Unless you have been under a rock for the past eleven months, you will be aware of hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), the fetish of 2016 that shows no signs of disappearing. Hygge is to this year what kale and moustaches were to 2015. Hygge, a Danish word, translates literally to ‘cosiness’ and is all about warmth, friendship, soul-soothing, clearing the mind. It’s basically Scandi for Zen.
This year, hygge was shortlisted for the OED’s Word of the Year 2016, where it was described as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).’ Search for #Hygge on instagram, and you will be drowned by a veritable tsunami of copycat photographs: perfectly manicured table settings, glowing open fires and colour-coded book shelves (yes, really).
The fact is, hygge is smug, annoying and one naturally distrusts it. But its principles of warmth, cosiness and lack of clutter is undeniably calming and alluring. It’s also hard to escape the fact that hygge and Christmas go together like Father Christmas and Rudolph. Want to have yourself a very hygge Christmas? Here’s how…
You are what you eat
Cinnamon buns, Danish pastries, hot chocolates and fondues (not altogether) are all British interpretations of hygge. A true hygge devotees would fix his keen eye upon organic ingredients and simple recipe. Vogue recently hailed a kale and pancetta tart as a hygge winner. A delicious sweet alternative is a winter apple layer cake. In fact, add ‘winter’ to almost anything edible and you can sell it as an archetypal hygge delicacy.
The Little Book of Hygge has been topping all sorts of mind, body and spirit bestseller lists since its publication in September. Written by Mark Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, the self-help book promises to help you become more hygge – further promising that when you feel hygge, you just know. It’s more than self-help, though, it’s a lifestyle guide, and will help you plan a hygge dinner party or knit hygge socks. An excellent stocking-filler for all those who need to declutter their minds this Christmas.
Burn baby burn
Candles and open fires are focal to hygge interiors. Fires are for display purposes, as are log piles, which must be neatly preened and symmetrically stocked. We all love a fire, and if you don’t have one, that doesn’t matter either – electric coal fires will do the job. As for candles, ensure that they are inoffensive on the eye. Fancy colours and patterns are verboten, which is good news for Jo Malone and Diptyque fans everywhere.
What are you wearing?
The average temperature in winter in Denmark is -2° C, so naturally, hygge is all about wrapping up warm and keeping the cold out. Big scarves, angora socks, cashmere jumpers and layering is all very hygge, but, as with your candles, don’t get overexcited and introduce splashes of colour. Hygge is about being calm and neutral, so stone shades, greys and beiges only.