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Sophie Kaufmann: Cozy up to the concept of 'hygge'

It is a state of mindfulness. It is turning a mundane life into a life of gratitude, warmth, and beauty.

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Sophia Kaufmann Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“Hygge” is a Danish term that has no direct translation in English, but the main idea of hygge is coziness and comfort.

The term comes from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort.” Emphasizing thankfulness, coziness, tranquility, and home, hygge has been a part of Danish culture for a long time. Hygge can be used as a noun, verb, or an adjective and is put into practice, traditionally, in Scandinavian and Nordic countries by creating a comforting, consoling, and cozy atmosphere inside homes, especially during the harsh winter.

The purpose of hygge is to increase feelings of contentment and warmth. Here in Minnesota, like in Scandinavia, the days are short and the snow is deep. Contentment and warmth can be hard to maintain, so perhaps the concept of “hygge” might be beneficial for us, too.

In the past few years, hygge has made its way to the United States. Writers, home designers, and lifestyle journalists publish articles and even entire books to encourage Americans to adapt the concept of hygge into their own lives and homes. Meanwhile, retailers selling everything from cocoa to couches try to capitalize on hygge as consumers buy in.

Certainly, some of these goods can contribute to hygge. As the holiday season approaches, it is simple to incorporate hygge into our homes. Stockings above the hearth, festive cookies, a cozy fire, warm sweaters, welcoming wreaths on doors, sparkling Christmas lights, and other general holiday decorations such as snow globes and candles all contribute to the warmth and welcome that is hygge.

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But it is important to remember that hygge is created, not bought. Some might believe that hygge is about how much money you have to buy holiday decorations or how much time you have on your hands to enjoy hygge moments such as watching a movie in bed. This is why when you look up synonyms for hygge, you might find results such as “exclusive” and “expensive.”

However, hygge is more than the items or activities that can contribute to hygge. Instead, hygge is a state of mindfulness. It is turning a mundane life into a life of gratitude, warmth, and beauty. Hygge is helped by decorations, objects, and food, but contentment and community are at the heart of hygge. These cannot be bought.

When it is time for the Christmas trees to come down, and we face the seemingly daunting duration of winter ahead, we can still continue hygge. A warm cup of cocoa, a visit to a coffee shop, wool socks, warm oatmeal, or even reading a book at home with a pile of blankets and a cup of comforting tea can create the soothing simplicity that is hygge.

Most importantly, we must remember that a key aspect of hygge is community. Though it is certainly possible to create hygge alone, the true meaning of hygge is to share joyful moments with loved ones. So, don’t forget to invite a friend along to the coffee shop or join a family member in a shared time of reading. The comfort found in community is the ultimate hygge.

As Minnesotans, we think it admirable to endure the cold bravely, but the cold is best endured when it is answered by warmth. Join with me this holiday season and beyond as I embrace the Danish concept of hygge. Light a candle. Grab a cup of tea. Make a pot of soup to share with friends. Comfortable, cozy community; yes, I like winter the Danish way.

Sophie Kaufmann is a senior at Mayo High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters, jpieters@postbulletin.com.

Related Topics: PEOPLETEEN COLUMNS
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