By Raegan Rubin
Described as “the art of creating intimacy” by Hygge guru and CEO of Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute Meik Wiking, Hygge is the Danish philosophy of happiness.
Known for being one of the happiest countries in the world, Denmark’s creed of self-love, ambience and good food are more relevant now than ever.
A dark cloud seemed to stretch across the globe this summer and our mental health took its toll as we enviously observed the world go by from the safety of our bedrooms. Mid-August was a particularly dark moment for me as I flew to London from Prague and transitioned from living with no restrictions to complete isolation.
Despite being encased within the four walls of my grandparents’ loft, I found solace in Hygge. Instead of nervously biting my nails and obsessing over Netflix for two weeks, I spent my time reading a couple of Haruki Murakami novels, eating tonnes of strawberries and drinking copious mugs of tea, all from the safety of my Hyggekrog (Hygge space).
Hygge was first introduced to me on a Wednesday afternoon by a Czech bookstore assistant, who directed me to The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. Purchasing the book, I then hastened to the nearest cafe, melted into a purple velvet armchair and proceeded to read.
After an hour, I left the cafe and strolled purposefully down Prague’s cobbled roads and towards Old Charles Square, the heels of my shoes tip-tapping one phrase against the pavement: “must buy candles.”
Vendors lined the streets selling Prague’s traditional Trdelniks (chimney cakes) and shop windows seemed to glisten with specks of cinnamon sugar, as I entered the local homeware store to buy a medium-sized vanilla scented candle.
Later that evening, I sat in the bedroom of a low-rent hostel found on Airbnb and sipped a glass of red wine, idly watching the flame of my candle flicker. Perched on the windowsill, the candle’s smoke rose in the air and waltzed to notes of jazz and laughter emerging from the neighboring bars and restaurants.
That was the moment my Hygge life began.
What is Hygge?
Pronounced “hooga,” Hygge is the concept of slow appreciative living that prioritizes relationships and simplicity above extravagance and individual gain. In short, Hygge is the celebration of being cozy and content.
According to author Meik Wiking, Denmark has earned its notoriety as the “Scandinavian Winterfell” due to its cold climate and lack of sunshine. Investments in Gezelligheid (cozy things) such as blankets and fireplaces are therefore necessary to nullify the gloom of such dismal weather.
In Denmark, Gezellig (cozy) bars and cafes are defined by the warm glow of their candles, modest interiors, organic surfaces and generosity when serving desserts.
An “easy way of socializing for introverts,” Hygge derives its novelty from a love of casual and rustic elements.
Instead of eating out, family and friends would dine together at home. Rather than working late or on the weekends, employees would leave the office at 5:30 and devote the evening to family and food.
Hygge and Covid-19
By implementing the thoughtful principles of Hygge however, I managed to enrich my life and feel more present without the assistance of a yoga mat or meditation sequence.
Listed below are my Hygge top tips:
- Reserving a pocket of time each day to re-establish your relationship with the home via food and furniture blogs is an easy way to introduce Hygge into your home.
- Consuming carefully by not simply buying for the sake of it and saving up for or achieving a personal goal before you purchase something, subverts the need for immediacy and extravagance.
- Creating a Hygge emergency kit is another gateway to casual happiness. A shoebox filled with chocolates, candles and your favourite films can mean the difference between a dull evening on the couch and a Hygge night in your Hyggekrog.
The Hygge emergency kit
The optimum Hygge experience can be achieved via warm lighting, natural textiles, indulgence and the heavenly aromas of burning incense and scented tealights.
Listed below are some suggestions for your Hygge emergency kit and my top sustainable brands to buy them from.
Candles and scents
To create a truly Hyggelig household, warm lighting and aromatic fragrances are essential.
A contemporary lifestyle brand, Auli focuses on function and aesthetics to create collections of natural candles, room sprays and diffusers that enrich your living space. All fragrances are produced using natural ingredients free from parabens, phthalates and synthetic colours.
You can buy from Auli here.
Natural home deco
There is nothing more Hyggelig than bringing the organic textures of nature into the home.
Eesome is an online second-hand store offering collections of carefully curated homeware items for the conscious consumer.
“As people are becoming more conscious of the way we live and how it affects the world around us, Eesome offers an alternative to shopping mass-produced, with no compromise on price, and often with an improvement in quality.” -Eesome
You can buy from Eesome here.
Made With Love by Natalia
Made With Love by Natalia is a sustainable brand selling vintage craft products homemade by Natalia.
“My strings, glue, drift wood, flowers, scissor and pebbles make me the craft aficionado that I am. From me to you. Made with love. From nature.” -Natalia
You can buy from Made With Love by Natalia here.
Beni Rugs combines ancient Berber weaving techniques with modern design perspectives when creating their Moroccan rugs. Design inspiration ranges from natural forms and abstract modern art paintings, to traditional zelig tile patterns and the breathtaking landscapes of the Atlas Mountains.
You can buy from Beni Rugs here.
Although the practices and benefits of Hygge seem obvious, their prominence in the Danish way of life has established a lore of wellbeing that transforms the trials of the day from bearable to rewarding.
As the road of life twists and turns, Hygge enables us to navigate our way with some accuracy.
By embracing Hygge, we can become more appreciative and understanding of what makes us smile and generate a far more enjoyable journey.