A Danish term defined as a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
What is Hygge?
With no one word in English that translates directly there are several that can be used to describe the idea. Defined as a feeling or mood, the concept can be interpreted as a mental state rather than a physical one. Coziness, charm, contentedness, security, comfort, kinship and simplicity are all aspects of the intangible idea of hygge. It is the conscious ability, whether alone or in company, at home or out, in ordinary or extraordinary circumstances, to not just be present but to recognize and enjoy the present.
Not defined by time and space, hygge traverses both winter and summer but the idea comes alive in the harsh winters Scandinavia is renowned for. This bleak season demonstrates the power of hygge even further, as even in the depths of the country’s coldest months when there is very little daylight, Denmark’s inhabitants remain some the world’s happiest people.
The countless moments from putting on cashmere loungewear after a hot bath, to enjoying your morning coffee quietly with a fragrant scented candle lit nearby are just two of many examples of hygge. You can hygge with a good book curled up in a blanket on the sofa or with a glass of red wine with friends around the dinner table. Even places can be hyggeligt (hygge-like), demonstrating just how far the notion reaches.
Louisa Thomsen Brits, author of “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection,” calls it “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life” and “a cure for S.A.D.”
Since it broke out on to the main stage, hygge has become a global interior design trend with companies such as Ikea producing ranges to inspire consumers to embrace the concept and create their own hyggeligt spaces at home.
How to hygge
Although the concept of hygge comes from the more extreme climes of Denmark, hygge traverses the seasons and weather, so here in the Caribbean we can hygge too.
- Make the most of the warm evenings and enjoy spending quality time outdoors. Set up a soft seating area around candles or a fire pit and toast marshmallows with friends.
- Light clusters of candles and lanterns and hang fairy lights to create a warm and welcoming ambience.
- Choose natural and neutral furnishings with gray and biscuit tones. Layer with soft furnishings of different textures like knitted cushions, soft blankets and sheepskin rugs.
- Display items that hold sentiment. Photograph frames of fond memories and favorite books will instill a sense of nostalgic comfort that embodies the essence of hygge.
- Use the indoor plants trend to create a natural sanctuary and embrace the many benefits of surrounding yourself with greenery.
- Enjoy good company. Whether alone or with friends and family, the company you hold is key to creating hygge surroundings.