• 15 December 2016

Picture the scene – you’re snuggled up on a comfortable sofa, tucked under a warm cashmere blanket, sipping on hot cocoa as a fire crackles away merrily and rain patters against the window. The lights are low, your favourite album is spinning on the vinyl player and someone you love is busy whipping up a fragrant stew in the kitchen, having a leisurely glass of wine and humming along to the music…

That, right there, ladies and gentlemen, is Denmark’s biggest export since Lego and gripping TV dramas – a lifestyle philosophy called ‘Hygge’. There are many ways to explain the concept, but in short, it refers to a state of being that is free of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; allowing you to take pleasure from gentle, soothing things. Naturally, the notion of what constitutes this tranquil, cosy state will differ for every individual – for some it might be enjoying a slice of freshly baked cake and a steaming cup of coffee with a good friend, for others it might be unplugging the laptop to play a game of fireside Scrabble or backgammon with the family. In short – it’s about small, simple pleasures that are enjoyed thoroughly and without any feelings of guilt.

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The philosophy explained
It makes perfect sense that a lifestyle philosophy based on cosy, loving self care should come from Denmark. After all, they are consistently voted the world’s happiest nation despite the fact that they endure a frigid, icy-cold autumn and winter between September and March every year. And we don’t mean a bit of rain and a few miserable windy days – we mean full-on frozen fjords and dark, damp misery.

The notion of nurturing innate happiness by taking pleasure in small, everyday comforts is backed up by all sorts of science and psychology, and it seems the Danes cottoned on to this fact quite early on, which accounts for their happy, contented demeanour despite the country’s depression-inducing climate.

Top Tip: Here is a video explaining what Hygge is and how to pronounce it!  Because we know you’ll want to work it into conversation when you’re done reading here. However, if you struggle to wrap your tongue around it, don’t fret – it is said that hygge is one of those things that should be felt, not spelt.

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How to live more Danishly
Hygge is all about resting and nesting, which means living more Danishly in principle means slowing down and being a bit nicer to yourself. Here are a few ways to add a dash of hygge to your everyday life:

  • Spend time with people who make you happy. Studies have shown that community and a sense of belonging play a key role in longevity, so make a point of hooking up with family and friends who add positive energy to your life.
  • Cook and eat the things that make you happy. There is a lot to be said for a long, lingering meal that starts out in the kitchen and winds up with everyone semi-comatose on the couch. Whip out your favourite recipes, prepare it from scratch and enjoy it with an appreciative (and hungry) hoard these holidays.
  • Make your space a happy one. Again, this will mean something different from one person to the next. For you it might mean warm pools of light, soft blanket nests and cosy nooks, while for someone else it could mean open spaces, clean lines and oodles of indoor plants.
  • Spread good cheer. A happiness shared is a happiness multiplied – make a point of spreading good cheer and sharing your good fortune with those around you.

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Get your Hygge on in Copenhagen
The Danes do wintertime cosiness like no other nation on earth. If you want to experience hygge in situ in its country of origin, Copenhagen is the place to be, especially over the festive season when the entire city is strung with fairy lights, lit with candles and smelling of beakers of aromatic gløgg (mulled wine) that are sold by jolly, pink-cheeked vendors. Skål to hygge and good cheer!

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