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Get Cozy and Comfortable This Winter–Scandinavian-Style

Now that the holiday season is behind us and the decorations are packed away, many of us are looking for ways to extend the warmth and comfort of those cozy December days.

And who better to consult than the Scandinavians, who spend four months of every year coping with the cold temperatures and minimal daylight that are an inescapable feature of their place on the globe. Among these northerly neighbors, perhaps no country on Earth more successfully mitigates the effects of January’s chill and isolation than Denmark, where coziness is raised to an art form. The Danes have a term for this practice—hygge, which is pronounced hoo-gah and serves as both a noun and verb. And it must be effective because Denmark is widely regarded as one of the happiest nations in the world.

To the Danes, hygge not only refers to creature comforts, but also the ability to enjoy the good things in life, whether with family, friends or by yourself. Danes hygge by cozying up in front of the fire with a good book, enjoying board games, sharing a meal, meeting for beverages, or taking a frosty walk through the woods. The key is to embrace the winter season, not seek to escape it.

By creating a sense of simplicity, comfort, warmth and well-being, the long winter months became an opportunity for satisfaction instead of a gloomy period to be endured, as many Americans view it. By making winter special, it can be as enjoyable and rewarding as summer, spring and fall.

How to achieve hygge in your life? In recent years, the market has been flooded with books and products aimed at helping Americans achieve not only hygge, but also other Scandinavian traditions of a similar bent, including the Swedish mys and Norwegian koselig. Here are a few suggestions for upping the coziness factor of your apartment and making this winter the most comfortable ever.

Let there be light—Nothing dispels the winter gloom like light, but creating a cozy atmosphere involves choosing the right kind. Candles—traditional or flameless—deliver the perfect hygge glow. Twinkling fairy lights are another good option, so feel free to repurpose your Christmas tree lights.

Enjoy solitary pursuits—Is there anything better than curling up with a good book or snuggling on the couch to watch a favorite old movie? These are perfect ways to while away an afternoon or evening—or several. And don’t forget the popcorn or chocolate.

Get comfortable—Hygge is all about the warmth of a soft, thick throw blanket, a toasty pair of socks or a cashmere shawl. If they are fur or fur-lined, so much the better.

Hot beverages—Whether coffee, tea, hot chocolate or mulled wine, a flavorful hot beverage is a sure way to warm up on a chilly morning or relax while watching the snowflakes fall.

Comfort food—Monarch Landing offers a range of warming and nourishing menu options that are as hyggeligt—hygge-like—as they are delicious. Think homemade soup, shepherd’s pie, stew, au gratin potatoes or a more Scandinavian option such as Swedish meatballs, salmon or rice pudding.

Baked goods—If you get a chance to enjoy a Swedish cinnamon bun or serving of Danish aebleskiver (pancake balls) with your morning coffee, take it.

Bundle up—Nature beckons, even in the winter. The Norwegians call it friluftsliv—life outside—and even a brief stroll in the fresh air can be invigorating. Enjoy the outdoor paths at Monarch Landing, which are kept clear and safe for walkers, even in the winter.

Nurture your connections—COVID-19 has put strict limits on face-to-face contacts with others, but hygge encourages maintaining those ties, whether by writing notes, speaking on the phone or connecting via the computer. And if you’re feeling isolated despite these efforts, hygge can help.

Hygge is also an attitude—By putting the emphasis on gratitude, hygge offers a respite in a period beset by social distancing and lockdowns. Getting comfortable and reflecting on the satisfaction of lifelong friendships, enjoying the peace of solitude and basking in the warmth of fond memories can brighten the long winter.

At Monarch Landing, our goal is always to bring out the best of every season, and winter is no exception. If you’re looking for the cozy warmth of hygge, you’ll find it here—on the menu, in our residential accommodations and gathering spaces, and throughout our landscaped grounds. So, pull up a chair and get comfortable!