The problem with hygge

A case against the popular Danish trend encouraging you to stay inside all winter.

This story is part of GoMN's 2017-18 Winter Guide.

Spend enough time on social media, and it's painfully obvious that many of us are raring AF to align personal habits, no matter how banal, with some sort of widespread trend. Electric candles in mason jars turn camping into "glamping," ditching someone on Tinder is "ghosting," and the hashtags keep piling up.

As the weather gets colder and lattes turn a soft, pumpkin-y shade, you're going to start hearing a lot about hygge again.

The word is of Danish origin. Said out loud, it sounds like the noise you make getting up from the couch after polishing off leftover pecan pie. "Hue-guh." It loosely translates as "coziness," and is open-ended enough to convey that warm feeling of well-being you'd get from seeking togetherness at a friend's party – but also firing up Hulu, wrapping up in a blanket, and skipping the party because it's 37 degrees outside. 

In the U.S. and the U.K., hygge has already spawned an alarming amount of lifestyle books extolling the virtues of the movement, which centers around low lighting, the comfiest of clothes, and intimate gatherings with only the closest of friends and family. If you're still struggling to visualize, just open an Ikea catalog and turn to the page with the softest pillows. 

We already know that Minnesotans have a weakness for all things Scandinavian, especially when they've been kissed by the allure of Euro-trendiness. Yogurts named Skyr and Quark are flying off the shelf at your local Whole Foods, and you can't rattle a cocktail shaker without knocking over a bottle of artisanal Aquavit

But we must commit all of our efforts into resisting the obvious allure of hygge. 

Plainly put, the last thing Minnesota needs is a Pinterest-ready excuse to stay indoors all winter. Studies have already proven that we of the North Star state are a cold, closed-off people resistant to leaving our comfort zones. Hygge is an outright fetishization of the comfort zone. Hygge sees your Friday night plans, tuts at them disapprovingly, slides the ottoman under your slippered feet, and presses a glass of glögg into your open palm. 

To be clear, there's nothing whatsoever wrong with being a homebody every now and again. There will be nights this winter when it's downright unsafe to leave your home. But if we don't nip this Scandophile trend before it blossoms in Minnesota, we risk forfeiting our state's many winter opportunities for well-being outside our homes to the siren song of sweatpants. Even if it's just making the trip to buy more Aquavit, it counts. 

Udforske | verb
Definition: a. to explore; b. to investigate

To overcome our instincts to remain idle, we must fight fireplaces and Amazon Fire TV with actual fiery resolve. 

Therefore, I suggest replacing hygge with an equally obscure bit of Danish: udforske. "Ool-for-skuh!" If web translation services are to be believed, it means "to explore or investigate," and that is the kind of motivational lifestyle advice we need. 

Our state has so much to offer – naturally, culturally, experientially – even in the dead of winter. We, the hardiest of Midwesterners, need to put on extra layers, a warm coat, and that core-toasting scarf. Stop eyeing the armchair covered in chevron-embroidered throw pillows, and just keep moving. Call a Lyft if you must, hashtag it if you must, but just get out there.

This story is part of GoMN's 2017-18 Winter Guide.

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