Hygge. The difficult-to-pronounce, Scandinavian word which is something of a cultural obsession in Denmark. Pronounced hoo-guh, The Oxford Dictionary defines Hygge as: “… a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing”.
Hygge is huge in Denmark – it underpins and overarches most facets of everyday life – and has, in recent years, permeated an international audience.
Hygge is not something you can touch, see, smell or taste, it is something you feel. It is feeling cosy, calm and happy, snuggled safely in your world, close to those who matter the most.
Hygge is about unplugging, chilling out, cherishing simplicity, connecting, and finding beauty and meaning in everyday rituals. It is about being kind to yourself (and your significant others), and, above all, good vibes.
Hygge can be felt alone, but is most abundant when you are close to those that mean a lot to you. It can be found in a bakery, a coffee shop or a cosy pub, but it is mostly achieved at home – one of the reasons why Danes have such beautiful, comfortable houses!
It is sipping freshly brewed coffee in the soft light of the morning sunrise, enjoying cocoa by candlelight and cuddling up in cosy knits by a crackling, open fire. It is Friday-night dining on simple delights with friends, and eating alfresco under festoon lights, come the summer months. It is Saturday morning baking in a warm, wonderful-smelling kitchen. It is healthy, wholesome and nourishing for the soul.
At the very least, hygge can provide relaxation and sanctuary in a busy, fast-paced world; at the most, it can prevent, treat and heal depressive disorders.
Cultivating the perfect place for hygge to flourish is easy and affordable (at the heart of hygge lies a belief of “wellbeing over wealth”). Fancy interiors, expensive furniture, and extravagant gestures are unnecessary, and are at odds with hygge’s fundamental principles. Simplicity is key, and the right mindset is crucial.
Whether you’re alone or in the company of others, it is important to connect, so that the hygge can flow. Hygge cannot be achieved if you are distracted by Facebook or Instagram notifications, so forget your phone, put your iPad to one side and fully unplug.
Fairness and equality are central to hygge; no one person ought to prepare the food or ready the table for an intimate evening. All tasks ought to be enjoyed as shared activities. Likewise, it is decidedly un-hygge to hog the evening’s conversation. So, sit back, listen and enjoy.
Hygge is achieved through intimacy, so small get-togethers are better than large gatherings. Within these preferred, close groups, there’s no need to brag or “big yourself up”, so tread lightly; everyone already likes you!
Savouring and appreciating simplicity is at the heart of hygge, so it is wholly important to be grateful for the moment, the intimacy and the feeling. Hygge equals happiness, so hygge is arguably as good as it gets.
In the pursuit of hygge, there is no place for controversy, drama or debate. So, leave the politics and the beef for another time! Remember, it’s all about good vibes only!
Hygge is about “healthy hedonism”; enjoying simple, wholesome pleasures – pastries, hot chocolate, good wine, hearty food – and not denying yourself anything. Equally, it is about humble moderation. There is no need to go all-out with fancy food and expensive wine, nor is there any need to overindulge. Hygge is about pleasure, enjoyment, and gratitude; not gluttony!
Nurturing and enjoying meaningful, happy relationships is key to achieving hygge. Sharing, bonding and reminiscing with your kith and kin over good food in cosy surroundings is the alpha and omega of hygge.
Trust in your tribe, feel safe in your surroundings, enjoy the serenity. Hygge can only be achieved when you are truly comfortable, relaxed and at peace.
Whether you’re out or at home, the right lighting and atmosphere are both crucial to achieving hygge. Harsh, strip lighting is anti-hygge, as are cold, minimalistic spaces. Soft, glowy lighting is perfect, and small, cosy havens are the one. And of course, candles are a must. Do not attempt hygge without plenty of candles!
Whilst you can hygge all year round, even in the summer months, chilly-day, cosy comfort forms the basis of the concept. Think snuggly blankets and cushions, slippers and soft socks. Slouchy sweaters and lovely layers are the hygge-seeker’s best friend. Feel-good softness and tactile textures are a must.