Breathe deeply and say HOO-GUH. This is how you pronounce hygge, a Danish concept, and a word that originated in Norwegian. First appearing in the 18th century in Danish writing, it came to be equated with wellbeing and was born out of long, harsh and solitary winters.
A combination of Scandinavian survival and sensuality, hygge represents the everyday pursuit of happiness. The closest word we have in English is 'cosy', but that falls awfully short of encompassing its true meaning.
Hygge: more than a fad
Due to its buzzword boom a few years ago, some might perceive hyyge as a fad, but in Denmark, it is far from a trend, it’s a way of life. During the long, dark winters when Danes retreat inside their homes, hygge is what derives feelings of comfort and joy.
It can be implemented through peppering cosy candles around your house, adding twinkly lights, introducing more favourite books to your shelves and coffee tables, popping a fluffy rug over flooring and dressing your sofas with soft blankets.
A celebration of simple pleasures
In Charlotte Abrahams’s book Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures she points out comforting accessories to add into the home. “Focus on natural materials with plenty of texture to add visual warmth”. Bringing the outside in through the the form of dried foliage, botanical art and collected natural accessories is the perfect answer to this.
But hygge isn’t just about how things look, it’s also about how things feel—the sun on your face on a warm day, slipping on a pair of fluffy thick socks, clambering into bed in silky nightwear, savouring a homemade cookie, or putting on a comfortable sweater when it’s chilly outside.
It’s also about spending time with the people that you love, making memories and enjoying the moments that we love. Inviting our nearest and dearest to share an experience together that we can look back on with fondness.
Acknowledging and expressing gratitude for our health, homes, family and friends alongside simple things like fresh air, nourishing food or a hot drink remind us of life’s good things rather than focusing on its absences. Outward expressions of gratitude can make ourselves and others happier and deepen our relationships.
A practice for the everyday
“Hygge is something I practice every day. I try to build a little pleasure and gratitude into my daily routine,” says Wiking. Listening to the birds chirp in the morning, enjoying an afternoon cup of herbal tea while people watching from the window, rifling through a beautifully presented book, and spending time in the kitchen baking sweet treats are all things we can take pleasure in.
Practicing gratitude on a daily basis through journal writing is a further simple and quick way to embrace hygge, and is easy to make into a habit when you have something beautiful to enclose all that you’re grateful for.
All of sudden, with hygge in mind, the changing seasons or lingering winters don’t seem to induce quite the same level of blues. So, there is our advice: create for yourself those moments of warmth either by yourself surrounded by cosy comforts or together with someone that you love.