The Hygge Life, a book review


Hello lovely friends,

My family put away our Christmas decorations yesterday, on St Knut's Day.  A day we have been celebrating for about five years.

Our tradition was to keep the tree up until the weekend after New Years Day until a Swedish runner and her family moved in next door.  She introduced me to modern Swedish traditions celebrated in her childhood home. This aspect of our friendship has shaken up the old world traditions that my family observed.  A welcome shake.

Nordic is a region but the people believe in a blend of Viking customs and Christianity. For Swede's, Lagom the daily practice. For the Dane's, Hygge.  Hygge is having its moment!  When asked to review THE HYGGE LIFE, and flipping through the pages, I knew I wanted to read it.  My lifelong passion for design and the recent discovery of cooking made this a great choice.

My thoughts

The Hygge Life is a thoughtful book. A lovely gift for anyone interested in adding a bit of Nordic into their life.  I, like many, feel we can't get enough Nordic in our daily lives.  Below you will find some ideas and exploration I hope to do mid-winter. 


The Hygge Life

Equal parts cookbook and lifestyle guide, this cozy little book shows you how to cultivate comfort and contentment and embrace life’s small pleasures with the Danish practice of hygge.

Hygge (loosely translated as "coziness") is centered around the idea of inviting comforting elements into day-to-day life while creating warmth, community, and intimacy. The Hygge Life teaches you how small gestures (putting wool blankets and warm cider out for guests) or larger undertakings (building bonfires and making campfire bread to celebrate solstice) can warm the psyche and foster hygge, with more than 30 recipes for cozy and comforting food and drinks.

About the author: Icelandic born Gunnar Gíslason has garnered international acclaim for his creative style of cooking (Michelin Star in 2016.), his curious nature, and a love for reviving traditions.


The Nordic countries are generally considered Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, including their associated territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Åland Islands).

Festive Holidays include: 

  • St Lucia Day. A Swedish holiday. Introducing Christianity to the country in 304AD. (Dec 13)
  • St Knut's Day. Celebrates on last moment of indulgence before the long winter closes in.  Named after the Danish king in the middle ages.  It's a holiday celebrated by in Sweden and Denmark. (Jan 13)
  • Thorrablot is a midwinter Icelandic feast from Mid-January to Mid-February.  I imagine it's much like the Swedish smörgåsbord.
  • Shrovetide. Forty days before Easter begins the day before Ash Wednesday. Birch branches adorned with sweets for the children - the branch represents fertility.
  • Festival of Ostara to honor the Goddess of Spring.  The ritual of renewal and rejoicing. The origins of Easter are associated with Ostara.
  • Walpurgis Night. Feast day of Saint Walpurgis. (Apr 30)
  • Midsommer. Late June
  • St Martin's Day.  It's important day in history. (Nov 11) 

A few ideas I plan to make/incorporate after reading The Hygge Life:

1) I have fond memories of my grandmother's ginger cookies and plan to try the Ginger Cookie recipe in the book. 

2) Spa Visits.  I wrote about this in detail last spring, after spending a week in Sweden.  Scandinavian's believe in a weekly spa - to glow from the inside out. A home experience includes candles with an outdoor aroma and an epsom salt / invigorating essential oil soak. 

  • 1 Cups Epsom Salts
  • 2 Cups coarse Sea Salt
  • 12 drops of essential oil

Store in a dry glass jar with secure lid

3) I need to learn more about King Canute (995- 1035AD) who was alive at the end of the Viking Era.  He was the King of Denmark and Norway.  

I was raised in a Nordic state.  Minnesota is Nordic and Scandinavian. Hygge is a trend that was tradition/culture for me.  Cabins, hunting, fires for warmth.  Celebrating a brief summer.  I wonder if the Hygge trend is a direct outcome of Staycation which became popular during the financial crisis.  

Did you know of Hygge before 2010?  Do you incorporate Hygge in your daily life?