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How Readers Told Us They Get Through Winter

Here are some fantastic ideas to create 'hygge'

By Heidi Raschke

Congratulations! You made it. Winter is pretty much over. Even if it snows after the official first day of spring, longer, brighter days are here again. It seems like ages ago that it felt like winter would never end and we were pinning our hopes of an early spring on a sleepy groundhog. Around that time, we ran a story about the Danish practice of hygge — a way of embracing long dark days that’s suddenly become all the rage in the United States.

“The word hygge,” we reported, “essentially translates to connection, coziness and fellowship — with forbearance and optimism thrown in for good measure. It’s finding joy in simple pleasures and communing with loved ones in a low-key, but meaningful way: sipping warm drinks, watching the snow fall, embracing (and making the best of) a cold climate. Winter is high season for hygge, since cold weather can be isolating.”

The story was a hit. Nearly 200,000 people read “Hygge: The Danish Secret to Getting Through Winter,” thousands shared it and more than 700 people commented about it on Facebook.

Some thought hygge was a bunch of hogwash. But many of you embraced the idea and shared your own strategies for surviving the season. Here’s how you have hygge-d your way through winter. Or didn’t. The important thing is that you made it this far.

Hygge Nesting Instincts

"It helps to be retired. Planning ahead for the bad weather so I have plenty of food, drink and necessary things in the house. Books to read, candles to burn, warm clothing if the lights go out."

"Winter actually is relaxing and a time to 'nest' and enjoy family and home … cook up something spectacular, and invite the neighbors!"

"Buy a new pair of pajamas and wool socks, put them on, relax on the couch and watch a movie with your kids. You'll be hygge-ing."

"I love the concept and try to live that way — being a big fan of hot chocolate and cozy fireplaces helps."

"Winter...perfect weather for weaving!"

A Cozy Ambience

"Candlelight is a must. Vanilla cookies will do. And coffee aroma. Music at low volume. Knitting is always good as is making Christmas paper decorations. No Internet, as that is a lone activity."

"I bake, and there are candles burning (ok, artificial candles) all over my house."

"Candlelight indoors as well as outdoors is an important part of it, as is coffee — for instance with friends and family."

"I don't have a fireplace, but I light a lot of candles and make a lot of great brothy soups!"

A Hygge State of Mind

"You can do the same thing but in the hot weather — swimming, getting inside in the hot afternoon, making salads, having friends in for iced tea. It’s a state of mind. Love it."

"I used to fight winter. I passed my days complaining about the cold and snow. Those days are gone now though. I finally decided this year to appreciate each day. It's worked great! It's probably due to my advancing age and the realization that time is more precious than I gave it credit for when I was younger. Live and learn."

"Think positive, get in line with Mother Nature, smell the roses, seek the best in others. Just love winter and choose to embrace it!"

"Reminds me of mindfulness — living in the moment."

Getting Fresh Air

"Took a hike today on a frozen lake in Three Lakes, Wisc. Sunny & 35, little wind. Skiing, ice fishing and friends who like the same. Loving our winter wonderland."

"My secret is snowboarding."

"I hygge'd today. In the forest."


A Beverage or Two

"In Canada, where winter is similar to Denmark, except colder and more snow, we like to drink rum. A YUGE glass of rum, to get us through the cold winter. Lol"

"Do those nights playing Cards Against Humanity and drinking wine count as hygge?"

"This is why people in Wisconsin frequent bars, for hygge!"

"My hygge also requires glogg." [Editor's note: Glogg is a Scandinavian hot spiced wine punch.]

Great Escapes

"Going to the Wisconsin Dells!!!!"

"I would like to practice hygge in Hawaii."

How Do You Say ‘Hygge?’

"I prefer the Norwegian secret to getting around in winter, called 'skiing.'"

"In my language, it's called 'dog,' and I can't imagine getting though the season without one."

"In Alaska, it's pronounced 'ice cream.'"

Meanwhile, at the Next Avenue offices, we've been trying to perfect our pronunciation of the word by repeatedly watching the following video. It turns out just saying “hygge” is pretty good winter therapy in itself.

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Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy. Read More
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