There couldn’t be a better season to dive into hygge (pronounced hue-gah) a Danish word, which refers to a feeling of cosiness, simple pleasures, relaxation, togetherness and contentment. The word has no direct translation in English, though ‘cosy’ comes close. It is said to be more a feeling or ambience, but actually extends beyond this to encompass a way of life. It is about cherishing simple pleasures like snuggling up on a coach, reading a good book, putting on woolen sweaters and socks, creating a delicious meal to share with family and friends by candlelight.
WIth Denmark consistently ranking as one of the happiest countries in the world, it is no wonder interest in hygge has exploded in popularity around the world. The actual origin of the word is Norwegian and old Nordic. It means seeking refuge, protection, and shelter from the raging of the outside elements. Anthropologist Jeppe Trolle Linnet says translating hygge into homeyness would actually be more correct as the home is the place where you can be yourself and shut out the big, dark, and dangerous world outside.
One of the key ingredients to an authentic hyggeligt home is the lighting. The goal being a ‘warm glow’ using a mixture of floor, table and wall lamps. However, the electric lights many of us use at home are not cosy. They burn too brightly or are just the wrong colour. So by far the best and quickest way to invoke hygge is with candle light which provides what they refer to as ‘levende lys’ meaning, living light.
Another important element of a hyggeligt home is a hyggekrog, a nook or a place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea. Side note, everyone deserves a hyggekrog!
You may be getting the idea that this way of life is largely centred around pleasure but it’s certainly not in a hedonistic way. It is very much about deriving joy and contentment from the little things. It’s almost the antidote to modern life and a return to ways that foster true connection and wellbeing.
Perhaps my favourite discovery while delving into this topic though is the ‘hyggebukser’ otherwise known as that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure. I guess some things are truly universal and maybe the real secret to happiness is a good old pair of tracky dacks…