Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-guh’) is a Danish word meaning cosiness, a gentle warmth of belonging and comfort. With hygge embedded in the Danish way of life, it is no surprise that despite the long and freezing winters, Denmark remains one of the happiest countries in the world. In fact, hygge is derived from the Norwegian word for well-being.
But what is it, really? Well, have you ever sat in your favourite café with a good book and a quality cappuccino as the rain danced outside? Or have you snuggled in front of a fire in your favourite old socks with your loved ones? Hygge is that, and more. Personally, hygge came in the form of soft Turkish music, spiced tea, and a new favourite board game. Hygge has a way of gently making itself known in your life, welcoming you home with warm arms.
We could all do with a little cosiness and some Danish happiness, so as the seasons turn to winter, how can you start living the hygge life?
In Scandinavia, the home is seen as an extension of one’s self. Similar to the minimalism and Kondo movements, hygge means filling your home with things that give you joy. What distinguishes the Danish perspective from these more anti-clutter philosophies is that it encourages you to see your space as a part of yourself and embrace full shelves of items that make you feel at home. It’s time to ditch the items that you shudder to look at, but if you keep a collection of knick-knacks full of love, you’re well on your way!
2. Set the Mood
When you imagine a cosy room, what do you see? A roaring fireplace, or flickering candles? Ask any Dane and you will definitely hear candles and huggelig atmosphere within the same breath. Creating mood lighting is essential to creating a cosy environment, whether that is with your favourite scented candle, a statement lamp, or the crackle of a good fire.
The key to hygge is, of course, comfort food. Every country and nationality has their own understanding of the perfect comfort food, but it boils down to familiarity. For example, in Denmark, a hygge evening would not be complete without pastries, meatballs and caffeine. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the perfect food, but a warm drink and a filling meal is always a good idea. (Plus, when you’re cozied up in sweaters and blankets, no one will be able to tell you’ve eaten exclusively carbs for the last few meals)
4. Spend Time with Loved Ones
One of the best ways to celebrate and embrace hygge is to enjoy it with your loved ones. Prioritise spending time face to face by ditching the smartphone to cook a meal together, gossip over some tea, or put on an old favourite movie. Introduce your friends and family to huggelig time and encourage them to bring their understanding of home with them. Take a moment to appreciate the soft presence you have in each other’s lives. However entangled, complex or brief, you share a great story with these people, and together you can create a home with shared warmth. Consider making a hygge night, either as a reprieve from the 9 to 5, a way to catch up, or just for the joy of it!
5. Blankets, Sweatpants and Sweaters
Last, but certainly not least, load up on your favourite sweaters, sweatpants and blankets! Break out the outfits you wouldn’t even wear on a countdown milk run. Pile on the pillows, blankets and throws and throw on your warmest knits. Now is not the time for high fashion, rather feeling totally comfortable in your home and in your skin.
As the leaves turn to orange, and the beach towels get placed away for next season, consider adopting the hygge philosophy into your life. Live life warmly and with gratitude for the simplest moments. Welcome hygge into your home, and it too will welcome you home.