Cozying Up the Canadian Way: Embracing Hygge in the Great White North

Cozying Up the Canadian Way: Embracing Hygge in the Great White North

Discovering Hygge in Canada: Amidst the long, cold winters, Canadians are turning to the Danish concept of hygge, creating a warm, cozy atmosphere at home to enhance well-being.

The Danish concept of hygge has become quite popular in recent years as people search for ways to find more comfort, connection, and coziness in their everyday lives. Though hygge originated in Denmark, this Nordic lifestyle trend need not be confined to just Scandinavia. The key elements of hygge – candlelight, warm drinks, soft textures, comforting foods, and meaningful conversations – can help us embrace winter even in the cold Canadian climate.

As the days grow shorter and the snow piles up outside, it might seem easier to just hibernate all winter long. But with some tips and inspiration from Denmark’s famously happy residents, Canadians can learn to not just survive, but thrive and even relish the long winter months. Finding hygge is about making the most of our beautiful frosted landscapes and bringing cozy minimalism inside our homes. Simple rituals like baking on Sundays, regular family game nights, getting out into nature, and then returning to a warm, inviting, uncluttered home can make winter months deeply comforting. 

The focus on togetherness and enjoying the simpler pleasures in life, which lies at the heart of hygge, is a perfect antidote to the darkness and isolation that can come with long northern winters. In this article, we’ll explore the many ways Canadians can embrace hygge and create abundant coziness no matter how much snow piles up outside our doors.

What is Hygge?

Definition of Hygge

Hygge (pronounced hü-gə) is a Danish concept that roughly translates to “coziness” or “comfort.” It embodies the feeling of being content, connected, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Some key elements that create hygge include:

Candlelight and Warm Lighting

The Danish are obsessed with candles and lighting. Soft, warm lighting from candles, strings of lights, and lamps create a magical, cozy glow.

Comfortable Textures and Clothing

Bundling up in big woolen sweaters, and cashmere socks, and wrapping oneself in fuzzy blankets allows one to feel safe and protected. Hygge is linked to the sensation of touching gentle, cozy textures.

Indulgent Food and Drinks

Warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves featured in baked goods, porridge, gløgg (mulled wine) and coffee complement the sweet and savory comfort foods that define hygge.


Hygge is less about spending time alone and more about meaningful conversations that bring people closer together. Playing games, sharing meals, and having intimate gatherings are all very hyggelig.

Creating a Hyggelig Atmosphere

A hyggelig atmosphere is crucial for enjoying moments of hygge. This requires eliminating clutter and distraction, keeping the decor simple, and creating little pockets of joy through thoughtful details.

Use layered rugs and textiles to provide comfort underfoot and sound absorption so conversations can flow gently. Arrange furniture to invite intimacy and closeness rather than corporate stiffness. Good acoustics and visual warmth enhance the pleasantness of the space.

Incorporate natural elements like houseplants, flowers in vases, natural baskets and bowls. Candles of all shapes and sizes should feature prominently. Music or a gently crackling fire can provide soothing background noise. The overall environment should feel safe, protected, familiar, and free from chaos.

Embracing Hygge at Home

Decorating Tips

The first step to cultivating hygge at home is in the decor. Think textures, layers, and materials that nurture our senses.

Pile on the knit throws and wool blankets. Natural fibers feel better against the skin. Furry sheepskins add softness and warmth to chairs and floors. The Danes even use textiles to cover appliance handles, cushions, and furniture edges.

Window treatments should be airy and light-filtering. Display houseplants everywhere to bring nature indoors. Incorporate natural baskets, ceramics and pottery for storage.

Candleholders come in an endless variety, from giant floor candelabras to tiny tea lights. Place candles freely on tables, mantels, and windowsills. Mirrors also beautifully reflect flickering flames to amplify coziness.

Create special reading nooks with a comfy chair or loveseat, a floor lamp, throw blanket and side table for tea. Add a floor pillow and sheepskin for kids’ reading spaces. Reduce clutter so these pockets feel like retreats. 

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially in winter. Emulate the Scandinavian style of practical minimalism – think clean lines, light woods, utilitarian pieces. This allows you to truly focus on cooking, baking, and conversation with loved ones.

Fill the house with smells like cinnamon rolls, banana bread, chili, potato soup, roast chicken, mulled wine, and freshly brewed coffee. Hearty grains like barley, farro, and rye add comforting bites to stews and salads.

Keep a hyggekrog (“cozy nook”) stocked with candles, napkins, tea bags, honey, and wine glasses so you can instantly create an intimate table setting for two. Add some jazz, folk, or choral music, and the conversation flows smoothly.


Instead of flashy dinner parties, aim for casual, comforting gatherings centered on food, family and connection. Potlucks allow everyone to contribute cozy dishes like shepherd’s pie, mac and cheese, stew. Fried chicken and pizza nights strengthen bonds without effort. 

Plan regular game nights and movie nights incorporating favorite hygge foods like popcorn, hot chocolate, and freshly baked treats. Simple traditions reinforce comfort and familiarity with loved ones.

The Scandinavian concept of Fredagsmys means making Friday evenings extra cozy to mark the end of the work week. Fredagsmys typically includes comfort food like pizza or fish and chips, candy or baked goods, and drinks like beer, wine or hot toddies – all enjoyed by candlelight or firelight.

Hygge All Year Round

Enjoying Hygge in Winter

Canadians know how to embrace winter with vigor through iconic activities. Hygge then means bundling up properly to fully immerse yourself. 

Snowshoeing allows you to journey into snow-cloaked forests and experience heavenly tranquility. Stop to sip thermoses filled with hot cocoa or spiked cider.

Ice skating alongside friends or family blends fresh air and rosy cheeks with laughter and warmth. Come off the rink for steamy mugs of jo, the Norwegian cream-based hot chocolate. 

Sledding, tobogganing, and tubing paired with wool socks, mittens, scarves and a thermos of gløgg (mulled wine) practically define Nordic hygge. Bonus points for warming up afterward by a crackling fire.

Hygge Year Round

While hygge peaks in winter, you can cultivate its essence all year long by embracing the seasons with cozy mindfulness.


Welcome rebirth and rejuvenation by opening windows to let in FRESH floral scents and bird song. Enjoy the LUXURY of reading outdoors tucked under a tree. Embrace slow living through gardening, long TEAS on the porch, and creek-side picnics. 


Outdoor hygge means HARVESTING fruits and vegetables for fresh salads and picnic baskets overflowing with farm-to-table POTLUCK dishes to share lake-side or in meadows. Create CAMPFIRE camaraderie through tall tales, s’mores and bedtime teas.


Fall radiates in vibrant colors, and cool air makes CRISP walks through crunchy leaves perfectly hyggelig with a trusty thermos. The smells of slow cooked CHILI, roasted squash SOUPS and just-baked BREAD draw us home as evenings grow darker and cooler.

Holidays and Celebrations

The Danish ritual of Julehygge captures the essence of Christmas coziness. Follow it yourself with gingerbread cookies, ornament crafting parties, and mulled gløgg during gift wrapping. New Year’s hygge means bonfires, fireworks, and toasting hot toddies.

Thanksgiving and harvest festivals celebrate hygge through connection, gratitude, and comfort foods. Birthdays mean decadent cakes enjoyed fireside. Even funerals provide community support.

Any occasion can be enhanced by focusing its true meaning and intent through the lens of hygge.

Overcoming Challenges

Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder with Hygge

The shorter, darker days of winter can exacerbate mood disorders like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Symptoms include low energy, anxiety, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns. 

Embracing hygge is a proactive way to combat SAD. Candles recreate sunlight missing in winter. Cozy spaces provide feelings of safety and escape. Comfort foods boost serotonin. Shared laughter releases endorphins.

Getting outdoors during daylight is equally vital — even just a daily 20-minute walk or some yardwork to soak up sun, move the body, and clear the mind.

Be vigilant about hygge overindulgences too. While cozy pleasures in moderation are healthy antidotes, avoid vegging out all season, bingeing junk food and oversleeping.

Balance and Self-Care

While the Danes are masters at perfecting domestic cosiness in winter, Canadians shouldn’t just hibernate indoors for months either. Balance hygge with activities that provide physical exhilaration like skating, tobogganing and snowshoeing. Keep moving outdoors regularly.

Don’t become hostage to creating magazine-worthy Pinterest hygge. Focus instead on simple rituals that spark joy, not pressure. Savor preparing comfort foods but avoid overindulging or unrealistic expectations.

Remain connected to community and service throughout winter to prevent insularity. Embrace hygge as self-care, not escape. Use it to refuel your ability to show up more energized for all the various facets of life.


As the short days and frigid temperatures of Canadian winters set in, the Danish philosophy of hygge provides invaluable inspiration for thriving with warmth, candlelight and conviviality until spring.

This winter, nurture your soul by filling your home with fuzzy textures, nourishing foods and meaningful gatherings by firelight. Prioritize simple joys over chaotic busyness. Unplug often to just be present with loved ones. Leave room for spontaneity in between obligations. 

Connect more with your community this season too. Embrace the frosty wonderland in your own backyard before hibernating. Seek out local events, businesses and volunteer activities that align with hygge principles of togetherness and coziness.

While tips can help evoke hygge, don’t let arbitrary rules overwhelm its essence. Make hygge your own based on what uplifts your spirit. Savour nostalgic flavors that spark happy memories. Invite beloved friends who make you feel understood. Display heirloom items that remind you of comforting traditions.

As the flakes continue falling outside, may your winter be filled with candlelit joy radiating an abundance of comfort, connection and contentment until spring.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Isn’t hygge just an indoor, wintertime phenomenon?

While hygge is closely associated with winter coziness in Nordic countries, its concepts can be embraced year-round, even outdoors. Summer picnics, autumn bonfires, and spring pampering sessions can all certainly be infused with hygge if the focus is on togetherness, indulgence and escaping stress.

2. I live in a small apartment – can I still create a hyggelig home?

Absolutely! Hygge is more about creating pockets of warmth, comfort and candlelight rather than having a large home. Clear clutter, add soft textures, prepare comforting foods, play acoustic music, and gather around the kitchen table or a living room corner nook to connect with loved ones.

3. Don’t I need to spend a lot on décor to achieve hygge?

Not at all. In fact, hygge avoids flashy excess. Focus instead on details like plush pillows, warm oven mitts, fresh flowers, ceramic mugs, and affordable second-hand store finds for that well-loved feel. DIY projects also embody hygge’s heartfelt homemade spirit.

4. As an introvert, does hygge pressure me to entertain constantly?

Hygge can be enjoyed solo as much as in groups. Relish calm mornings reading by candlelight, crafting projects in a cozy armchair, writing in a coffee shop, or taking meditative winter walks. Hygge is about nourishing your senses and soul, whether alone or sharing casual, low-key gatherings.

5. Don’t Canadians celebrate hygge already with cabin trips and maple treats?

Absolutely, embracing the feeling of a crackling fireplace after playing in snow or indulging in decadent, nostalgic Maple syrup sweets captures hygge beautifully. Canadians often intuitively create hyggelig moments. Learning Nordic lifestyle principles simply helps articulate, enhance and organize our coziness.

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