Temperatures have dropped. At least, I can buy a “fall drink” from Starbucks and Netflix has released its holiday lineup, so it’s hygge time. Bring me a blanket, fuzzy socks, a candle, and a book, because this bitch is done.
Hygge comes, like climate activism and working socialized health care, from Scandinavia. It’s a concept sort of about “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people,” explains Visit Denmark. Think candles. Lots and lots and lots of candles. Blankets. Scarves. Warm socks. Comfort foot enjoyed with people you love. Books read under blankets by candlelight while wearing warm socks, drinking warm drinks, and snarfing warm food.
Did I mention candles? You need a lot of candles to have proper hygge time. Now is the time for all and sundry genders break into their hoarded candle stashes and bask in the glow of dancing firelight while thinking, “Vanilla goes with cookie dough and pumpkin spice and gingerbread, but do they really play well with apple pie?”
But such thoughts are not hygge. Hygge is not stressing if your apple pie candle plays well with your cookie dough candle because you are too wrapped up in Ikea’s latest fuzzy blanket made of pure muppet fur. Many muppets died to bring you that fur, and you must contemplate those muppets, thinking, “They led a good, productive life on some cut-rate Sesame Street, and now they live on in my delightful fuzzy blanket of many hues and above-average warmth.” Be wistful and happy. Snuggle deeper. Possibly contemplate the letter “B.” The muppets would want that.
Did that paragraph wander a little far off the rails? Too bad! That’s hygge time: the state of being wonderfully, gloriously unproductive. It’s having shower thoughts when you’re not in the shower. Cuddle under your muppet fur and think deep thoughts in your dancing pumpkin spice candlelight.
Dress Like It’s Hygge Time
Dressing hygge has become much more normal in these Times of Covid ™. Think your Zoom mullet (business up top, party on the bottom), but without the business. Wear leggings. Wear sweatpants. Throw on some waffle-weave or flannel. Find your warmest socks. The best of all hygge socks are wool, and woven, and come from sheep on Ireland’s Aran Islands. Fight me. However, regular fuzzy socks are almost, almost as good. Promise.
Then recall that you are not Autumn Man™. You do not wear tight-ass sweatshirts designed to show off your pecs. This is not part of hygge time. Sweatshirts become more hygge in direct proportion to their oversizedness, softness, and age. So — and this is key — steal an oversized sweatshirt. If you’re not stealing, it’s not hygge.
And people with lady parts: during hygge time, bras are optional.
Hygge time means doing things you love with people you love. Me? Hygge is a cup of coffee under a fuzzy blanket while I tear through Naomi Novik’s “The Last Graduate” or just re-read “Piranesi.” Ideally, my husband will also drink coffee under his own fuzzy blanket and dig into some Joe Abercrombie. Or he’ll probably bumble up some reason to re-read “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.”
Hygge means time to read interrupted.
Don’t feel like reading? Take that fuzzy blanket into the den and flip on your streaming service of choice. Binge-watch your fav TV show for like, the fifth time (The X-Files? Battlestar Galactica? The Office? The West Wing? Dancing with the Stars? My Super Sweet Sixteen? If you picked the last, I’m coming to your house). Drink your coffee and maybe snarf some pastries. Good pastries, too. Don’t go all Dunkin Donuts; if you’re in one of those lovely lands of overlap, spring for Krispy Kreme.
Hygge time bonuses include snuggling with an animal of your choice. Could be a cat. Could be a dog. Could be a tortoise or hey, it’s that time of year, could be your familiar. Whatever. Animal cuddles. Just don’t spill the goldfish water and don’t let your cat fuck with your candles.
But hygge means doing things together. Comfy-cozy togetherness. Board games are particularly hygge: anything from Monopoly to backgammon, Superfight to checkers. Read to your kids, and pick something you like, none of that “Captain Underpants” stuff. Declaim poetry while wrapped in a muppet-fur blanket. Pick up The Hobbit. Lean into Ramona the Great.
Cuddle all your children on the couch with blankets and snacks. Turn on Hamilton. Sing by candlelight. Is that hygge enough for you? But don’t wear matching socks. Then you’re starting to Karen this hygge thing.
Hygge Time Is Happy Time
In the end, hygge time is a barrier against winter’s cold dark. It’s about getting together with those you love and staying warm. Mulled wine. Apple tart. Lots of pillows and quiet laughter. Your couch should be cozy and your coffee (or tea, if you’re that kind of freak) hot. Your candlelight should dance and perhaps smell like vanilla or cookies. Hell, maybe you should bake some cookies, just so you can take them out of the oven and eat them when they’re all melty-gooey and not quite done. You can’t buy warm, half-baked sugar cookies.
Stay warm. Stay cozy. We have entered the hygge time. May your time stay unproductive, and may your feet stay warm.
This article was originally published on