Winter is the most hygge time of year. Hygge (pronounced HEW-ga) is the Scandinavian word for a mood of coziness, comfort and conviviality. It is associated with feelings of wellness and contentment. Recently, it has become a characteristic of Danish culture, and in the past year it has spread well beyond Scandinavia.

It seems particularly appropriate to winter and especially Christmas Eve. On a cold, snowy night, this is all about candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts and, of course, a warm fireplace.

Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun. Danish doctors apparently recommend “tea and hygge” as a cure for the common cold. You can hygge alone under a thick blanket,  in your flannel pajamas, sipping a hot toddie, but it seems that true hygge is done with loved ones. Couples are good, but four seems to be the ideal.

I had heard about this last year, but it wasn’t until I listened to the ladies of the By The Book podcast  (Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer) who test out self-help books and they recently tried hygge via The Little Book of Hygge.

There is certainly no shortage of books on hygee, but to embrace it only requires some conscious appreciation. I find in it elements of other cultural movements and philosophies. It encourages a kind of slowness and being present but also enjoying the present. Sounds Buddhist, but I like adding that enjoyment part.

There seem to be lots of hygge words that have emerged, such as hyggebukser, which is that pair of pants you love and wear around the house but never wear in public.

The happiness levels of Americans are lousy compared to those of Danes. Why are they so happy? Maybe it is all that cold and snow, which how I imagine Denmark. Their homes are supposedly more homey. They better be homey for when you get out of that cold. They celebrate experiences over possessions.

Some of those books are “How to Hygge” and some have recipes, tips for cozy living at home and healthy hedonism.

Last year, an article in The New Yorker that called 2016 the Year of Hygge, so I guess I am a year late to the party. Though it says that you can’t buy a “hygge living room” and there are no “hygge foods,” I have seen a few books about just those things. Hygge has gone commercial.

Want some hygge food and drink tonight? Try some cardamom buns,  ultimate muesli “ne plus ultra,” and triple cherry gløgg.  That gløgg is a Scandinavian mulled wine with more cardamom pods and star anise and sounds perfect for tonight – and I do love cardamon in my chai tea too.

Is this a possible cure for SAD? I doubt it, but it might help.

Want to feel some hygge? Cuddle up with someone on the sofa, wear cozy socks and clothing, light only candles, turn off the phone and TV and have some cake with your favorite hot drink. Get cozy.