‘Hygge’ and why my family are all getting the book for Christmas!
Having seen the word ‘Hygge’ around a few times, I wanted to find out more about this Danish concept, and what it means. How can I adapt this ‘Cosiness of the soul’ into my life, and why so many people are talking about it.
So I ordered the book by Meik Wiking, Little Book of Hygge, and set about reading it. The term Hygge (pronounced Hooga) comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being” and it first appeared in Danish writing in the 19th century, that has become the cultural idea known in Denmark today.
Because Denmark has up to 17 hours of darkness a day in the heart of Winter, and very low temperatures, it means people spend a lot of time indoors trying to keep warm. This then gives more emphasis on socialising, and entertaining.
Hygge is translated in lots of ways but strongly linked to cosiness, life’s little pleasures, simple things in life, spending time with loved ones and friends. Meik says hygge is about atmosphere and experience rather than about things. Denmark has had the position of the happiest country in the world and this is no accident. The Dane’s spend lots of time with friends and family understanding how to have inner peace and tranquillity.
The top things associated with hygge are candles, good lighting, warmth, fires, good food, cakes, nice hot drinks and cosy things to eat. Danes light more candles than any other nation in the world. Hygge is also around in the Summer too, but it just feels different to Winter and the other seasons. Bonfires on beaches, relaxing walks, staying in Cabins, having a BBQ with friends are all nice atmospheric things to do.
All of this got me thinking about my own nation the UK, whether or not we have cosy things and rituals we follow to make ourselves feel better and the answer I came up with was YES! of course we do. It just seems that we don’t have a name for it and perhaps we don’t use our ‘cosy’ time by making a feature of it. I think we can be a bit of a grumbling, griping lot, (mainly about the weather!) but overall we love to do cosy things and we do enjoy relaxing and chilling.
The main problem in our society is that we are constantly busy. There is always so much to do we never seem to give ourselves a break. There is a huge focus on our use of technology and social media. Just think back to the last election in 2008, there were no Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat or even Ipad! When you register that, it makes you realise that some of the chill time we get we are spending on social media to catch up with what our friends are up to and family. That means we are spending less time on the simple things in life like lighting a candle and reading a book or playing board games. Unfortunately, it also means that we might be seeing less of our friends and family in real life. This is because we know what their lives are up to on social media and that we feel we have already caught up with our loved ones. Adding that little comment on a post or photo cannot be the same as having a hug and a cup of tea surely?
This is one of the reasons why me and my hubby bought our cabin by the sea. Because there is no live TV. We just take our favourite films and box sets. There is no WIFI. We don’t have any news on while there. We play board games, take walks down on the beach, light fires and toast marshmallows. Some of my greatest ideas in life have come from being there and getting away from the world for a while. I heard a quote recently that said “Getting offline is the new luxury we should all have” which I think is very true.
I do feel us British love a bit of Hygge though. We love to get in our pyjama’s and put our heating on. Everyone enjoys the Autumn and Winter programmes on our TV, plus we love to get cosy with our loved ones watching them. The likes of Poldark and the Antique Roadshow make me feel like the dark nights are amongst us. I am not the only one who adores fairy lights all year round, not just for Christmas. We are all loving baking even more with the British Bake Off. In fact, I have never seen so many baking enthusiasts as right now in this era. There are so many Hygge things we British folk like to do so I think we can be as good as the Dane’s at being happy. Maybe though we realise we need to focus more on the ‘best things in life are free’ philosophy, and have more technology free days at home.
Saying all this, I am still buying my family the little book for Christmas. Not because we can’t get cosy or enjoy our cake, but because it’s always good to be reminded why it’s important to focus on Hygge things. To focus on the simple pleasures in life that don’t have to cost very much at all.
I invited a couple of my close friends around for a Hygge morning. This entailed me baking Danish pastries and lighting lots of candles. My friends brought their fluffy slippers and we all relaxed, we talked a little bit about the book and Hygge plus we chatted about life and caught up. There was a few fairy lights up I tried to create a cosy chilling atmosphere in my home for everyone. Personally, I think everyone enjoyed it well I really hope they did. I made far too many cinnamon swirls and kept looking at them through the day. Then instead of eating anymore, I drove to a close friend who couldn’t make this morning and I gave the rest to her. Now that was a Hygge thing to do I am sure!
My personal top Hygge things I like.
Fairy Lights, chocolate, plants, my cat, cuddling her, and hearing her purr is so hygge! Films I can watch twenty times over and still love. Baking and making jam, I love to do that and give it to other people. Cooking with my music on. Drinking a nice bit of alcohol, mainly Gin or Red Wine. Looking at old photographs of my children and seeing how they have changed. Sat around at the dinner table with my family laughing about silly things. Seeing my friends I love, whether I saw them yesterday or a year ago, love to catch up. Cuddling up to my hubby laughing and joking about things that we think are funny. Giving my children a big hug. Watching my children do activities with their dad. Going to the cabin, listening to the sea in bed there. Walking on the beach any time of day. Picking up the perfect pebble. Taking a photograph you know you’re going to look back on with love. Reading a great book. Dancing to songs I love. Making my Christmas cake. Going to get our big tree for the festive season. Going out into the countryside and looking at the scenery. Everything to do with Interiors (what can I say!) Looking at different cabins all over the world. Seeing family who give you a feeling of love.
Maybe you could share your favourite hygge things you love too…….