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Hygge: the gentle art of cosiness

03 June 2021
hygge coffee cosy indoors warm warmth
A warm drink in a cosy spot is a classic way to experience hygge. Image: Gaelle Marcel

As we officially move into winter, cold weather and current conditions will likely lead to a few more days inside than we’re used to. For some, this can present a challenge. But a cosy day inside can also recharge us, especially if we take the time to slow down and appreciate the comforting things in our life. In fact, Danish culture has perfected the art of a cosy day inside with a philosophy encapsulated in a single word: hygge.

Hygge (pronounced “hue-geh”) summarises the feeling of peace that comes from spending time in cosy comfort. Think candles, hot drinks, a thick blanket, or a fireplace casting an orange glow across the pages of your book. In Scandinavian countries, this is often accompanied by no small amount of heavy weather outside. Still, in late autumn and winter here in Australia, we can certainly relate to the sound of heavy rain rattling against a tin roof.

At its core, hygge is about the pleasure in the small moments of physical and emotional warmth. It’s all about giving thanks for what you have in the moment, taking the time to slow down and breathe, and appreciating how something as simple as a good book or a fireplace can hold your attention no matter what literal or metaphorical weather may be roaring outside. Hygge itself goes back to the roots of English; the origins of hygge are the same as the word “hug”.

candles comfy cosy hygge
Set the mood with some candles. Image: Sixteen Miles Out

And while hygge is certainly about hunkering down, it’s not about isolation or hibernation. It’s about balance, which also means getting outside and socialising when you have the opportunity. Set up those candles on a rainy day, but when the sun comes out, don’t forget to get some exercise and check in with your friends and family.

Here are some ways you can introduce a little hygge into your home for the cooler months – or whenever you need a bit of warm comfort.

Candles – Danish people use nearly six kilograms of candle wax a year per capita, perhaps because switching off your lights and getting cosy with some candles can be one of the easiest ways to bring hygge into your home. Try adding a few candles to the living room on a quiet afternoon or your bathroom during a warm bath. Be sure to put them on hard surfaces and clear some space around each candle before lighting it.

Hot drinks – When the cold arrives and you want to hunker down, it’s hard to go past a good hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or whatever other hot drink you prefer. We suggest changing into some comfy clothes and finding a spot by the window on a rainy day with a hot drink in hand. You’ll feel the hygge before you know it.

Fireplaces – For those with access to a fireplace, watching a mid-winter fire from ignition to embers can be one of life’s great pleasures. A fire is also the perfect background when enjoying other cosy pleasures such as a hot drink or a book. If you don’t have a fireplace, try lighting some candles and setting up some crackling fireplace audio found online to recreate the whole experience.

Music – Alternatively, you could try setting the mood with some soothing music, sounds of nature, an ambient café soundscape, or perhaps your favourite podcast or audiobook.

Reading – Whether it be a fictional escapade, a biography, or a newspaper, curling up in a cosy environment with something engaging to read can be one of the best ways to nurture that hygge feeling.

Blankets – No hygge day would be complete without a blanket wrapped around your shoulders or covering your feet on a cold day. Keep one (or more) handy!

There are also many smaller ways to bring a sense of hygge into your life when out and about. When out in cold weather, your favourite scarf and beanie combo can help you feel snug wherever you are. If you’re waiting in line for a coffee, try taking a moment to quietly appreciate the warmth and ambience of the café and the vibrancy of the people around you. Hygge is as much a state of mind as it is a feeling.

With everything going on this year and last, appreciating what we have and the comfort we can find in our homes can help us stay positive and find pleasure in whatever circumstances arise.

We could all use a little hygge.