Let’s Hygge Together!

David is enjoying some down-home hygge wearing his favorite t-shirt while snuggled on the couch with a stuffed animal.


Such a marvelously serpentine-looking word, isn’t it? Interestingly, it doesn’t sound at all like it looks. It’s pronounced hoo-guh, but I always see “higgy.”  Then I think “jiggy.” Then I think, well, all sorts of athletic bed gymnastics–so let’s not go down that rabbit hole together, shall we? Especially as I’m at my mom’s home helping her get set up, stocked up, and stay safe.

Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word that means “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” It’s about self-care, connecting with loved ones, and dis-connecting from some of those odious, angst-producing elements in our lives. Like the news, for example. Or people who go on Sunday drives during Thursday rush hour, or shockingly long eyebrow hairs, or the color puce.


When I browsed the Internet for examples of hygge, I came across the most gorgeous Nordic people doing gorgeously Nordic things, while lounging on gorgeous Nordic throws, pillow, and blankets. I also noticed that you can’t hygge (can that word be a verb?) without a cup of coffee nearby and a string of lights haphazardly hung behind you.

A model practicing hygge with a dog asleep on a pillow beside her, a book open on her lap, and a cup of coffee and plate of cookies beside her.

But it doesn’t take a booker at the Wilhelmina Agency to know they’re models! All those chiseled jaws, broad shoulders, and pantingly good looks. And that’s just the women. Don’t get me started on the men. They’re all 10s!

A model with a cup of coffee demonstrating hygge.

And that’s why I made this video: I wanted to give you a glimpse of what real-life hygge looks like down here among us 4s to 6s.

That’s me at the top in my favorite T-shirt made by our very talented niece, Megan, who creates all kinds of cool items. If you’re wondering where my triple chin and chipmunk cheeks went, so does The One. Ah, the wonders of Photoshop! If I can’t be a model, at least I can try to look like one. And while there was no white furry four-legger around–and my mom’s cat Charlie would never stand to be held–I grabbed one of the stuffed animals from the menagerie on the living room couch. And to give a truly Scandinavian ambiance to the photo, that’s a 100-percent authentic mid-century Danish modern table behind my head.

Mama Leite, dressed in an ancient workshirt of my late dad’s, has been spending these days as she has for the past several decades–at her computer in the breezeway clacking away at the Prayer Net, which she and my dad created for their church.

Me? Since Sunday, I’ve been living in my very hygge-like shearling slippers, sweats, and “Enjoy Chouriço” shirt. I’m spending my time in the dining room working away on the new computer I bought Mama, which she’s too scared to use right now.

Precisely at 7:00 PM, the computers are put to sleep, and we sit and watch “Wheel of Fortune” then “Jeopardy,” shouting out answers and dissing the contestants who mess up. (Yes, we’re evil and we love it.)

Since Mama Leite has hung up her spatula for good, all she eats is prepared and frozen foods, so there’s no cooking while I’m visiting her. I’ve been happily living on–que surpresa–chouriço sandwiches from Cinderella Bakery in Fall River.


Tomorrow, I return to The One and to another kind of hygge. This one is all about cooking, binge-watching “Hillary,” “Upstairs Downstairs” (the 2010 version), and, Lord help me, reruns of “Antiques Road Show.” The One will continue reading Death in Strange Country while I’ll finally finish Ethan Frome and The Song of Achilles. Devil Cat will burrow into our chests as he’s wont to do.

Tell me: How do you hygge?

In the comments below, tell me what are you making, baking, cooking, doing, playing, enjoying, fighting about? Share ideas, share pictures, share the love!

Let’s see if we can take care of each other, make each other laugh, and enjoy ourselves during this tough time. Remember, hygge!


About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. Hygge requires extra planning during these stay-at-home times. For my Danish Azorean One, that means a special trip to Market Basket a few towns away to stock up on chopped frozen kale & chouriço for his caldo verde. Of course, molasses, ginger, & cardamom are on the list as well. ❤️

    1. Susan and The Azorean One, indeed it does require some planning. But, oh, does it ever feel good! And those cookies are killer!!

  2. David, I’m glad you guys are staying safe and well. This is a grand time to remind people about Hygge! We’re into cozy year-round. And tomorrow’s bread baking will add to the cozy, homey hygge vibe. Easy dinners with on-hand ingredients are filling the bill this week, today Ground Beef and Bean Chili. But before dinner, think I’ll cozy up with the cat and a cup of tea and watch Have Gun Will Travel (it’s good just now to spend part of each day living in the past!).

    1. Thanks, Jean. And your dish looks incredible. Everyone, head on over the DelightfulRepast.com for the recipe!

  3. Today: Chocolate Chip cookies for the Bread Line’s Stone Soup Cafe, which is coping by making bag lunches and letting guests in 10 at a time to get warm, get a cup of coffee, and wash up. Cookies make bag lunches better.

    THEN I’m taking the Rose Levy Bernbaum challenge of Kougin Amin. I can’t see any reason why it should be more difficult than croissants, in fact, it looks simpler and shorter. I’ll let you know.

    Then a walk in the snowy woods before the next 7 inches dumps on us tonight, when we will finish binge-watching Giri/Hajii (Check it out. Amazing)

    Oh, did I say that I am also a vegetarian who is trying, unsuccessfully, to move to vegan.

    1. Jennifer, it sounds like an excellent lineup. Tell us how they turned out. And SEND PICTURES!