How I Practice Hygge to Help Me Enjoy German Winters
Did you know there was a way to actually enjoy winter and not fight the cold? This is all about how I practice hygge to help me make peace with . After moving to Germany from the very warm southern part of the United States, I didn’t know how well I would handle the cold and long months of winter in Europe. But I’ve truly learned to love winter in Germany and here’s how I did it!
Practice Hygge & Gemütlichkeit
Coming from a very warm climate (Georgia, USA) to Germany, I was worried I might hate the colder and much darker days of winter here. I set an intention before arriving that, somehow, I was going to learn to love the winter. I didn’t want to spend 4-6 months out of every year wishing the months away for spring. I wanted to enjoy it!
So, I began to learn all about Hygge from the Scandinavians and learned even more about how to love being outside and how to make my home super cozy through the German culture of Gemütlichkeit. Plus, you’ll get some beautiful winter music and cinematic footage to encourage you to get cozy. Learning to enjoy each season is a choice that we can make.
Got the Winter Blues? Try the Scandinavian Practice of Hygge or German Gemütlichkeit
In the months of January and February, it can really feel like winter is dragging on and we long for warm weather and more sunshine. For most, winter is more fun in December when we have the holidays.
So when we had decided to move to Germany and away from the much warmer climate we had in the southern US, in Georgia, I knew I’d need to learn how to love the winter. I didn’t want to live here in Germany and be at odds with an entire season – 4-6 months – every year. I knew if I didn’t change my mindset about winter, that was going to be a possibility. We were moving much farther north on the globe and the days would be much shorter in the winter than I was used to.
Before We Moved to Germany, I Set an Intention to Enjoy Winter
So before we moved, I set an intention that I was going to make the best of the winters and then, as is common with setting intentions, you begin finding solutions. I came upon the Scandanvian concept of Hygge here on YouTube and really fell in love with it.
What is Hygge?
Hygge is typically translated to “cozy” or “pleasant.” It derives from a sixteenth-century Norwegian term, hugga, meaning “to comfort” or “to console,” which is related to the English word “hug.” Associated with relaxation, indulgence, and gratitude, hygge has long been considered a part of the Danish national character. It’s a way of life that you can practice all year round and it means to take pleasure in the simple things. This could include recognising simple moments in each day and making your environment super cozy.
Hygge is commonly practiced in Scandinavian countries, where the winters are long, cold and much darker than even here in Germany. So from them, I’ve been learning how to make my home environment super cozy and warm, which I have found, does help with warding off the winter blues. It helped to change my mindset about winter – from dreading the cold and grey days to thinking of this season as “cozy season.” The season where I have an excuse to be less busy, to wear cozy clothing, and make my home a cozy, winter retreat.
Here are Some Simple Ways I Practice Hygge at Home
1 – Keep a Fire Going & Wear Comfy Clothes
We light a fire in our stove as often as we can. Kevin, my husband, I wear warm, soft sweaters, thick, wool socks and sweatpants while at home.
2 – Afternoon Tea Time
In the afternoons, I’ll pour myself a delicious cup of tea and use my antique porcelain tea set I bought here in Germany. For me, the tea set makes the moment extra special instead of waiting until the weekend or holidays for special moments. Having something special in each day really helps, even if it’s something small like wearing your favorite earrings or hat.
3 – Light Candles & Use Soft Lighting
I also like to light candles and have twinkle lights on when the day is grey outside. It adds that light and sparkle we crave during the darker months.
I like to turn on the lamps in the house as it’s a cozier light than an overhead, incandescent light. I have essential oil diffusers so I love to put in something that smells amazing and enjoy the fragrance before bedtime.
4 – Bake Yummy Desserts
I also like to do more baking – it’s a very warm and cozy thing to do! There’s nothing like filling your home with the aromas of flour, sugar, butter and chocolate. Can I get an amen?!
Another that helps is to keep the clutter down in my home. It helps me to feel less stressed while inside. I have also left a few of my favorite Christmas decorations up as they are cozy and warm. I am very intentional about the decorations in my home, only brining things into the home that I truly love.
5 – Dress Well for the Weather
When I leave the house, I make sure to dress well for the weather, which is something I have learned well from the Germans after moving here. The northern Europeans all have a famous phrase, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” As long as I am warm outside, I can fully enjoy the snow and fresh, cold air, so having warm proper clothing is a must if I’m to be outside.
6 – Get Outside for a Walk
Which is another point on how I practice hygge – I make sure to get outside and take walks. One of our German neighbours gets out for a walk everyday. Sometimes I will pass her on the pathway into town, and she will say with a smile, “Ah, don’t you love this fresh air?” She’s helped me to see that the cold air is fresh and feels so clean.
Being out in the cold helps me to enjoy the weather and not fear it. Part of that is enjoying the snow like my kids do – to see the snow as a playground. To have snowball fights with them, help them build snow forts, go skiing and more. And then we make the moment even more special by coming inside to drink a warm, yummy drink like enjoy hot chocolate, tea or Glühwein.
7 – Take My Cues from Nature
I think we also take our cue from nature. Nature shows us that this time of year is a time to slow down, go within and feel a sense of calm and peace. It’s a time for rest so we can be rejuvenated in the spring. In our very busy, go go go world, this can really be a challenge.
8 – Make Peace with the Cold Instead of Fighting It
So even if your daily schedule can’t change much, you can give yourself permission to practice hygge by finding things that bring you simple pleasures, even when its cold. It will look different for each of us, but it’s a step we can take to make peace with winter. I have been very pleasantly surprised to find I now actually love the winter and cold and am not wishing it away for spring and summer. May we all learn to embrace the things we cannot change, for it helps us to live a more fulfilling life.