If you’re like us, you’re seeing the word hygge pop up everywhere. But what is it, and at the very least, how do you say it? Hygge (pronounced HUE-gah) is the Danish art of coziness, of unplugging and reconnecting yourself with nature, friends, and the little things in life that, during the course of a normal day, go whizzing by unnoticed. So how can you appropriately achieve hygge? We will show you in this blog post.
How did hygge come about?
Hygge began as a way to combat the long, cold winters of Denmark. During the heart of winter, there are only 7 hours of daylight with temperatures hovering around freezing. So for Danes, it’s not an event that only happens on the weekend but is more of a way of life, a manifesto. The result of all this coziness is apparent in the numbers: Denmark ranked number 1 as the happiest country in the world 2013-2015, according to the Happiness Research Institute’s World Happiness Report 2016.
There is scarcely a situation or part of your life that you cannot make more hyggelig. (Hyggelig, pronounced HUE-gah-lee, is the adjective to describe something with a high hygge factor. The word can also be used as a verb, as in, “Want to hygge?” and is often made compound as in kaffehygge, which is to stop and relax to have a coffee, either with a friend or alone.)
The most hyggelig place is your home, but only with the proper lighting. No central ceiling fixtures casting harsh light around the room. Candles (preferably unscented) provide the perfect light and are a huge part of hygge. Small lamps and, of course, a lit fireplace are also hyggelig. It’s hard to be cozy if you’re cold, so (hand-knitted) sweaters, blankets, and woolen socks are a must. Warm drinks such as coffee, tea, mulled wine, and hot chocolate add to the hygge atmosphere.
Getting a small group of friends together for an evening meal which everyone helps to prepare is a great way to practice hygge. Playing cards or a board game after—more hygge! (phones, iPads, and televisions are decidedly NOT hyggelig.)
Hygge is big right now. So big, in fact, that it made the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year list for 2016. So what can you do if you want to get your hygge on RIGHT NOW, when we’re just coming out of the winter months for which the lifestyle was conceived? We’ve consulted The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking for ideas and came up with a few of our own.
How do I hygge?
Start Seeds Indoors
Now’s the time to start thinking about what you’re going to plant in your garden this spring. Your local nursery can offer help with what grows best in your zone, or you can consult online seed companies, many of which offer free mail order catalogs. Choose seeds you can start indoors now to ensure you’ll have plants ready to go into the ground after the last frost. Planting not only flowers, but also vegetables and herbs to use in soups and stews this winter, is very hyggelig!
- Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery Co.
- J.L. Hudson, Seedsman:
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds
- New England Seed Company
- Gilbert H. Wild & Son
Take a Hike!
Nature has much to offer, even if the trees are still bare and streams are frozen. Dress in warm, breathable layers and grab a few friends. Be sure to pack a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee to enjoy while taking a break and soaking up the surroundings.
Make a Terrarium
Bring nature indoors with a homemade terrarium.
- jar or bowl
- activated charcoal
1. Recycle a glass container; mason, pickle, or pasta sauce jars all work well, as does an old fish bowl.
2. Start with a layer of rocks and small pebbles to cover the bottom of your container, at least 1 inch. This will serve as a drainage system. Since all layers of the terrarium will be visible through the glass, you can add a few seashells or beach glass for interest.
3. Add to this a layer of activated charcoal, approximately 1/4-1/2 inch thick, which will help clean the water and keep mold and bacteria at bay.
4. Top this with a layer of soil, preferably potting soil, to keep the chance of bringing bugs into your home to a minimum. Use enough to make a bed sufficiently deep to cover the roots of the plants you’ll be adding.
5. Lovingly place your plants in their new home! Make sure to cover all roots with soil and once complete, give them a good mist with a sprayer (misting is best because it won’t dislodge the soil and it’s hard to over-water with a mister). Feel free to embellish your terrarium with moss (either living or dried), twigs, even tiny plastic figurines and dinosaurs can be fun!
Celebrate All Things Maple
Maple syrup season is upon us. If you live in a part of the country lucky enough to have an abundance of these sweet trees, look for festivals that often combine tree tapping, candy making, and taste-testing with the usual fair games, rides, and eats. Here are a few sappy states to explore:
Maple Sugaring Festival: Lucas, Ohio,
Highland Maple Festival: Monterey, Virginia,
Pennsylvania Maple Festival: Meyersdale, Pennsylvania,
Hebron Maple Festival: Hebron, Connecticut
Byron Forest Preserve District: Byron, Illinois,
Hartman Reserve Nature Center: Cedar Falls, Iowa,
Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival: Vermontville, Michigan,
Now, what to do with all that syrup? Try these maple syrup recipes:
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs. pure maple syrup
- ½ tbs. Dijon mustard
- ½ tbs. honey
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a glass container or jar with a lid.
2. Whisk or shake jar vigorously until combined.
3. Serve with your favorite salad. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Maple Candied Bacon
- 1 lb. thick cut bacon
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Place the bacon on the wire rack.
3. Brush the bacon with maple syrup and sprinkle with brown sugar.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and apply maple syrup and brown sugar again. Bake for another 15 minutes or until it reaches the desired level of crispness.
Maple Soy Glazed Chicken
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tbs. sesame oil
- 2 tbs. pure maple syrup
- 2 tbs. soy sauce
- 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Combine maple syrup, soy, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.
3. Heat sesame oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat.
4. When oil begins to simmer, add chicken and brown on one side for 10 minutes, then flip.
5. Add maple soy mixture to the pan and let it come to a boil.
6. While mixture boils and reduces, turn the chicken a few times to ensure it gets completely coated.
7. When chicken is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes more (to 165˚F when thermometer is inserted), remove from heat and serve.
Brown Butter Maple Tarts
- 8 tbs. of unsalted butter
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbs. flour
- 2 ready made pie crusts, refrigerated
1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
2. Roll out the pie crust dough and use a 3 inch round cookie cutter to make 7 individual pie crusts. Place each crust in a muffin tin and set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam and foam (keep a close eye on it as it foams). Swirl it gently, watching for the color to turn golden brown and it begins to smell nutty. Remove immediately from the heat and whisk in the maple syrup, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour and stir to combine.
4. Divide the filling among the prepared pie crusts.
5. Bake until filling is puffed and crusts are browned, about 10-12 minutes.