What the Hygge?


Recently I had the privilege of being asked to co-host a meet-up for SXSW on Hygge.  If you’ve ever heard about the Danish idea of Hygge (HOO-gah) you might wonder what a girl who lives in Austin, Texas  could possibly know about it.  Everyone is talking about this concept these days and trying to add a little hygge to their lifestyle. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/24/books/review/hygge-is-where-the-heart-is.html?_r=0

A quick search on Amazon reveals a number of new books coming out on the concept.  So what the hygge is it???  There isn’t an exact translation, but comfort, coziness, joy and simplicity are all encompassed in this notion that the Danes find so central to their way of life.   I mean, what else can you do when it’s dark and frozen outside but light an assload of candles and a roaring fire and bake some ridiculously indulgent pastries?   So, the Danes are said to be the happiest people on earth, but yet they contend with months of cold, dark, damp weather that would send many of us Austinites into a deep seasonal depression.  What do they know that we don’t?  And how can we bring a little bit of hygge into our lives?  I mean we have the opposite problem, right?  For most of the summer you can’t even go outdoors unless you are submerged in a cold body of water and/or are doused with mosquito spray.


Finding time to slow down, relax, and appreciate the simple moments and rituals that make life worth living is what hygge is all about.  And it has never been more important than in this modern age of technology and social media.  We never have a very severe winter around these parts, but this year it was even shorter and milder than usual.  February, which is usually our crappiest month weather-wise, has been beautiful and warm like those coveted spring days when all you want to do is be outside every second.  So, it may not be time for fuzzy socks and hot cocoa, but I promise we can still get our hygge on. I like to think I can find happiness in the simple things.   Like, when I’m driving around with the kids and they both fall asleep and I can roll the windows down, feel the sun on my face, blast some Mazzy Star, PM Dawn, or Cat Power on my Spotify and drive through the coffee drive- in for my perfectly mixed decaf iced soy latté. Yes, this is what my mommy dreams are made of.

My friend Brita, who will be leading the SXSW hygge meetup this year and who, being from Michigan, is a hygge expert, told me about her family’s summertime hygge ritual now that she is in Austin.  They like to have a day when no one is allowed to leave the house, fill up the baby pool in the backyard, bust out the rosé and just have a comfortable, relaxing, family time.  Technology is not allowed.  They put away the cell phones and the ipads and bust out the record player and the vinyl.   It’s an appreciation for ritualism.   I think it’s really about what makes you happy and able to forget about life’s troubles.  My sister is also really, really good at the hygge although she doesn’t know it.  Whenever she has us over, it’s not about an elaborate meal, but she always has the mood set perfectly.  Candles, lights, comfy seating areas, and there is always a tasty snack, making her guests feel warm and welcome.  We’re just there to enjoy each other’s company.

IMG_2403(Sister’s house, complete with pomegranate mimosas.  Simple. Cozy. Very hygge.)


Maybe if we ever have winter again in the southern United States I can bust out my knit socks and my cinnamon rolls with some hot cocoa.  But for now,  maybe I’ll just throw down a picnic blanket, shake up a batch of margaritas, stick my feet in the grass and enjoy this Texas girl’s hygge life.


Me and the kiddos getting our hygge on.  Believe it or not sometimes it does actually drop below 100 degrees here.


IMG_2239IMG_2157IMG_1944IMG_0925 (1)

Danish Hygge:                                                                                         Austin Hygge:

roaring fire                                                                                               outdoor fans

warm blankets                                                                                        soft beach towels

close friends or family                                                                        close friends or family

hot cocoa/coffee/tea                                                                          iced tea/rose/margaritas

fresh baked goods/pastries                                                            guacamole& queso /grilling out

fuzzy socks                                                                                                bare feet

candles                                                                                                        outdoor string lights


How do you Hygge?  Let me know in the comments.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jody Miller says:

    Way to go Jessica!

  2. Sam says:

    Great post and have fun next week!!!!

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