Fact: the nights are getting darker.
Another fact: the mornings are, too. And the weather is getting colder, and it seems to be raining more often and, really, we should all admit that we’re on the fast and unstoppable road to winter. But while us Brits are moaning about it, there’s a thing or two we could learn about cultures who embrace it.
If you compare our climate with that of our Nordic cousins – Denmark, specifically – there really isn’t a huge difference. I live in Scotland and – remarkably - it rains more in Denmark than it does here. It gets colder than the UK and they get less daylight. If the UK was presented with this scenario we’d be thoroughly miserable, but not the Danes. The truth is it’s quite the contrary, with the country regularly topping the polls of the happiest place to live in the world. Why? Hygge.
The simple things in life
Hygge is a Danish phenomenon for which there is no direct translation in English, but basically means being cosy, enjoying the good things in life and spending time with the people you love. For some, it’s being wrapped up in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. For others, it’s a Sunday roast. For me, it’s sitting by the fire, listening to the crackle with a glass of red wine and some soothing music playing. There are so many things that create hygge, which largely depend on where you find your happy place. But there are a few things that will help you to achieve hygge and are essentials of this way of life. Let’s start with lighting.
Light up your life
Danes are fanatical about lighting and the warm glow of candlelight is a key feature of hygge. With so little daylight in Denmark in the latter months of the year, you would expect them to go LED-tastic. But no, they rely heavily on candles, which create that beautiful warm glow. To try this in your home, avoid overly-scented fancy candles, and simply go for lots of smaller, neutral-coloured candles and tealights. Dot these around your home to help create that lovely warm glow.
Lighting is a huge component of hygge. Avoid bright, harsh lighting and instead favour more lighting at a lower wattage to help create a cosy feel. 40 watt bulbs should do the trick and rather than go for white lighting, try something that has more of an amber glow.
Now that you’ve sorted your candles and lighting, you’ll need some throws to hand when you’re cuddled up on the sofa watching your candles flicker. Try to use natural materials, where you can and - if possible - invest in something really durable that will last the test of time in keeping you warm.
If you’ve been to Copenhagen you will have seen hygge everywhere. Such is its wonder, there have been numerous books written on the topic. My favourite one is by Meik Wiking, of the Happiness Institute. His Little Book of Hygge is so helpful for truly getting you into the mindset and even has some great recipes, too.
Now you know how to inject a little hygge into your life, all there is to do is embrace the things and people you love. After all, that’s exactly what hygge is about.
Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.