As a first-hand witness to living through a Northern European winter, I have heard whispers of a cozy concept from our even more northern neighbors in Denmark: hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”).
These European winters are no joke, so hearing about people making the best of the harsh conditions piqued my interest.
Strangely enough, soon after I returned back to the US from Berlin, I heard about “hygge” again from a totally different direction; a message from Oliver Charles’ very own Slater while chatting about #sweaterstuff. He explained so eloquently,
“Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word for the mood of coziness, comfort, and contentment.
We don't have this concept in the US, but it's central to Scandinavian culture, where some of the earlist roots of sweater history are found.
As a brand, hygge embodies how we want people to feel while wearing an Oliver Charles sweater.”
For a moment, I thought Slater might be pulling my leg… coziness, comfort, and contentment... that's a lot of alliteration, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and learned a some things I think you'll find interesting. Let’s dig in...
Hygge actually comes from old Norwegian and originally meant something like “well-being.”
The Danes picked it up in the 18th century and ran with it–or cozied up to it you could say.
There’s a whole list of historical developments on Wikipedia, but I love the theory that hygge may have origins in the Old Norse word hugr or hug.
I like the idea of Hygge decribed as living life in the state of a constant hug.
What Is Hygge?
Hygge had a bit of a resurgence in the 21st century after several books came out describing the Scandinavian lifestyle (and their high levels of societal happiness).
While having a resurgence, hygge originated years back as a simple way to describe a situation.
For example: sitting in front of a crackling fire reading books, that’s so hygge.
You and some friends randomly find yourselves unable to leave the dinner table because the conversation just keeps getting better and better; Hygge!
Hygge is a term that you can interchangeably use with “cozy.”
Pull on your ‘ol reliable Oliver Charles sweater... it's easy to pick out, wear, and it's remarkably comfortable; oh yeah... that's got hygge written all over it.
What Does a Hygge Lifestyle Look Like?
From design to school to government, the Danes like to keep things simple.
They trust each other and their leaders, feeling their community’s success belongs to them also.
They focus on high quality items that emphasize minimalism - items that do their job well, whether it be a couch or a sweater.
Hygge-society is concerned with being close with friends and family, keeping life simple, and recognizing the community and kinship of both strangers and loved ones.
Hygge calls for people to invest more into what really matters for health and happiness. It calls for us to declutter our bad habits and our closets (see a very hygge post from Lia about capsule wardrobes for inspiration).
Oliver Charles Sweaters Are Hygge!
There’s lots of things you can do to bring some Hygge into your daily life in small ways.
It’s a bit silly, but next time you watch a movie or eat dinner with netflix on, take the extra minute and improve the ambience by lighting a candle.
Speaking of meals, eating together plays a central role in hygge; invite your friends over and cook a meal together or share an afternoon coffee.
If you live with roommates make one meal a week a “family” meal that you alternate responsibility for.
Bonding over food and conversation is one of the most fundamental parts of being a human being; and we can all make the effort to do it a bit more!
The common thread in these little habits is that you are taking a second to notice the moment and what a privilege it is to take part in it.
Go through your closet and garage; get rid of some stuff and realize how much you really need (or don’t need).
Take Oliver Charles as an example, they’ve made it their mission to convince people that the right item (in this case a sweater) can have an outsized impact on a person’s life.
A sweater that can be used for weekend adventures, hectic workweeks, and easy sundays, encourages a simple closet and a more simple life.
How many pieces in your closet could actually be one item?
Don’t take my word for it, check out all. these. people. doing the 1-Week Sweater Challenge and realizing how simple life can be.
How Do I Practice Hygge In My Life?
Cosmetics and aesthetics only covers the easy part of hygge. The most important way to realize a hygge lifestyle is to be mindful of the way you prioritize things in life.
To really get the most out of hygge, a person must commit to the idea that investing in their community is the same as investing in themselves.
A hygge life takes time to appreciate the little things that bring happiness.
Consider what you're prioritizing to find out what hygge means for you.
Focus on dedicating resources to those hygge people, things, and habits.
Have you made enough time for having meals with people you care about?
Do you feel ownership of your neighborhood and work to make it better?
Are you investing your time equitably between temporary relationships like those at work and lifelong relationships like partners and friends?
Are your possessions distractions or facilitators to a fulfilling life? Hygge means striving for both personal and social harmony.
Hygge encourages us to set aside the daily grind, anxieties and messiness of modern life and take a moment to be present.
I encourage you to practice hygge. The best way to do that is to recognize who and what brings hygge into your life, be thankful for it while it’s happening, and then actively make it happen more often.
Oh, and, it doesn’t hurt to start by wearing a cozy sweater.
Sam Canino is a storyteller, a mediocre guitar player, an enthusiastic brainstormer, and a below average surfer. Sam looks forward to chatting with taxi drivers and elected representatives and everyone in between. He cares deeply that people feel seen and that we take care of our world. Sam believes in us and in himself. "I have a voice and a pen and I am going to use them".