Hygge (hue-guh): a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well being - Definition from Oxford Languages.
There's no direct translation for 'hygge' in the English language. It's a Danish concept which embodies a feeling rather than a thing. Perhaps the closest we get in the English language is 'cosy,' but it can't quite come close to capturing the comfort and contentment of hygge.
But one thing's for sure; if you've felt hygge, you'll recognise that feeling now. It's that moment when you're curled up in an armchair with a good book and a cup of tea and you can't help but let out a sigh of contentment.
It's that moment when, after a long day, you find yourself surrounded by your closest friends, sipping wine and laughing over shared jokes and easy conversation.
It's the feeling you get when you share good food with good friends or family, or when you sit in comfortable, companionable silence with someone you love.
Hygge doesn't need to be big or fancy or complex. In fact, it seldom is. It can be experienced whether you're indoors or out, alone or with friends, in the day or the night. It can be as simple as making a ritual of your morning coffee or of lighting a candle with your evening meal. Ultimately, it's about awareness, mindfulness and receptivity.
While it cannot be engingeered or 'faked,' there are certainly things we can do to open our lives up to a bit more 'hygge':
Keep It Simple
Hygge doesn't need to be learned or bought, just practiced and felt. You don't need to dash out to the shops or rearrange your whole house, but be mindful of your future purchases and of how you can utilise what you've got.
Surround Yourself With Loved Ones
Spend quality time with people you really love and feel comfortable with. But don't forget to take time out for yourself too. We're often more mindful and 'in the moment' when we're on our own, and we need a bit of time to recharge our batteries. Some need more than others so be sure to take the time you need.
Dim The Lights
Turn down the bright, energy-guzzling bulbs and opt for candles and LED fairy lights instead. Instantly cosy, low lighting creates a sense of atmosphere and an ephemeral glow. When choosing your candles, pay attention to the type of wax used, and of course, choose your favourite scents. Try something warm like this peppered pomegranate candle, something fresh like this driftwood candle, or mimic the real thing with this log fire candle. When using candles, be sure to open the windows, which brings us on to our next point...
Let The Outside In
Bring the outside in with plenty of greenery. Even artificial greenery (if you're like me and can kill even the hardiest of plants,) can help give the sense of more fresh, open living, but real plants can also help you create a new mindful ritual. Fresh air, too, plays a big part in our mental and physical wellbeing. Of course, spending time outdoors in nature is a wonderful antidote to many of life's woes, but sometimes, particularly in Denmark (or here in The Lakes) it's just too wet or chilly. To counteract this, the Danes are big fans or bringing natural elements into the home, such as stone walls, natural wooden features and furniture, and stacks of logs for an open fire.
Throw Another Log On The Fire
Whether you're curled up with a good book or enjoying a glass of wine and chatting until the wee hours with friends, a roaring fire is perhaps the epitome of cosiness. And why wait until the colder months? Light the bonfire, invite friends for a BBQ or toast marshmallows on the fire pit, If you don't have the real thing, try this log fire candle!
Whether you're entertaining, or enjoying a quiet meal in, cooking needn't be complicated. Opt for fuss-free, wholesome meals such as a hearty soup or a rustic pie.
Get stuck in
While cooking needn't be complicated, home made is best. Turn cooking into a group activity by involving loved ones, or take a mindful moment while you need dough or roll pastry. The smells of fresh baked bread, freshly baked biscuits or warm pastry wafting through the house are about as hygge as it gets, and breaking into a home cooked loaf with loved ones is one of life's true pleasures. Get the family involved in the simple pleasures of baking with these Herdy cookie cutters.
Is there anything cosier than a big mug of hot cocoa, warmed gently over the stove and enjoyed just as slowly. Make it a ritual and take the time to heat the milk and chocolate gently in a pan, before wrapping your hands around the mug while you sit and watch the steam rise.
You don't need to surround yourself with people to experience hygge, but spending quality time with loved ones can be extremely enriching, and sharing food, stories and experiences together can evoke strong feelings of contentment and comfort.
Life can be so hectic. Take your time to enjoy the simple pleasures. Step back from technology and practice mindfulness. Above all, to experience hygge, you must be open to it. Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, put your phone away, reward yourself with a hot cocoa and embrace the feeling!