Evening settles over the tundra early in January when Minnesotans experience only eight hours of daylight, half of what we get to enjoy in the summer months. We’ve been daily gaining precious minutes of sunshine since December, but these darker, colder mid-winter weeks set the perfect stage for living a more hyggelig (hygge-like) life. Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish lifestyle concept that became an international movement a few years ago. Its Scandinavian origins and our northern climate make the hygge model especially appealing to Minnesotans. We’re on board. Here’s how you can be too.
According to Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience that promote intimacy and coziness. The basic elements integral to creating a hyggelig space include things like candlelight; a comfortable corner or nook to cozy up; relaxed, casual clothing; blankets, pillows along with vintage style décor; steamy and delectable comfort foods and warm sips of tea, coffee or mulled wine; books; nature; and most importantly, togetherness.
Candles are central to much of hygge because their soft glow instantly create a sense of intimacy and calm. Electric lights can emit a similar effect if chosen specifically to provide lower temperature pools of light rather than a harsh overhead glare. Scandinavian lamp designs by Poul Henningsen, Arne Jacobson and Verner Panton are particularly popular with hygge enthusiasts. Check Design Within Reach in Edina or IKEA for similar styles. If eyestrain is an issue and you occasionally need brighter light, consider installing dimmer switches so you can lower your lights for those special hygge moments.
Fireplaces are another popular hygge element. Minnesotans already know how wonderful a warm fire can be after a day on the slopes or snowshoeing through the woods. A Minnesota touch could extend to an outdoor firepit or fireplace, a steaming hot tub or strategically placed patio heaters for those brave souls who enjoy congregating outdoors all year round.
For us indoor types, be sure you stock your gathering spaces with plenty of lap blankets, soft pillows and interesting books. Also, a basket of cozy wool socks is an incredible treat for guests who’ve removed their shoes.
Casual is key to the hyggelig life, something many work-from-home folks have lately become accustomed to. But that doesn’t mean you need sacrifice style. Just keep it minimalist with an emphasis on layers. According to Wiking, about a dozen years ago, a sweater worn by a Danish television show character became wildly popular among hygge lovers. You may not be able to get your hands on an authentic “Sarah Lund” sweater these days, but it’s super simple to discover similar styles in and around Edina. Add in a variety of cardigans, scarves, wraps and warm socks and you’re set. Because you cannot hygge when you’re cold.
Minnesotans are no strangers to the concept of comfort food. Cooking hygge meals is also about slow … taking your time to create a dish or a simmering pot and enjoying the process. Consider the creation of a hygge meal as a type of mindfulness that puts you into the present moment instead of thinking too far ahead. Turn off the TV, ignore social media alerts on your smartphone, light some candles, put on some soothing music, light a fire in the fireplace, pour a glass of wine or make a cup of tea and just savor the process of creating a nourishing meal for your family, your friends or just for your own enjoyment. Happy Hygge!
Local hygge items we love
Candlesticks and candles tucked inside lovely and reusable vessels are great when combined with earthenware items to create a natural vibe in your décor. ($18-$34) Available at Foxwell Studio and Shop; 4400 France Ave.; thefoxwell.com
Drape yourself in a cozy wrap adorned with soft fur to up your hygge style. ($262) Available at Serge + Jane; 4532 France Ave. S.; sergeandjane.com
Don that Danish vibe with the look of open knit sweaters. (starting at $62) Cap off your winter enthusiasm with a spunky beret topped with a fur pom. ($55) Available at Serge + Jane; 4532 France Ave. S.; sergeandjane.com
Soothe yourself into a hygge mind by sipping tea from a favorite mug. ($12) Available at Foxwell Studio and Shop; 4400 France Ave.; thefoxwell.com
What’s more Danish than a Danish? Indulge in your favorite European styled pastries right here in Edina from The Lynhall.