I’ve been hearing a lot about this Danish thing called Hygge. So on my recent little get-away to Florida to escape the cold, I checked out a book from the library called The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking and read it on the plane. Yep, in one little two-hour flight. Here are 10 things I learned.
My picture with bare feet and sunshine are not common to the Danish environment for the majority of the year but you’ll soon see it is very hyggelig!. Here are 10 things I learned about hygge.
1. Books are very hygge.
And this one ‘s size and feel are super awesome! It made me happy just to hold this small, pretty book – and that is hyggelig (hygge-like). It’s the same size as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Both have such a pleasant feel and spark joy when you hold them! The cover is pretty and the inside art is cute.
2. It’s pronounced Hue gah.
It kindof rhymes with cougar without the r, if you’re from Boston. Kindof.
Here’s a jazzy guy spending way too much time explaining it with a French lesson thrown in.
And here is an adorable Danish couple pronouncing it, many times, so you get it.
3. So what the heck is hygge?
It’s a feeling of coziness and friendship and happiness when things are warm and slow and natural – casual. It’s wearing a thick, soft sweater in front of a fire while wearing cozy socks, drinking a warm beverage and spending time with friends or family or reading a book while a stew is simmering on the stove. It’s about switching off – less cell phone and tv, more conversation and reading.
I would like to think book club is hygge but we may need to spend more time in socks.
Here is a some hygge from Gaff Interiors, who interviewed the author for design inspiration. Don’t you want to spend a lot of time there?!
4. Soft light is an essential element of hygge
Whether it is candlelight, firelight, or soft diffused lamplight, the right lighting is a very important part of the ambiance of hygge. Fireplaces are very important. The soft glow of the setting sun in my Florida picture with the book is just perfect!
Danes are apparently crazy about candles. I found these survey results really interesting.
5. Texture is key
Soft cozy blankets and cushions, animal skins, rugs, natural wood, ceramics and a warm drink, tactile elements make a hyggelig setting.
A Hyggekrog, which roughly translates as ‘a nook’, is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea. Then bring in nature. Danes feel the need to bring the entire forest inside. Any piece of nature you might find is likely to get the Hygge greenlight. Leaves, nuts, twigs etc. Basically, you want to think: How would a Viking squirrel furnish a living room? Then think tactile. A Hyggelig interior is not just about how things look, it is just as much about how things feel. Letting your fingers run across a wooden table, a warm ceramic cup is a distinctly different feeling from being in contact with something made from steel, glass or plastic.”
6. Dressing hygge is all about casual, minimalism and warmth,like soft, bulky sweaters and warm wool socks,
Oversized sweaters, cardigans, pajamas, and slippers. Wiking says Danes wear lots of black, and scarves. The Sarah Lund sweater from the Danish tv series The Killing (Forbrydelsen) is a great example of casual even at work; she’s a police detective. I have never seen The Killing but I like the sweater. It does look comfy cozy! The British call it a jumper. I don’t get it.
7. You need a warm beverage.
Live today like there is no coffee tomorrow.”
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate – the book has recipes for grogg and mulled wine – a hot drink is the number one thing Danes associate with Hygge.
Sweets make people happy and Danes love them. Pastries and baking are very hygge. I mean, come on, they have the Danish. Things that take a long time to cook are very hygge. The book has recipes for skibberlabskovs (skip-er-lap-scows) or skipper stew, boller karry (ball-r e cari) or Danish meatballs in curry and Snobrod (sno-broed) or twistbread. I’m telling you, this would make a great book club menu!
9. Danes are not the only ones who practice it.
Meik Wiking, the author, is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute based in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has spent years studying Danish life and what makes people happy. According to many studies, Denmark is the happiest country in the world.
Other countries have similar traditions and expressions. The word hygge originally came from a Norweigian word. Canadians call it hominess, The Dutch call it gezelligheid, and Germans talk of Gemutlichkeit. According to Wiking, it is different in Denmark because of its importance in culture and national identity. They talk about it often and the lanugage is rich when it comes to talking about it.
10. There are many books about it.
I created a list on Goodread’s Listopia with 55 books that have Hygge in the title. Here are a few I’m thinking of reading. They have pretty covers.
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
by Meik Wiking
Sweet T’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
It was an interesting concept to learn about and a super cute book!