If you haven’t been hibernating for the past few years, then you’ve probably heard of hygge, the Danish notion of coziness which has now become a lifestyle, with books, stores, and brands. (Etymologically, it’s related to the Dutch word heugen, which means to remember.) According to Meik Wiking in The Little Book of Hygge, it’s has been called “everything from the ‘the art of creating intimacy,’ ‘coziness of the soul,’ and ‘the absence of annoyance,’ to ‘taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things,’ ‘cozy togetherness’ and my personal fave, ‘cocoa by candlelight.'”
We in the States have adopted this word because in the U.S. — where popular fast food chains, florescent-lit big-box stores, and pastimes like NASCAR and WWF are diametrically opposed to warm, cozy goodness — no equivalent term exists. Hygge may have caught on here because it’s short and fairly easy to remember, but there are actually plenty of other European terms that convey this feeling of warmth, charm and flattering low light. The German word Gemütlichkeit and the Yiddish word heimishe both imply coziness and comfort. The Norwegian word for it is koselig and the Dutch word is gezelligheid.
According to a Fast Company article, Norway’s koselig is “like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets.” And according to recent research by a Stanford PhD student, koselig is how Norwegians make it through the period from late November to late January, when the sun never makes it above the horizon. Instead of bemoaning the season and succumbing to Seasonal Affective Disorder, Norwegians make the most of the cold and the dark.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Holland’s gezelligheid:
A Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness that gives a warm feeling.
The only common trait to all descriptions of gezelligheid is a rather general and abstract sensation of individual well-being that one typically shares with others. All descriptions involve a positive atmosphere, flow or vibe that colors the individual personal experience in a favorable way and in one way or another corresponds to social contexts.
As this is a very vague and abstract notion, the word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture.
So how can you get koselig in the cold or hygge in a snowstorm with your snuggle bunny? Below are five ways to keep it cozy as a couple; if you missed cuffing season and ended up single for the winter months, check out our advice on how to get hygge solo.
1. Do the C.A.T. Under the Covers
Reverse Cowgirl position leaves too many body parts exposed; instead, take advantage of your partner’s body heat and work on the Coital Alignment Technique, which is kind of like missionary position except with an extra-large dose of body contact. Here’s your step-by-step guide.
2. Go Sledding Together
And we don’t mean a sedate, grandmotherly slope. Find the steepest, baddest hill you can — the one where all the local high school kids go to sled — and be brave. The adrenaline rush will keep you warm and also jump-start a possibly sluggish winter libido (novelty and fear encourage bonding). Bonus points if you share a sled and hold on tight to each other.
3. Binge on The Bridge Together
And we don’t mean the crappy American version, which will just make you want to fly to Mexico for some sunshine. No, we mean the original Danish version, on Hulu (free if you don’t mind the ads). The suspense will give you an excuse to cuddle, and you’ll be reminded how stylish winter can be in the Nordic countries.
4. Make Cassoulet for Two
This traditional French dish, made in a Dutch oven, will make your entire house smell divine and cozy. Serve it with a hearty red wine and a crusty baguette, and, hey presto, it’s a winter date night. Here’s a great recipe. For vegetarians, make a gourmet mac-n-cheese instead. After dinner, warm up with a Hot Toddy cocktail — or, if hot drinks aren’t your thing, try a Penicillin, which is an incredibly delicious chilled version (plus all that ginger in the Penicillin is good for what ails you!).
5. Get Matching Robes
Wearing matching sweaters in public is kind of weird and may cause teenagers to throw rock-hard snowballs at you. But wearing matching robes in the privacy of your own home? We won’t tell if you won’t. Stay naked underneath your robes so you can tease each other with flashes of skin while reading the New York Times in front of a roaring fire. We like the hooded sweatshirt-style robes by L.L. Bean — for him and for her.