Hygge. What is it? Where do you find it? How do I get some?
I came across the concept of Hygge a few months ago and, I must admit, I liked it a lot. Now it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but I wonder if it hasn’t become a little limited by becoming fashion’s current zeitgeist. Surely it’s more than an oversized jumper and snuggling up with your dog with a straight-from-the-oven cookie.
I turn to a few Danish friends for advice. We contemplate the pronunciation - “HOO-gah”; I test it out in my mouth, rolling it around for a while. They smile, seemingly a little bemused by the current hoo ha about Hygge and attempt to explain.
Hygge is the Danish art of enjoying the simple pleasures of life – it is an action, an emotion and a state of mind all at once. Oh, and you can’t have Hygge when you’re by yourself, you have to be with a family member or good, good friend. Objects can be associated with Hygge or hyggelig, they can provide the framework for the feeling, like a cosy living room, but an object itself cannot be Hygge no matter how high its cashmere content.
Clearly the onset of autumn and winter is the perfect time to attempt to master the art of the warm glow with friends and family. Even better news is that Hygge’s simple sense of mindful indulgence in the happiness of everyday enjoyment with friends and family can be practised all year round. There’s nothing flashy, or flash-in-the-pan, about Hygge and that’s precisely what makes it so appealing.
I was lucky enough recently to visit the beautiful city of Copenhagen with the wonderful playground of Tivoli Gardens at its centre, delicious open sandwiches (I could eat those miracles of savoury perfection all day), its fabulous urban restaurant scene and casually graceful houses. Filled with glorious looking humans calmly going about their everyday, I loved it. The Danes seemed to practise the art of Hygge effortlessly and simply which, I guess, is what it’s all about.
Here is my personal (in no particular order), not very Danish, Hygge manifesto:
- Friends – old, new, casual and those indelibly, irrevocably under your skin, troublesome, troubling and vital.
- Collecting pebbles on the beach as future momentos of beautiful days.
- An extraordinary book you can’t wait to tell others about.
- Candles (OK, I’ll give the magazines that one).
- A great meal out followed by a dangerous shot or two of grappa.
- Dark chocolate with sea salt. French butter studded with salt crystals; salt body scrub, sea air – in fact, almost anything to do with salt.
- The smell of green. Juicy and bursting with sap.
- Good manners - in particular, saying thank you and complimenting others.
- Marshmallows – who can fail to love something so soft and squashy?
- The pleasure of finding a really perfect gift – giving is so much better than receiving (of course an apron is a wondrous gift!).
- Cosy pyjamas after work.
- A wicked sense of humour and a full-on belly laugh.
- A really good cup of tea.
- Really, really great hugs – hugs of joy, cuddling hugs, the wild, abandoned hugs of children trying to crunch your bones, the life-saving hug of a friend, the tangled hugs of young love.
- Wisdom – from people both older and younger than you.
Do you hygge? Tell us below…