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So, you know how we don’t talk about Bruno?* In Scandiland, we also do not talk about the h-word. Well, we do, but only to acknowledge that our Danish and Norwegian families insist on saying hu-gah when they really mean mys.

Just so we’re clear, this is the last time we’re going to use this word here, okay, but hygge means mys. Mys is a versatile word we use to describe a lot of nice things. It begins with the verb ‘att mysa’ (to cosy up), an old word initially used to describe the feeling and the facial expression that often comes with it. Then we get the adjective ‘mysig’ (cosy) to describe something that gives you that special myskänsla (mys-feeling), and the noun ‘mys’ (cosiness).

So, mys means cosiness? Yes, it does. But it’s not just that. Mys is more of a concept than a word, or even a compound word, and sweet Loki do we love our compounds. To fully grasp what mys is all about, I think you need to consider the long, harsh winters we have in Scandiland and what they do to folksjälen, the spirit of the people. Yes, I know, they have harsh winters in Canada/parts of the US/other places too. Thing is, we all have a shared experience beyond the fact that there’s more than one type of snow. People in sub-arctic climates know a thing or two about survival.

It’s not just that the freezing temperature could kill you. The winter season is loooong. Sometimes it begins in late September/early October and doesn’t end until late May. We had snow on the 21st of May one year and that summer the permafrost only thawed in direct sunlight. Then there’s the darkness. Daylight, depending on where you live, ranges from a few hours a day to Goodbye, sweet Sun, see you in a couple of months. It plays on your mind, the darkness does, and it’s not all that hard to understand why our ancestors feared it. With no Google to set them straight, how could they know for sure the season would turn again and a new spring would follow?

We also have to factor in the ever-present risk of starvation. I don’t know a single Northener who doesn’t have a well-stocked pantry. Even in London, shops run out of food when the (very short) winter decides to be slightly winterish for a day or two. Please note, that this is a country where people wear shorts in December. In Scandiland, Kung Bore (Old Man Winter) may very well leave you without electricity and access to food or petrol for days on end. Most of us stockpile and harvest what we can from early spring to late autumn. You never know how long the winter will last, and you need to be able to eat even on days without access to shops or electricity.

A myshörna (mys corner) by the fireplace. Mysfåtölj (mys armchair) with a soft blanket, some candles, and a hot beverage. Add a good book to complete the picture.

The winter season can be brutal and unforgiving, and there is no escaping it. (Unless you’re the type who effs off to Thailand, but that’s a modern viking kinda lifestyle we don’t hold with, so we don’t talk about that either.) There are only two things that can, and will, save your life, limbs and sanity: prepping and mys. Prepping, making preparations, is the art of looking after your house and stocking up on food and supplies. Mys is almost the same thing, but where prepping aims to secure your home and keep you fed, mys provides psychological protection and (re)fills your mental, emotional and spiritual reserves.

Now, you may think that mys is something we do in the winter, and you would be right. Especially vuxenmys (adult mys), which some suggest can be statistically verified by looking at childbirth rates. Be that as it may, mys does help us make it through the winter. We have höstmys, adventsmys, julmys, glöggmys, and myströjor (autumn mys, Advent mys, Yule mys, mulled wine mys, and mys jumpers), but just like we prep all year round, we mys 365 days a year. Especially on Fridays. Fredagsmys is sacred wind-down time, often spent on the couch with a bowl of sweets and something family-friendly on the telly. It used to be Saturdays, but things changed, as they are wont to do.

On top of winters and Fridays, we have mysrum, myshörnor, myssoffor, myskuddar, and myskläder (mys rooms, mys corners, mys couches, mys pillows, and mys clothes). You can call someone, or something, a mysunge, mysmamma, myspappa, mysvovve, myskisse, mysfarbror, or myshusse (mys kid, mys mum, mys dad, mys doggo, mys kittie, mys uncle/old man, or mys Master) and you can give people myskramar (mys hugs) just because it’s nice to give and get them. You can also have mysfrukost, tjejmys, helgmys, soffmys, mysfika, vinmys, or just general myspys (mys breakfast, girls’ mys, weekend mys, couch mys, mys fika, wine mys, mys (pys in this context has no meaning – it just rhymes)). And let’s not forget – you can measure or talk about the level of mys in terms of the mysfaktor (mys factor).

It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent more than an afternoon in my company that I have a bit of an issue with the American way of monopolising and commercialising stuff in the extreme. This is the main reason why I refuse to say the h-word. See, mys became instagrammable a few years ago, and suddenly the h-word was used as a unique selling point for everything from fashion to home decor. There are over 4,000 books about it on the zon! Written by Americans. So, what’s wrong with that? Well, for starters, you won’t find 4,000 books on mys in Scandiland. It’s a lifestyle, not a gimmick or something we need to write books about. This need to squeeze every last penny out of things is also a sign of our time that I find pretty sad.

A mysvovve (mys doggo) soffmyser (is couch mysing) under a cosy blanket.

Winter may be a season, but there are metaphorical winters too and we have all been caught up in a proper fimbul winter since 2020. One might argue that it began to sneak up on us back in the 90s. We are suffering from a different kind of cold, drowning in a darkness that no calendar can say when it’ll end. Resources are scarce, food sometimes hard to get hold of, and the cost of living crisis is pushing people out of their homes straight into destitution. It’s too late for prepping, but it’s not too late. We can still salvage some bits here and there, “klepto the joy out of the stream of life,” as Sir Bear would say. And we can always mys.

The best part about mys as a concept is that it is meant to be shared. Mys is always better in company, as all the words we have for different forms of mys demonstrate. And the best thing about it is that you probably already know exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t need to be Scandi to mys, to have felt mysig, or to have engaged in mys. You’ve been doing it all your life, even if you don’t have a whole heap of words for it. And even if you never made an active choice to make mys a fundamental part of your survival strategy. But we can fix that. And I won’t charge you a penny.

I have more articles on mys, and how to make room for more mys in your life, in this series. For now, as a general rule, all you need to know is that mys has to make you feel good. If it doesn’t, it isn’t mys. And more often than not, the mys factor increases exponentially with the number of hot beverages and soft blankets we add to the mix. Mysbelysning (candles and/or dimmed lights) is optional, but it’s a definite mysförhöjare (mys enhancer).

Right, so before I leave you to get your mys on, let’s do this one more time for the kids in the back: It’s mys, not huga! Huga is an interjection used to express disgust, and mys is never disgusting. As for that other h-word – we don’t talk about that here. And that, my friend, is the Americans’ fault.


1) We don’t talk about Bruno is a saying and a song title from the 2021 Disney film Encanto.

2) I don’t hate Americans. I really don’t. They/You (#notallamericans) just rub me up the wrong way when they/you try to gatekeep or commercialise my culture.


a blue ship's door with the sign "LINNEA LUCIFER"
author bio

Linnea Lucifer is the Captain of the imaginary, yet very real, pirate ship Resilience and her merry crew of indie authors and omnivorous readers. But that is not all – amateur liar, weaver of stories, peddler of merch, lifelong spoonie, ancient dragon lady and Maddox Rhinehart’s irreverent pet are a few more words often used to describe the bearer of many names.

The Captain was named after a delicate little flower that grows in mossy, Swedish pine forests, and a certain fiery fallen angel. She spends most of her days daydreaming and writing fantasy, smut and painfully crappy poems. A diva of delight, she takes great pleasure in everything that tickles the senses and adds a sprinkle of magic and spice to our world.

Linnea writes fantasy rooted in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore under the pen name Saga Linnea Söderberg. She also writes Sweet’n’Spicy Spoonie romance together with Leto Armitage under their joint pen name Linn Rhinehart.


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