Hygge as Practiced in Minnesota

Hygge: it’s been everywhere the past few years. Around here, coffeehouses and restaurants are ranked according to how well they offer up hygge, and anything cozy (socks, tea, blankets, pajamas, stew recipes) gets placed in the hygge category. But today, as the temperatures here in Minnesota are seriously below zero (it is -17 as I write this; Wednesday’s high is predicted to be -16 and mail delivery has been suspended due to extreme cold), it seems like a lovely idea to practice a little hygge right here at home, where it belongs. It’s the perfect weather to brew some tea, light the fireplace and let the dog sleep in front of it. Do my own work in front of that fireplace, a little jazz on the radio. (Minneapolis has a fabulous public jazz station.) Last week, I wrote about how I like winter, so now, when it’s really showing its teeth, I will not complain. I will turn my attention to how to be cozy.

My winter office

Of course, I am very, very lucky. I am not an essential employee who has to venture out no matter what the outdoor conditions might be. I am not homeless. My furnace works. My windows do not leak. I own a really warm coat. My friend Luann, who is a nurse, is someone who braves the cold to care for people who end up in the hospital; she is on the job this week as Minnesota – and the rest of the Midwest, come to think of it – replicates Antarctica. And my daughter Abby, who works with infants at a local KinderCare, has to show up no matter what.

Living in this kind of climate, experiencing the swift changes in weather, the seasonal temperature swings, and the occasional challenges that presents, has deeply shaped who I am. Winter, for all its ferocity, its icy walkways and bitter winds, heavy snow that is sometimes backbreaking to clear out of the way, has always been the season that has offered me the most opportunity to practice gratitude, to look within, to dig into my writing work with renewed focus. Winter is when I cook new recipes at the end of the day – my preferred method of stress relief, and consider all the ways to feed people other than myself. I can’t remember the last time I thought of winter as a season to dread, even today when it is bitterly, dangerously cold.

Every season offers it challenges. Winter, because of its ability to freeze people and pipes beyond their breaking points, and its direct affront to any ease of outdoor movement, challenges us more than other seasons. And in that challenge, there is an opportunity for creativity.

So, light a candle. See what’s in the refrigerator that can be corralled into something for dinner. Open a book. Wear your thickest wool socks. This chilly discomfort is all temporary.


  1. I was just watching the KARE 11 report on hygge. The Dutch have the word gezellig. It really means enjoying the cozy moment but is also not really translated into English.
    I love your winter office! Looks like the perfect place to sit and write in that cold weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My “winter office” is convenient – the dog hates my usual writing office! She pesters me there if she’s bored, trying to get me to take her elsewhere, and this week, with the extreme cold, this dog is very, very bored. I don’t mind the change of place, though. Writing in front of a fireplace? What a privilege.

      Nice to know the Dutch word for the cozy moment. Gezellig. Thanks for sharing that. Have you found that living in the Netherlands has changed your own habits of how to incorporate coziness or appreciation in your daily life?


      1. I think my pace is slower here than when I was living in MN. I don’t rush as much, I spend more quality time with people. The key here is when you visit someone the TV is never on, making people focus on the company and not distracted.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely. Not so cold here in California, but I love my cozy mornings too in the winter. I turn on the gas fireplace in the bedroom, fix a hot cup of coffee, and snuggle back in bed to read and write. My brother lives in Minnesota. He just got back from a trip to Cost Rica. I’ll have to call him today and see how he is handling this extreme cold after his visit to the rain forests. Hygge and gezellig–new words to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like winter because I don’t feel guilty being inside writing when in summer there is so much to do to distract from writing. Besides, winter is prime knitting/weaving weather. An alpaca hat? Don’t mind if I do (knit).

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  4. it is not proving possible to post comments – not sure why 😦 I just got a note from google that they wont be running google + anymore so that is going to limit me further. My IT use is already minimal so I’m almost like – just give up. Anyhow – I enjoyed reading your post – as always – hope I can get reconnected. I posted this as a cheer up for my friends Snail Love A xx

    On Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 8:02 AM ONE MINNESOTA WRITER wrote:

    > Kathleen Cassen Mickelson posted: ” Hygge: it’s been everywhere the past > few years. Around here, coffeehouses and restaurants are ranked according > to how well they offer up hygge, and anything cozy (socks, tea, blankets, > pajamas, stew recipes) gets placed in the hygge category. But today, ” >


    1. Hi Amanda –
      Thank you so much for sharing my post. I got the notice from Google about Google+, too, just when I resumed using it to try to comment on Brown Girl Outside the Ring. Oh well! Maybe you should come on over to WordPress – I really like using this platform. We need your voice in the world.


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