Last Christmas was delightfully spent with extended family. Over twenty of us in all. Inclement weather forced an extra day of togetherness, which was actually welcomed. It was comfortable, friendly, warm, and exceptionally cozy, at times. Lots of laughter, games, sharing of stories, food and drink.
This was and is a perfect example of ‘hygge” (pronounced: HUE-gah), a Danish word for which there is no single word in English. Coziness is the closest we come. But it’s more than just the warmth and comfort of being wrapped up in a soft blanket, drinking hot chocolate by the fire. There’s a sense of calm and well-being bundled into it, too. Hygge was a new word for me, but from what little I have read about it, I am in love.
The word first appeared in the “Secret Santa”-type gift exchange we held with this boisterous group on Christmas Day. I was presented with a wrapped, but unmarked present. Inside was my first exposure to hygge in The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, a charming book by Meik Wiking. It’s full of beautiful photos of roaring fires, woolen socks, hot chocolate and mulled wine and gentle inspiration to put more hygge in your life. Perfect.
So, this may have been my first introduction, but I appear to be behind the times. Hygge is considered a lifestyle buzzword, is a popular search on Pinterest, has almost 1.7 million hashtags on Instagram and was short-listed by the Oxford dictionaries for 2016’s Word of the Year. And it appears that there were more than 20 books on hygge published in 2016! I must have been living under a rock for the past 12 months. How un-hygge of me! 😉
Christmas is naturally a big time for hygge hunting, with all the food, family, friends and fun. But it doesn’t have to be the only way. Hygge is well suited to solitary pleasures, as well. Light a few candles, make yourself a mug of tea and curl up with a good book. An intimate dinner with just the two of you or a few friends, that can be hygge, too. Even a backyard barbeque in the middle of July can be hygge. It’s all about taking pleasure in ordinary, everyday things. Joy and comfort can be found in the smallest details around you. Actually, I believe that you don’t even need any “thing” at all. Just allow yourself to be comfortable and enjoy – hygge can be all in your head, a state of mind. Your happy place.
To the Danes, living with hygge is just the way it is. It is their way of life. They live in it, with it and by it. It is the influencer of design and all manner of decisions. Hygge is very Danish. The Danish are known to be happy people, so, they must be doing something right. Right? I’m all in. How about you?
Are you ready to let the hygge flow? What’s your favourite hygge zone? Share your story in the comments below. We want to hear.
ps Meik Wiking has a new book out this year The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish search for the world’s happiest people. Really looking forward to that one, too.
Photo credit: Abby Kihano via Pexels