incorporate Hygge into our lives year round. Many beautiful summer days, you will catch Joel and I sitting in lawn chairs by a lake reading and being cozy together.

Joel’s Artsy Photography of Our Summer Day Reading!

And so, for our anniversary celebration, Joel and I had a mission: to incorporate Hygge as a part of our anniversary tradition.

Stay tuned for how we did in the next post!

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