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cozy cabin in snow
What is "Hygge"?

The Scandinavian Lifestyle to Help You Get Through Winter

January 09, 2019

A finalist in the Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 “word of the year” contest, 'hygge' has been making waves across books and blogs all around the world.

But here in Scandinavia, it's not just a buzzword, but a part of the culture that has been implemented for generations. 'Hygge' comes from a Danish word meaning "to give courage, comfort or joy." Norway and Sweden each have their own versions, "koselig" and "mysigt," which are an integral part of everyday life, particularly in the winter months. As many of the team here at StormGeo are Scandinavian, we asked what this word really means to them (now and growing up), along with how others around the world can jump on board (even if their winter consists of sunny 70° days).

Hygge nytimes

Marc Rosenthal for the NY Times

1. What does “hygge” mean to you?

It’s more than just cozy — it's a mood, a vibe, a state of mind. It's a fireplace, red wine and blankets. It's when there's a storm outside, but inside there's hot cocoa and board games. It's a nice meal with friends. It's watching a good movie all alone with your favorite candy. It's walking your dog through crisp autumn leaves. It's when someone pops by for a quick visit, and ends up staying for hours because you're just having such a "hyggelig" time. Basically, it's quality time, and you can have that both in a big crowd or all alone. – Marion Penne, Executive Assistant and Quality Leader, Norway

Prioritizing cozy time with friends or family as the afternoons get darker and the weather gets colder. The opposites of hygge are stress, excluding people and noise. It's all about creating a warm, friendly and inclusive atmosphere; ultimately creating an understanding of being taken care of, seen and heard. It's also a good time to reflect on what is happening in your life. Jostein Maelan, VP Renewables, Norway

2. What is your favorite way to be hygge?

Being together with friends and family, enjoying a nice dinner with wine and candlelight, having good conversation where there is mutual trust and a low conflict level. – Anna Hilden, Global Industry Manager Offshore Wind, Denmark

cross country ski

Cross country skiing, Levi Halvorsen

Taking the weekend to go on a long cross country ski trip in the mountains. The best feeling is to come home to a warm stew, open fire, hot chocolate, red wine (maybe cognac) and relax while playing Yahtzee or cards. – Levi Halvorsen, Marketing Operations, Norway

Lighting the fireplace and some candles while drinking warm spiced tea with lemon in a big big cup. – Jostein 

3. What was something you or your family did growing up to get through the long winters?

My dad hung lights on a small hill next to our house, so us kids could go sledding even if it was pitch dark. Half the neighborhood would show up. We made a bonfire to keep warm, and the parents brought hot drinks and often joined in on the sledding.  – Marion

Visiting art exhibitions or going to concerts. – Anna

The whole family would get together to have coffee, tea and cake, bake cakes for Christmas, make presents together, or write Christmas letters. The goal was to create a common ground amongst us all and a sense of unlimited time. – Jostein

4. What is your favorite winter activity?

Christmas Breakfast Norway

Christmas breakfast at a Norwegian cabin, Marion Penne

Many Scandinavians would probably say skiing, but I actually love what comes after even more. Coming into the cabin after several hours in the snow, getting warm by the fire, playing board games with something strong in your glass. THAT is hygge! – Marion

Singing in my choir, Vokal Vest. – Anna

Reading a good crime novel. – Levi

Being out in nature, whether that's playing in the snow, skiing, snow racing or skating. – Jostein

5. What is one way people in other countries can bring a bit of hygge into their lives?

Make time to just enjoy yourself, whatever that means for you. The most important part is to appreciate that time. – Marion

Put away your phone, switch off the TV and just be together. Cook, go for a walk, have a good talk or bake a cake. You can even “hygge” all on your own — make a pot of tea and curl up under a blanket with a good book in your comfiest chair. – Anna

What my family does today are things that anyone can do. Having phone-free time, reading a story that has a nice message or a bit of moral wisdom, and lighting candles outside so that the neighbors feel free to come by for a visit. – Jostein