You’ve just come home after a long walk in the countryside on a beautiful, crisp winters day. Boots kicked off, you are now snuggled under a cashmere blanket by a roaring fire with a warm cuppa and your favourite read, while a roast cooks in the oven for the family meal you’ll enjoy later.
All in the world is calm and you feel a deep sense of contentment as you sink back into your most comfortable chair.
Now that is a ‘Hygge’ moment if ever there was one.
This long-term Scandinavia lifestyle staple, it’s having a huge moment right now and for good reason. Pronounced ‘hue-ga’, it loosely translates as ‘cosiness’, but this Danish phenomenon means so much more than that.
It’s about a feeling of wellbeing, warmth and “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things”.
Hygge first originated in Denmark in the 18th century and has been an integral part of Danish culture ever since. Now with a slew of books promoting the benefits of this lifestyle choice arriving on the shelves here this autumn, it’s set to become a big hit in the UK too.
And it’s at this time of year when Hygge really comes into it’s own. The nights are drawing in and there’s a nip in the air – which means it’s the perfect time to add a touch of Hygge to your life.
Think wrapping up in super soft woollen throw in front of a real fire, candles twinkling (these figure very highly in Hygge) with nothing to do but enjoy being cocooned away from the chilly weather outside. Sounds appealing doesn’t’ it?
Or it could be a relaxed dinner with friends, sharing delicious comforting food around a candle lit (we did say it was all about the lighting) table on a cold winter’s evening.
It does seem fitting that this appreciation of all things comforting should originated from Denmark as few other nations do cosy quite like the Danes. And is it a co-incidence that the latest OECD World Happiness Report put Denmark at No 1? We think not.
It’s not really rocket science to make the connection between relaxing in a soothing environment, eating good food with people you love, and an elevated sense of contentment.
So how can you bring some Hygge to your day to day?
Since Hygge is all about cosiness adding some warming touches to your home can instantly introduce it. Natural materials and fabrics are a must. Woollen throws, cashmere blankets, faux fur cushions and sheepskin rugs – anything that feels soft and inviting. Tactile is the key.
Lighting is a central concept. Flickering candles, low-level lamps and fairy lights are what it’s all about. Bright and overhead is simply not on the radar.
Hygge lends itself to Scandi style but no matter what your décor you can simple adapt the colour and look of your choices to work with your interiors.
Little touches like sheepskin slippers, some earthenware mugs or storm lantern candles really channel the ethos.
Cooking delicious meals from scratch with wholesome, locally sourced ingredients is the Hygge way to eat. There’s nothing fast about it. From a savouring a cup of freshly brewed coffee to enjoying a long lunch with family and friends, it’s about appreciating not just the taste of the food, but also the joy of eating and the kinship (there’s a good Viking word!) that can bring.
Now we know this is not always possible. We all eat on the run and sometimes rely on Waitrose meals you can just shove in the oven. But once or twice a week make time to cook properly and have a family meal. It’s healthier, it’s satisfying and it brings you all together. Totally Hygge.
Get out and about
Wrapping up and getting out in the fresh air during the colder months is essential for wellbeing and the Danes know this. Their winters might be bitterly cold but they still enjoy the great outdoors. Be it walking, cycling, skiing or even skating, outdoor activity clears your head and allows you to exercise while enjoying nature. Incredibly Hygge. Plus you get to relish the wonderful feeling of cosiness against the elements when you come back inside again, so double Hygge points.
Find your own Hygge
But the most important element of Hygge is that it’s totally personal. Whatever makes you feel really content and happy. So that could be ten minutes of peace and quiet to steep in a bath filled with aromatherapy oils, cozying up to your kids on the sofa while you all watch a Disney movie or lovingly making your own bread. Getting a sense of contentment is what Hygge is really all about and we could all do with a more of that in our lives.
Here are some of our favourite Hygge buys
Nourish macaroons, £4.99