What is Hygge and How to Achieve a Cozy Lifestyle

What is Hygge?

Hygge has gained even more popularity over the past few years, and with good reason. More and more of us are looking for a way to cultivate peace and serenity within ourselves and in our homes. When it comes to those two things, as well as comfort and coziness, nothing beats Hygge. However, not many truly know what it is and how to apply it to their lives.

Hygge Definition

The Hygge pronounciation is “hoo-ga.” This is actually a concept originating from the Danes, which represents feelings of contentment and coziness. It’s all about finding joy in the simpler things in life, such as your cup of coffee or spending an evening reading your favorite book. These are just some of the things which many of us either neglect or overlook in favor of grander sources of joy.

How to be happy? The lifestyle can help you cultivate small, but meaningful sources of joy in your life.


The Art of Hygge

According to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, the Hygge life is as deeply associated with the Danes as freedom is to Americans.

One can even refer to it as a “national obsession,” but it’s one that greatly contributes to the Danes’ overall happiness. It has been credited as being one of the top reasons why Denmark always ranks at the top when it comes to the world’s happiest countries. This is despite their often unforgiving and gloomy winters.

With that in mind, it really is about time that the rest of the world caught up. After all, the Hygge lifestyle does not require big purchases in order to be effective. You don’t really need a Hygge subscription for it. The real investment is one that you make toward yourself. This is what’s at the very core of the concept. However, you can add certain things to your surroundings that would make it cozier and relaxing, too!


Hygge Meaning – The History of Hygge

Hygge and The Danish
Photo by PIXABAY

If you think that this is also a fairly new fad in Denmark, you are quite mistaken. It is similar to the Dutch idea of gezelligheid or the German concept of gemütlichkeit, both of which promote warmth and coziness. How to live Hygge? This has been a key aspect of Danish culture since the 1800s, back when it first appeared in their written language. The word Hygge was actually derived from the Norwegian word for “well-being.”

Hygge can be used both as a noun and as an adjective. It was never really a trend, as it was a natural way of living for the Danes. The concept first received international attention in the United Kingdom, after the publication of one Hygge book after another. Its popularity grew to such a degree that it was even included in the Collins Words of the Year for 2016.

By the following year, the Hygge definition reached American shores where the public quickly latched on to it. Journals such as The New Yorker and even The New York Times all covered the topic. Social media was ablaze, with Pinterest predicting Hygge interior design to be one of the top trends for 2017. Of course, this also became the catalyst for online discussions about what is Hygge and what isn’t.


What Does it Mean to Live a Hygge Lifestyle?

hygge book
Photo by Stella Rose on Unsplash

Funnily enough, most people often simplify it to an aesthetic. In some way, aesthetics such as home décor do play a part in creating a cozy home, but it is also so much more. Going back to Wiking’s book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, he outlined six different components that are essential to Hygge.


In Wiking’s book, he says that about 57% of all Danes think that in order to have Hygge, a group should be comprised of around three to four people. This smaller number creates more intimacy and is just right when it comes to both feelings of coziness and support. The Hygge life is as much about the company you keep as it is about your surroundings. Togetherness factors significantly into the equation and the people you spend time eating, drinking, and conversing with.


How often do you notice the lighting in your personal space? Going back to Wiking’s book, he dedicates an entire chapter on the importance of lighting. He even claims that “no recipe for Hygge is complete without candles.” In fact, more than half of Danes light up their preferred Hygge candles during autumn and winter. While light is important, they also prefer a warmer and softer glow as opposed to bright fluorescents.

Food and Beverages

This practice is big on comfort food and treating yourself to the good stuff. Hygge coffee is very much a thing, but having hot choco provides a similar warmth. It can also help you create a better relationship with food in general. One key thing to remember is to never eat to the point of regret. It’s all about appreciation of the present moment and mindfulness.


Hygge style clothing emphasizes comfort. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you feel like you’re being wrapped in a tight hug! Think of chunky knits, oversized sweaters, soft sweatpants, and fluffy socks. Casual is key when it comes to Hygge. If the weather allows for it, layers are also essential! Hygge yarn? Only the softest for both knitted wear and blankets!

Home Décor

Hygge is, most often, experienced within our own homes. This is why many people who practice it invest in creating a cozy sanctuary for themselves. What are the essentials? Wooden or natural furniture, vintage accents, an abundance of pillows and blankets, books, and gentle lighting.


How to live Hygge? The practice centers on cultivating a lifestyle that helps restore and rejuvenate you. It is a healing practice that not only affects you mentally, but also has physical effects as well. Not only that, it will also improve your relationship with food, allowing you to enjoy without any sense of guilt or stress.

The Hygge meaning focuses on you and your needs, then toward how you relate with others in your life. It centers on cultivating a lifestyle that helps restore and rejuvenate you. This is a healing practice that not only affects you mentally, but also has physical effects as well. It also helps with bettering your relationship with food, allowing you to enjoy without any sense of guilt or stress.


Examples of Hygge Home Aesthetics

Hygge Bedroom
Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Hygge Bedroom

Since this is the room you’re meant to relax in, keep it as cozy as possible. Pile up enough pillows so you feel as if you’re sleeping on clouds. Lighting should always be gentle to help induce sleep. Do remember to use light and neutral colors that are easy on the eyes.


Hygge Living Room
Image by Martina Kopecká from Pixabay

Hygge Living Room

This should be treated in a similar way to your bedroom, except you have more allowance for self-expression. Display your favorite photos or art, and even have a few décor pieces (such as a hygge blanket!) scattered around. Lighting is just as important and during the daytime, allow as much natural light in as possible. Do use more natural furnishings in your space to maintain warmth.


Hygge Kitchen
Photo by Sinitta Leunen from Pexels

Hygge Kitchen

The kitchen should be kept neat, but inviting. To achieve this, display your most treasured pieces. You can also have hanging baskets of fruits and veggies to add a pop of color to the space. Have available seating when possible as well! Conversations can also be had in the kitchen, after all. This openness is in line with the Hygge philosophy. It’s all about that homey vibe.

*Vibe Definition: “a person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated to and felt by others.”


Examples of Hygge Fashion

There’s no right or wrong type of Hygge clothes, however, there are quintessential pieces that really suit its philosophy. Here are some examples of common Hygge fashion you might see:

Chunky Knitted Sweaters
Photo by Karolina Ostrzolek from Pexels

Chunky Knits

These are a staple, not just because of the cold weather, but also because they’re one of the most comfortable things one can wear. Imagine wearing the softest and fluffiest blanket you own. This is a staple when it comes to cozy clothing.

Knitted Scarves
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Thick Scarves

The thicker the scarf, the better? Followers of the practice will certainly agree. Not only does it double up your protection against the elements, it also amps up the coziness factor. Whether you’re keeping warm at home or walking around town to enjoy the season, a scarf is a must.

Wool Socks
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Wool Socks

For lounging around at home, these thick socks are certainly an added bit of warmth that’s most welcome. They are another staple when it comes to cozy fashion and would also make for great Hygge gifts, too.


What Is and Isn’t Considered Hygge

Given its popularity, the Hygge lifestyle has become big business. There are whole companies that cater to those looking to experience it for themselves. There are even Hygge tours being offered in some major Danish cities! Hygge vloggers or authors who talk about it and how to practice have also gained significant popularity over recent years. If you are seen as an authority on the subject, you might even be interviewed for magazines or get your own show!

The Hygge business goes against its philosophies. For example, Hygge isn’t meant for showing off. So, finding millions of images hashtagged under it on various social media can be exhausting and also creates an idealized version of the concept, ultimately turning some people away from it. Because, really, why would anyone want to purchase a blanket costing hundreds of dollars just to make sure their aesthetic appears authentic?

Going back to the basics, real Hygge is without ambition and is more of a celebration of what you already have. It’s about being with people, not to be seen, but simply to enjoy the moment. If your Hygge aesthetic is for showing off or making a profit from it, then you’re already doing it wrong. It should never make you feel exhausted or as if you’re in a competition.


Cottagecore and Hygge – What’s The Difference?

Cottagecore and Hygge
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While both do emphasize feelings of comfort and coziness, there is one major difference between the Cottagecore movement and the Hygge aesthetic.

Cottagecore is a relatively new concept, which promotes an idealized version of pastoral life. Think: golden afternoons in grassy meadows, growing one’s own food, tending to animals, and living in a cozy cottage somewhere in the countryside. It harkens back to simpler times with a touch of whimsy. There’s also an emphasis on sustainability and choosing a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Unlike Hygge, however, the Cottagecore aesthetic is quite maximalist. Collecting all sorts of trinkets and memorabilia is commonplace. The use of pattern, florals, and lace is quite generous. This is in stark contrast to the Scandinavian design minimalism, where the focus is on lighting and the basics.

The Similarity

That said, both movements intersect when it comes to mindfulness. Much like the Hygge life, Cottagecore follows a more intentional way of living. Taking time to smell the flowers is a tenet for those who subscribe to the lifestyle. It’s finding joy and contentment in what you have, and getting to spend more time with those you value in life.


How to Spend a Hygge Christmas

The holidays are actually a great time to start incorporating more coziness into your lifestyle. It adds more warmth to your season and helps you focus more on celebrating, rather than being stressed out about it. Danish Hygge suggests that you can also include traditional Scandinavian Christmas dinner ideas to your menu as a way of slowing down the moment and really bringing more of that holiday spirit into your home.

Scandinavian Hygge vloggers also suggest the use of fragrant ingredients such as cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, caramelized sugar, sweet wine, butter, anise, and cinnamon. Add some dried oranges and ginger on top of that, and you’ll have your home not just radiating warmth, but smelling like it too. If you’re looking for Keto foods for Christmas, here’s our favorite cinnamon roll recipe from KetoConnect.


Hygge Christmas Décor

Hygge Christmas
Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels

Aside from making sure you have lots of blankets and pillows to keep your home cozy and warm, you can also add more texture and color to your Holiday Hygge décor. Instead of sticking with a silver or gold theme, why not try using more natural materials? Flowers and greenery will bring more of the outdoors into your home, adding a touch of earthiness.

Aside from having Hygge furniture, consider adding some of these:


Instead of purchasing a store-bought plastic one, why not opt for something natural instead? All you really need is some straw, wire, and spruce. If you have access to pine cones, winter berries, and dried flowers, then add those, too. Since it places emphasis on spending time with loved ones, why not turn this into a project you can do with your family?

Use What You Have

As we’ve established, the Hygge lifestyle means being content with what you already own. It is possible to decorate in Hygge style without having to spend a dime. Aside from looking at your surroundings, you can also look inside your home. Stacking up decorative bowls or using food (fruits, in particular) as décor is also a good idea.

Cluster Candles Together

Keeping safety in mind, clustering your favorite Hygge candles together can add more coziness and intimacy to a space. These can be used as table centerpieces or in lieu of an actual log fire for your fireplace. Candles also make for great Hygge gifts!

Fairy Lights

In instances where candles aren’t possible, especially if you have young children running around at home, fairy lights work very much in the same way. You can string them around tree branches or wine bottles to act like a makeshift lamp or place them in glass containers to soften their glow.

Keep Things Inviting

Use your Hygge blankets generously and if you have the space for it, create room on the floor for people to sit in. Huge, fluffy pillows help with making your space a lot more inviting. Why not stack up some of your favorite books where they can be easily accessed? These can become practical décor and make for easy conversation starters.

Comforting Smells

Last, but certainly not least, consider the way certain Hygge scents can affect the ambience of your home. To complete your holiday vibe and amp up the coziness level of your home even further, think about adding more natural, yet subtle scents around your home. Eucalyptus is one you can use, on top of the other examples we have mentioned prior, like cinnamon and cloves.

There are no rigid rules to this and it usually becomes better if you add a bit more personality to it. Think of the Hygge aesthetic as a foundation you can build upon.


In Closing:

We all live in a time where self-care often tends to be neglected in pursuit of other things. While there’s nothing wrong about working hard to meet our goals, we must also remember to think of our well-being first. Hygge brings us back to what’s essential—the creature comforts we tend to sacrifice, but are actually key to how productive we are.

While making an entire lifestyle switch might be a bit much for some, additional Hygge supply in your daily life is enough to get started. You might be surprised at how much it can benefit you!