A steaming hot chocolate, a crackling fireside, cosy catch ups, walking on a frosty common bundled up in hats, scarfs and mittens  – these are all “hygge”.

Hygge is a Danish word to describe seeking out small pleasures that can help make the cold wintery months enjoyable. It’s a hearty, nourishing stew, it’s a sofa blanket. A cat sleeping on a bookshelf, woollen socks, a sticky toffee pudding.

There’s a similar word in German, ‘gemütlich’,  which means a feeling of cosiness, familiarity and wellbeing.

Marie Tourell Søderberg, who’s written a book on Hygge, says:

It’s a special atmosphere of a special moment. It’s where everything just falls into place. Where the company is right, where the temperature is right, where we feel comforted, safe, warm and happy.”

Or you could call it the Danish art of living well and staying cosy.

Hygge home

  • A real fire or wood-burning stove – substitute beeswax candles
  • A large, low hanging ceiling lamp with a dim bulb
  • Cheerful, cosy rugs
  • Curved, not angular, furniture, soft fabrics
  • Greenery indoors, the scent of cloves and sandalwood, a bowl of oranges
  • Favourite classic movies posters – thinking more ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Some Like It Hot’ than ‘The Incredible Hulk’!
  • Slippers for guests, if you can

For a hygge home it’s all about making your guests – and yourself – feel welcome and cosy when they step in out of the cold, and creating an atmosphere that’s inviting and inclusive, not just for the warm fuzzy glow of it but for the conversation and sharing of ideas that comes about when people gather together who feel relaxed and trustful with one another.

Hygge activities

Hearing about hygge for the first time this year struck a chord as I’ve been consciously thinking about ways to make the winter ‘nicer’ this year. So far I’d come up with making stews, using fir-scented bath powder and switching to chai tea in the mornings… but having done a little research on this most convivial topic, here are a few more ideas…

  • Wrapping presents (in advance… not at the last minute. That’s not hygge)
  • Making and hand-icing gingerbread
  • Going to a local bonfire and fireworks with friend
  • Filling a bird feeder with seeds, and watching the birds come to dine
  • Inviting friends round for a low key, relaxed home-cooked meal
  • Attending a wreath-making workshop
  • Having mulled wine after ice-skating

The Hello Nancy blog has some more hygge activity tips!

But what does ‘hygge’ actually mean?

The word ‘hygge’, pronounced he-yoo-gir, is an Old Norse word, and, according to Marie, was the feeling of finding shelter after a long day of being outside in the freezing cold.

In times and temperatures like this, we could all do with some coming in from the cold. Enjoy hygge whenever and wherever you can this winter!




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