A friend I know has pictures on their wall with the definition of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) “the warm feeling you get while enjoying the company of great friends and all life has to offer”. I was curious as to what this was, so off to research I went.
Hygge is a Danish word and way of life, with no literal translation into English, which encompasses a feeling of well-being, cosy contentment by living a simpler life.
Most of us will have experienced hygge without even realising it. Drinking a hot chocolate curled up on the sofa whilst it’s raining outside or lighting candles, giving the room a soft light and reading a book whilst it’s snowing outside. That is hygge. Strangely enough I realised that I hygge is part of how I live.
For the Danish this is an important way of life. Despite long cold winters, the Danish people are purported to be living in one of the happiest countries in the world.
Hygge is a warm, cosy and simple part of Danish culture and has been since the early 1800s.
So, what exactly is hygge and how can we incorporate this into our daily lives?
Candles are one of the most important aspects of hygge, and the Danes burn around 13lb of candles per head. They light not just one candle, but several candles at the same time to create a cosy atmosphere with soft flickering lights. I usually have 5 or 6 candles lit in my lounge most of the time. I go through a whole lot of candles! I also have fairy lights on my windowsills and a beautiful salt lamp. I never have my main lights on, I much prefer the soft glow. It makes me happy.
Fireplaces are also important, but I honestly don’t know many people who now have a fireplace. When the kids and I go away on holiday we usually have a log burner in our accommodation and we always get logs for it. We sit around it and play board games in the evening – that’s hygge.
Blankets, throws and cushions, knitted, fluffy, weighted or heated are also a must. Who doesn’t love wrapping a soft blanket round themselves and curling up with a good book? Oversized jumpers, soft pyjamas, fluffy socks, anything soft and comfortable all make things way more hygge.
When it comes to food any dish can be hygge if it’s important to you. It’s foods that you find comforting, the soups or stews your mum made or the shortbread Granny made. The chicken pie the kids love with creamy mashed potatoes. A hot drink, hot chocolate, tea, coffee whatever your preference.
Whilst winter would seem the time to practice hygge, the Danes adopt this lifestyle all year round. Think spring walks, picnics in the park during summer, beach bonfires, garden parties, fire pits burning at the start of autumn and making s’mores. This really is a way of life.
The emotional side of hygge may be because of the more relaxed atmosphere that is created. It is said to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of well-being and safety. This may allow us to open up more and share feelings and thoughts. Spending time with family and friends is an important aspect in hygge and that creates a healthy support system and bonds people together. Whilst it’s lovely to sit curled up watching the tv, maybe it would be more fun to invite a friend or two over to watch a movie, or have a pizza, or play some board games. Be present with people, connect to those around you.
Appreciate the simple things in life. Put down your mobile phone and switch off the tv. Light some candles and get some friends over for a comfort meal of your best chilli.
I’m off to make a hot chocolate and read my study book…