The smell of a good meal. Candles and fairy lights twinkling by a roaring fire. A glass of red wine or mugs of hot chocolate shared over baked apple pie with friends. Soft, warm blankets, fluffy pillows and cotton pyjamas. Surrounding yourself with things and people you love. Sounds good? … welcome to the latest wellness trend sweeping the globe – hygge.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) originated in Denmark years ago, but is suddenly everywhere; books on how to hygge are jostling for space on Amazon while beauty, fashion, and interior design websites are all going hygge.
The joyous thing about hygge is that there are no rules – it’s all about savouring the moment, relaxing and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. It’s about feeling comfortable in your clothes, rather than how you look. And, it’s a slower-paced way of simply being, compared to the frenetic 24/7 lives that we have all suddenly found ourselves living.
As translator ToveMaren Stakkestad explains, “Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.”
Danish anthropologist Jeppe Trolle Linnet says that if a social event is hygge then it’s a given that, “no one will discuss opposite opinions about politics, economic development or raising children.” In other words, they get together, enjoy food, drinks and the moment, all while forgetting about the stresses of the wider world – free from arguments about politics or cultural differences.
With 2016 being such a strange and stressful year for many, it’s no surprise that all of us are suddenly embracing hygge: “The rest of the world seems to be slowly waking up to what Danes have been wise to for generations – that having a relaxed, cosy time with friends and family, often with coffee, cake or beer, can be good for the soul,” says Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country.
With the festive season around the corner, instead of sitting at home and gloomily wishing away the winter months, maybe it’s time to take a lesson in how to live from our Danish cousins; rip up the rule book, invite some good friends over, light some twinkly candles, dim the lights so everyone is bathed in a warm glow and, be happy.
Perhaps the art of happiness is far simpler than any of us ever realised.