How’s Your Hygge?

I refuse to write guilty blog posts. This is not a guilty blog post.

I’m here drinking lemon tea, practicing my Hygge. What is Hygge, you ask? Ahh, but that would be giving away the secret to life-long happiness. (And a self-help blog this does not claim to be.)


But since you brought it up, I shall indulge you. Hygge [hoo-ga] is the Danish custom of intentionally practicing, how shall we say… coziness. It includes lighting candles, donning your favorite woolen stockings, sipping hot drinks, and sharing warm spaces with loved ones. This custom is practiced more as a natural way of life than anything else. (There is nothing inherently rotten about the state of Denmark, but there are polar bears and ice afoot. Little sunlight and biting winds.) The practice of Hygge keeps the Danes calm in the best sense.

Researchers are finding that the intentional practice of Hygge customs leads to the unusually high rates of happiness among our Danish friends. So does consuming large amounts of cheese. Or maybe that’s the Dutch. In any case, I have taken up Hygge.

Here I am with a new candle and a book.


Though I actually spent most of that Hygge trying to get the right angle for my Instagram.

But I gleaned enough of Hawthorne to be very sure that there is, indeed, an eagle above the Custom House.
He also spoke to me as a writer, gently advising me to think before I publish:

“It is scarcely decorous, however, to speak all, even where we speak impersonally.”

Help, Hawthorne. It IS?!

“But—as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience—it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk.”

Did you catch that, my darlings? We are, in fact, only distant friends.

“And then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself, but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil. To this extent and within these limits, an author, methinks, may be autobiographical, without violating either the reader’s rights or his own.”

Tonight my woolen socks are in storage, I’m writing by the light of an incandescent light bulb, and I’m far away from home, but I AM sipping a steaming cup of tea, and I just finished off a piece of butter cake after giggling with my roommates about hilarious English class stories.

Hygge game strong. Very sure the happiness will start kicking in at any moment.


If candles, books, and drinks are not your style, then you might try consuming large amounts of cheese. It has worked for the Dutch. Or maybe cheese just makes them tall. I’m not sure.

Yet, perhaps you suffer from dairy allergy, in which case, I’m sorry, you’ll just have to be miserable for the rest of your life. The only true path to happiness lies in milk products and and a good dose of Danish Hygge.

One lump or two

I microwaved the tea bag, and it came out looking an old-fashioned brown color. You know, that maroonish-brown color that inhabits every surface at your Great Aunt Edna’s house… from the maroonish-brown couch, to the maroonish-brown carpet, to the brownish-maroon wall paneling.

Well, anyway, the tea bag was that color.

I read somewhere once that you shouldn’t microwave your tea water because it takes the oxygen out of it, and your tea tastes flat.

Lemon Zinger it was. I cradled the orange cone-shaped mug like a Californian conch shell and listened to the sparkling fizz of the Lemon Zinger bag.

Next, I pulled out a metal spoon to catch the honey which I was to squeeze in. Now I don’t use the spoon to measure the honey.  Just to catch the honey before it spills into the tea. I generally pour in immeasurable amounts of honey. Now that seems kind of silly.

The tea tasted like Fruit Loops.

That is all.

This has been Your Weekly Etiquette Remark.