If you love ‘nesting’ and taking pleasure in the simple things, chances are you’ll be familiar with the Danish concept of ‘hygge’.
I recently read a great little book called ‘A Very British Hygge’ and feel I understand it more now, from a British perspective.
The book was written by Simon Sinclair in partnership with Everest (the home improvement specialists who know a thing or two about getting cosy, having supplied windows and doors for over fifty years) and I have a few copies to give away later in the post. But first…
How do we Define Hygge?
Hygge (pronounced hue-guh, but the author doesn’t mind how you say it) is a Danish word that describes a cosy, warm or special feeling. It’s about appreciating a moment and taking enjoyment, whether that’s brewing a perfect cup of tea and drinking it from a china cup, or buying a weekly bunch of flowers, for example.
There’s no direct translation of the word, but we can take it to mean a feeling of contentment, comfort, kinship, familiarity.
So What is British Hygge?
The author points out that the Danes, despite having long, cold, dark winters and a high cost of living, are cited as being some of the happiest people on the planet.
But can we really take a leaf out of their book- after all, us Brits love a good moan, don’t we? I don’t think that will ever change, but considering we too have long winters to contend with and also a high cost of living, the similarities are there, so perhaps its about us viewing the glass half full rather than half empty?
The Danes are really good at appreciating a simple life – they’re not overly materialistic and see the small daily rituals not as drudgery but as little artforms with the potential for happiness. Sounds smug or pretentious? Not really – there’s a scientifically proven link between being thankful and being happy that comes not from owning ‘stuff’ but from appreciating experiences and moments of enjoyment.
And some of these things we already do well, like enjoying a good fireside chat with a warming tipple in hand. Or chatting to a friend on the phone. Or getting in our onesies and settling in for a good box set session.
The Hygge Home
It makes sense that the environment around us affects our mood and feelings of wellbeing. We should aim to be more clutter free – as mentioned above, its not about having lots of possessions, but keeping things that have meaning and letting go of other items. Less clutter; but its still ok to be messy thankfully! Lived in and welcoming works for me – if your home feels too much like a perfect showhouse, people won’t relax in it.
Feeling that your home is safe and secure is important too – strong doors and windows that lock securely and are draught free, like those from Everest, protecting the family from the elements.
Light is another factor – sunshine makes you feel good and having a conservatory or large glass doors and windows allows lots of light in, even when the sunshine is quite weak and watery. You can cosy up the inside with mountains of cushions and throws and a big basket of logs by the fire. Candlelight in the evening gives a lovely warming glow which is very hygge.
My Idea of Hygge
Going for a family walk, wrapped up in warm coats, hats and gloves, kicking through leaves and drinking hot chocolate from a flask
Making a big batch of home cooked soup and enjoying it with crusty bread and butter
Settling down on the sofa for a Christmas movie with popcorn and blankets, the cats asleep by the fire
Making waffles with the kids
Eating comfort food by candlelight
Sharing coffee and cake with a friend
An early morning run with no one around
These are just some of my ideas, but Simon has included loads more in the guide, for each and every season. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, simply follow the easy steps below. I have five copies of the booklet to give away and you can also read more about this subject on the Everest website here.