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Forget Hygge, This Secret Swedish Philosophy Will Clear Your Winter Stress

Picture of Alice Johnston
Food Editor
Updated: 27 October 2017
The wind howls and rain hammers at the window. You shiver as you drag on an extra jumper, and the weather forecast is predicting doom and gloom with such confidence that there seems like little point in leaving the house ever again.

Winter is here. And we have just the solution to your cold-weather blues.

We all know hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), the Danish philosophy that embraces cosiness, calmness and deriving contentment from small things.

'Mys' is the next big trend for winter | © Fotyma / Shutterstock
Mys is the next big trend for winter | © Fotyma / Shutterstock

Mys is the next big trend – and dare we say, it’s even better than hygge.

A Swedish tradition, mys is about taking time to slow down, relax, and eat delicious food. It means comfort and relaxation and taking some time away from the stressful outside world to recalibrate. In the adjective form, mysigt, it means warm and pleasant.

How is it different to hygge, you might ask? After all, the two concepts are both about feeling cosy and comfortable.

For a start, Swedish weather is worse than Danish weather. Parts of northern Sweden become dark 24 hours a day during winter. Temperatures can reach -30°C, with widespread snow and plenty of Northern Lights sightings. The Swedes might have a little more incentive to keep warm and cosy, then.

Junk food is an integral part of 'fredagsmys' | © Dane Deaner / Unsplash
Junk food is an integral part of fredagsmys | © Dane Deaner / Unsplash

The term fredagsmys, which translates as ‘cosy Fridays’, plays a large part in the general concept of mys. In the 1990s, the notion established itself in the Swedish consciousness that Friday evenings should be a time of cosy relaxation and a veritable feast of junk food. The tradition begun thanks to a highly successful marketing campaign for crisps, but don’t let that put you off.

A lot of the concept revolves around food, which is truly something to get behind.

It’s simple. Swedes work hard and want to relax at the end of a long week. To mark the start of the weekend, therefore, a celebration is needed. Thus you relax on a Friday evening with crisps, food such as pizza or tacos, some wine and something entertaining on TV.

Spending time with family and friends is a key part of 'mys' | © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
Spending time with family and friends is a key part of mys | © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

The tradition changes depending on your age and situation. If you have young children, they’ll stuff themselves gleefully with pizza while you relax with a pint of beer. If you love hanging out with a group of friends, you might get together to watch a film. And for a couple, fredagsmys is the perfect opportunity to start work on that Netflix series you’ve had your eye on.

Junk food is an important part of the equation, with the ubiquitous crisps being traditional but food like tacos is also popular. The sharing nature of an assemble-your-own taco party is full of the concept of conviviality and sharing, after all.

Yes, the concept is essentially just watching TV while eating good food (which frankly we would consider to be a staple for any time, not just Fridays). But the sense of occasion, the gleefulness and the lack of guilt over needing time to recharge and watch crap telly with ice cream in hand is what is needed. Mys is an attitude to life, something to look forward to and a way to survive long winter evenings with help from your favourite TV show and your your friends.

So this Friday, pull up a sofa, grab that blanket and put some pizza in the oven. It’s mys time.