My wife grew up in Denmark and she loves to hygge. The word hygge officially became part of the English dictionary a few years ago. While difficult and almost untranslatable, it has been described as “cosiness for the soul”. It can be intangible and abstract, but hygge also uses all of our senses. While any season during the year is a good time, the dark and cold winter months seem a natural time to engage in a bit of hygge.
This year, in particular, hygge seems more important than ever. Our need for restorative time alone, together and with loved ones is good for the soul. For my wife, the concepts of experiencing and creating hygge come naturally. I am still learning to appreciate the full meaning.
She often tells me: “It is a state of mind”. It is about being content, savouring the moment and appreciating the simple things and pleasures in life.
Meik Wiking has written “The Little Book of Hygge “. In it, he describes the Hygge Manifesto dividing it into 10 categories. To keep things simple, I will mention only a few, hoping it will encourage you to take a hygge break during this busy, dark and cold season.
Atmosphere: Lighting is important. A soft glow from warm lights is preferable. Smaller lamps are better than one stark overhead light. Gone are the days of fluorescent lighting. By all means, light a candle. Dinner with candles, conversations in the living room or a special nook somewhere with candlelight are integral parts of creating and setting the stage for a relaxing and cosy atmosphere.
Comfort: Get comfy and relax. Put on your favourite comfy clothes and warm socks. Curl up in a chair or sofa with a blanket and a good book on a cold evening. Watch a good movie or listen to music you love. Basically – take a break and savour the present moment. Hygge is a feeling! It is not something you can buy – it is felt.
Pleasure: Hygge is also a celebration of sensory experiences. Enjoying food with loved ones is high on the priority list. Not just eating it, but also preparing it, like baking a cake with your children. The smell of food cooking and delicious baked goods in the oven all contribute to hygge.
Meik Wiking did a survey of what Danes associate most with hygge:
Number one was a hot drink like tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
Number two was a candle
Number three was a fireplace. Then board games, music, food and so on.
This is certainly true for my wife. She just loves hot chocolate and cake, candles and books.
This winter holiday I hope you will get a chance to hygge and give gratitude for the small things that makes a difference. Spreading joy and comfort for those in need is part of that. Like last year, I encourage you to call a long-lost friend and call or write to family and friends far away.