Denmark has an international reputation for being one of the happiest nations in the world, and hygge, described as “the art of creating intimacy“, is widely recognised to be the magic ingredient to this happiness.
Whether you’re cuddled up on a sofa with your mate or sharing comfort food with your relatives, hygge is about creating an atmosphere where we can let our guard down. And what better time than Holiday season to embrace this new way of life? After a turbulent, less than a cosy year, we all need to pursuit everyday happiness.
What is Hygge?
You may have noticed numerous posts on your Instagram feed of cosy-looking shots of burning candles on wooden tables, of open log fires and steaming mugs of cocoa, all bearing the same caption “Hygge”. However, Hygge is not the art of collecting things or something you buy but a state of mind.
Danish people are encouraging us to reconnect with our loved ones, something we are all guilty of neglecting from time to time. They want us to relish in deep conversations as well as to indulge in simple comforts and pleasures like cooking hearty meals or playing our favourite board games to keep stress at bay.
The principles of hygge are quite simply – says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the best seller ‘The Little Book of Hygge‘-.You need atmosphere, presence, equality, gratitude, harmony, which involve recognizing and celebrating your tribe. It’s a way of creating a warm and inviting space for friends and family to linger together, sharing in warm food, drink and conversations
How to bring the cosiness in
While working on harmony and equality might require a bit of an effort, we can definitely learn how to take better care of ourselves and those ones we love starting from adding a touch of Hygge atmosphere to our home.
Create mood lighting
According to Decorilla‘s stylists, the idea behind Hygge is for someone to walk into your home and immediately get the “I love to live here” vibe. Candles, lamps, and fireplaces are among the common uses of lighting always found in a home full of Hygge spirit. A cosy reading nook with a plush chair and warm light are what they recommend to find your inner zen and relax your body and mind.
Get some cosy throws and hot cuppas
For lifestyle and mindfulness coach Kiran Singh, passionate about home styling, “you experience Hygge when you are able to be fully present in the moment, feel content and at ease. Hygge often happens when you are together with the people closest to you, your nearest and dearest; people with whom you can be open and sincere with, where you don’t have to pretend to be anything besides who you are“.
In order to incorporate a touch of Hygge to your interiors for this festive season and beyond, she suggests to curling up on the couch with soft cushions and a big comfortable textured blanket draped over you and make your kettle your new best friend. Not a tea person? “Cocoa or coffee will also do the trick – she says-. My current favourite is Yorkshire Biscuit Tea with Oat milk, but if I feel I need something a bit more nourishing, I’ll make Golden (turmeric) Milk“.
Creating a Hygge Christmas means simplicity and incorporating natural elements in your home. Think about using tree branches, twine, pinecones, and other evergreen pieces from the outdoors. “I love introducing nature, in the form of freshly cut flowers, branches, herbs – says BoConcept interior designer Gitte Kjaer-. And for Christmas, I add little extras, like handmade ornaments, much-loved finds and of course, plenty of candles“.
Wood finishes like warm walnut and natural are perfect for this interior aesthetic and help to convey a sense of Hygge all year round. A must is to avoid too many plastics or acrylics and keep to man-made materials wherever possible; the sense of hygge is all in the small personal detail. Colour schemes are often purely monochrome, or a subtle mix of harmonious tonal shades.
Display treasured memories
Hygge is all about creating an environment of happiness. For this festive season, put up a creative display of all your favourite family photos, prints and paintings. A gallery wall with lots of images is a great addition to any Hygge room, but scattering lots of little memories throughout your home will have a similar effect. Another Hygge tip is to simply display all the books you have read around your home, as these often spark conversations with guests at gatherings.
Bake some goodies
It is clear that spending time with family and friends is something which is encapsulated by the concept of Hygge. Making food and gathering for meals is a wonderful way to celebrate life’s simple pleasures year-round. However, giving some special attention to your dining area as well as those little Christmassy treats are a must. In the book ‘How to Hygge’, Norwegian author Signe Johansen offers rich Danish recipes that keep your oven hot and encourage hygge enthusiasts to celebrate the “joy of Fika“, in other words, cake and coffee with friends and family. Also, Kneading the dough can be very cathartic and tucking into a home-made bake is one of life’s great simple pleasures.
In the end, Hygge is where the heart is.
Hygge comes from a society that prioritizes tender values and is shaped by the patterns of egalitarian behaviour- Louisa Thomsen Brits writes in ‘The Book Of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection‘-. Hygge is about building a sanctuary. We shelter each other when we invite people into our homes; when we give time, listen well, or provide a bed for the night; when we offer privacy, a winged armchair, anonymity, a tent in the garden.
Surely, this is a philosophy that emphasizes more intentional ways to find happiness in reconnecting with our close feelings. And, isn’t this what we all really need?