It may seem we are a small fish in a small pond at times, but there is a whole ocean out there. We value how other people live across the world to learn from and perhaps incorporate into our well being. Especially with cultures and countries with deep roots of knowledge and wisdom. Denmark is one of those places. Anya, is a native Dane living in Copenhagen, with her 2 girls and her British partner. She started writing a journal to share Danish Hygge with us.
“Hygge is a concept close to my heart, something I have grown up with, and something I do with my children today.”
“Hygge (pronounced hue-gay) is all about slow living, embracing togetherness, simplicity, and the feeling of belonging and feeling safe. Hygge is a word many Danes use almost every day. It is a word that makes you know that something good is coming, something hyggeligt.”
“Hygge is about finding pleasure in the small things in life. Make the ordinary feel extraordinary. Hygge is buying fresh flowers for yourself, meeting a friend for a quick coffee, laying on the grass in the park taking it all in, visiting you Grandmother or simply lightening a few candles when you come home.”
“Hyyge comes into many areas of our lives: how we arrange our homes, how we cook, eat, socialize with friends and family, and how we enjoy the natural world.”
“If you have ever visited Denmark in the winter you’ll find that most people make an extra effort to make their homes cozy and inviting – hyggelige. Our winters are usually grey, cold and often very long, so creating a place with atmosphere and ambience is very important to the Danes.”
“We create some hygge with decorative items, but the most important part of hygge is being with others, feeling at ease, relaxing and being yourself. Saying that, it is also possible to have a hyggelig time on your own, with a good film, and a tub of ice cream!”
Here, I would like to share some of the things I know we do to create hygge. These are things that would work all year, and these can be easily achieved no matter where you live.
GET SOME CANDLES
- The Danes have an infatuation with candles. We burn them all the time, summer, winter, inside, outside, in shops, cafes even kindergartens and schools. We love a source of light and fairy lights, small lanterns and hurricane lamps are used to create the ambient hyggelige light we so adore.
- Giving something back is very hyggeligt. It can be as simple as popping next door, with a batch of something homemade, or bringing your grandmother her favourite magazine. Sit on the floor for hours playing old fashioned board games with the children, or visiting an older relative and spending time with them. Time is essentially the greatest gift you can give someone.
- Most Danes take pride in their homes. We spend a lot of our time indoors during the colder months, so we make sure the home is inviting and cosy – or hyggeligt!. Dress your home according to the season; In the winter, bring out the darker colour palette, and stock up on chunky knits, sheepskin blankets, soft cushions, woolly throws, all items that make it easier to cosy up on the sofa with a nice cup of tea and a good book. You can also make your home extra hyggeligt by bringing in seasonal foliage, flowers or branches.
- Most Danish families will eat dinner together, at the dining table. I don’t know many who have TV dinners here. It is hyggeligt to sit with your family, chatting about your day, and being together. A meal with friends, or dinner out, with candles, red wine and good food is also the epitome of hygge. Good company makes your evening hyggelig.
CLEAR YOUR MIND AND SOUL
- Even though we love cosying up inside during the winter, you will still find that people flock to parks and lakes, to go for a walk, and clear the mind, even though it is blistering cold outside. ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’ is a saying that many Danes swear by. Everyone is outdoors, even children at school and kindergartens have mandatory time outside every day, whether it is rain, snow or sunshine.