It’s windy outside and my sitting room is getting colder with every minute. The leaves are flying, as well as trash cans and kids’ toys in the backyard. The gusts of wind sound scary. Rain drops bang on the windows violently. In the latest news they say that 1 person has been killed already by a fallen tree and 210,000 people are left without electricity. We still have it, but how long will it last? Matches and candles are at the ready just in case. And it’s only the beginning… The storm is expected to be the worst Ireland has seen ever since 1961. It’s called ex-hurricane Ophelia and it has a potential to make this day a history. But I hope it won’t.
With winter approaching, storms are going to become a more regular occurrence here. Not each storm is as strong, thank goodness, but it is still a storm. At times like this you are glad you are inside, sheltered from the rain and winds. You feel especially warm and secure, curled up with a blanket on your sofa, with a cup of steaming tea. It is so Hygge!
If you’re not in the trend of Hygge yet, then you need to familiarise yourself with it ASAP. Earlier this year I have read ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Meik Wiking. It honestly was one of the most delightful reads I’ve had this year and it especially comes in handy this time of the year as the cold weather sets in and we long for more comfort.
What is Hygge?
It is a word that rarely gets pronounced perfectly among the English speakers (unless you’re great in Scandinavian languages) and it is the word that doesn’t have a direct translation to English, but they say it doesn’t matter whether you can pronounce or translate it or not – hygge is something that must be felt.
If you’re still curious how to pronounce it though, it sounds kind of similar to hooga, but not quite. But it really doesn’t matter.
The word comes to us from Denmark, the country that is consistently rated to be the happiest in the world, and the Danes say it’s all because of Hygge. To them it is not just a fashionable trend – it is the way of life. Something like Hakuna Matata, only with a different meaning. Hygge is a feeling of internal comfort that can be only emphasized by the bad weather. It is the feeling that you get when you’re warm and cosy in your chunky knitwear or under a fluffy duvet, with a cup of hot cocoa or tea or in front of the fire, and the wind is howling outside or the rain knocks violently on the roof and windows. Ultimately, Hygge is something that we all crave in times of stress or in cold seasons, when we are tired or lonely. We can feel hygge both at home or outside, alone or in company.
What makes Hygge?
There are many things that add to hygge, from warm and cosy light and comfort food to pillows, socks and music. Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen explores it all in ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’, but there seems to be a set of particular things that contribute to hygge most of all. Let’s see what they are and how we can incorporate them in our daily life to have more Hygge.
How to create Hygge?
According to Meik Viking and statistics in his book, Denmark burns the most candles in Europe. Candles add coziness to any place and are definitely hygge. The Danes prefer unscented candles to scented ones. The majority of people light the candles every day and the more candles the better.
Hygge or no hygge, we all can agree that candles are absolutely best at creating a mood.
Candles are not the only way to create atmosphere, though. Lamps, garlands and fairy lights can create it, too. The warmer the light, the cozier the atmosphere. Using multiple light sources at different heights and angles also helps. To boost your hygge further light the fire – it will add literal warmth to the place.
Bring out whatever you can – sweaters, cardigans, scarves, socks and leg warmers. Dress in layers. Keep it casual. There is nothing as comfortable as layers of fine knit and chunky clothes, and they are also in trend, too. Layering clothes allows you to control how much warmth you get by adjusting the layers according to temperature, whether inside or outside.
Or [hoogakro] is a designated place where you can hygge up and relax. It may be a bay window seat or a comfy chair or just a spot on a sofa that you like to sit on. It may also be your bed. It is the place that makes you feel hyggelig, and it needs to be decorated accordingly. Add as many blankets and pillows as you like, direct some warm light or place it near a window for the natural light and keep candles nearby. It’s such a great feeling to come home after a long and tiring day at work and relax in your personal hyggecrog. And when it’s stormy outside like it is here today, there’s nothing more comforting than watching the storm unfold from a safe and warm spot. This is the ultimate hygge.
The Danes say that food is hyggelig big time! But of course, they are speaking about comfort foods, soups, roasts and cakes. And while they are indeed hyggelig, I would still not indulge in them too much. Maybe once in a while. Many healthier options can be hyggelig, too. Take pumpkin soup, for example. Wine is hygge. But it is important to remember the limit. There are plenty of other, non-alcoholic drinks, that can be hygge.
Wine and spirits are not necessary for having a high quality hygge. Teas, coffee or hot chocolate may serve you just as good, if not better. It can be any tea you like, even a herbal concoction. Simply serve it in a pretty ceramic or china cup, or better yet, use some handmade mug cozy.
You can feel perfectly hyggelig alone, but being social creatures as we are, it is often not the case for most of us. Spending time with close friends and family in a warm, relaxing atmosphere is one of the most pleasurable experience. One tip that can help you to enjoy it more this fall is to consider how you can implement all of the previously mentioned Hygge factors into the next gathering. Choose the right lighting, food, drinks and accessories, plan some pleasurable activities and have that perfectly hyggelig time with your loved ones.
Other Things that are Hygge
There are many other things that can make you feel cozy inside out. It’s good music, good books, playing board games and cooking. Christmas is hygge, and so can be summer. Physical activity and extreme sports can boost your feeling of hygge afterwards. But ultimately, it depends on you and your personal preferences.