The Danish Art of 'Hygge'

It doesn't matter where you live around the world, winter is a great time to enjoy your home and get cosy with the people that you love. The Danish people are so enamoured with the concept of cosiness that they have their own term for it - hygge. Defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” this word describes the simple pleasures that can make the winter period so satisfying.  

Hygge was short-listed for the Oxford Dictionaries’ “word of the year” in 2016, along with less cosy neologisms such as "alt-right" and the winning term "post-truth". Recognition by Oxford came after the publication of multiple books, including "How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life” by Signe Johansen and “The

Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection" by Louisa Thomsen Brits. Hygge is a versatile word that can be used as a noun, an adjective, or a verb, with this wholesome and nourishing term able to describe a warm cinnamon bun, a home sauna, or even a comfy pair of socks by the fire. 

Winter is definitely the best time for people to appreciate the small and comforting things in life, with expansive outdoor experiences swapped for intimate details and simple home comforts. There are lots of things you can do to make your home more hygge, such as lighting candles, throwing rugs and cushions around, and cooking warm winter treats for friends and family members. While hygge is a large concept that transcends the domestic sphere, it is most at home in the warm glow of candlelight that illuminates intimate late-night conversations.

You can enhance the hygge in your home by paying attention to the things that provide comfort and creating spaces that allow intimacy. For example, a new tea set can inspire deep conversation, a shaggy rug can make your home more comfortable, and mood lighting can make everything feel softer and warmer. If you're involved in a renovation project or building from scratch, hygge spaces can be made through warm natural textures, diffused natural lighting, and small well-defined spaces.

Because comfort is so central to hygge, it's also important to pay close attention to heating and cooling solutions and how they impact lifestyle choices.  

It's important to recognise that hygge is about experiences as well as things, with a nice hot bath or long baking session also capable of defining the hygge ideal. The art of creating intimacy is central to hygge, so think about English words such as cosiness, charm, happiness, contentment, security, comfort, reassurance, simplicity, and friendship. In many ways, hygge is similar to the concept of mindfulness, with people becoming hyggeligt by being present in the moment and recognising the small things that make life special. It almost doesn't matter what you're doing or where you are, hygge means being aware of a good moment and creating a ritual to define it.

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