Imagine sitting in a cozy corner of your home with a bright rug, sipping hot coffee on a chilly rainy winter night in candlelight with close friends. How would you feel? Contended, glad, and relaxed, right? This is Hygge!
Search #hygge on Instagram and millions of peaceful pictures of comfy homes populate the screen.
The feeling of joy and serenity experienced is the heart of Hygge. This is not about any place or space but the solace of a sanctuary that helps to slow down and unwind.
Surbhi Singh, an Airforce wife, read about Hygge when her husband was posted in North India.
Her kids 6 and 10 years at that time would become restless staying inside the house. “The days were short and nights cold, dark and rainy.
Though we did socialize with the few families stationed there, it was challenging to keep two energetic kids entertained especially in the evening.”
She decided to try Hygge and created a corner. “Once I started decorating the space the kids were excited.”
Soon it became a routine “We spent some lovely evenings painting, journaling, and enjoying simple food with a few close friends”, Surbhi shares.
What History Says
Hygge a form of slow living practice originated in Denmark. The country ranks as one the happiest in the world. Apart from other factors, the happiness ranking is often credited to Hygge.
Pronounced as ‘Hu-Guh’, Hygge is not a Danish word but an old Norwegian word that infers to something like "well-being”. It appeared in Danish writing for the first time towards the end of the 18th century.
History says this concept was created by the Danes to keep away the gloom, and boredom of severe winters.
Denmark experiences darkness for about 17 hours in the depths of winter when the average temperatures hover around 0°C, forcing people to stay indoors.
Meik Wiking CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen says in his book The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living ,"Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world's and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”
Tips for Hygge
It is not about elaborate preparations but warm feelings. You don’t need to go to Denmark to experience Hygge.
Creating a Hygge corner in your house is fun and easy. The simple pleasure of sipping coffee in candlelight with friends can lift the spirts.
You need just a few things like candles, books, rugs, and cushions. Ideally, it should be near the fireplace to provide warmth. It is a low-key affair with no elaborate arrangements reducing the stress of socializing.
Connect with Friends
The Danes believe in the company of a few close friends or family members to spend time together.
The ideal number of people is only three or four. This close circle of togetherness fosters comfort, trust, and security.
Make it a Weekly Affair
An hour on Friday after work, or spending a Saturday afternoon baking cake, or having a Sunday dinner could be a few ideas you can try.
The emphasis is on home-cooked slow food and not about lavish parties The idea is to immerse in the experience of cooking and eating.
You are encouraged to visit a farmer’s market to buy vegetables by selecting them personally. Engaging with the process of cooking food from the beginning is a meditative experience.
Must for Hygge
· Home is the best place for Hygge. It is a space to spend time happily
· Candles are a must. The soft glow imparts a feeling of wellbeing and togetherness. The Danes love candle lights and find any light more than the temperature of sunset disturbing. Soft glowing lamps are a good option.
· Blankets, rugs or throws
· Plants and vintage chairs for an old-world charm
· A bookshelf/table with classics (recommended)
· Hot drinks tea, coffee, soup
· Simple food according to your preference
Hygge is about savouring and stealing a few precious moments from our busy lives. It fosters bonding, trust, and connection. Start with a simple plan.
Hygge shouldn’t become another task on your to-do list but a time to unwind, share and associate with family and close friends.
The impact of this simple practice will amaze you. As Surbhi shares “Today, my kids are grown up, but we remember the Hygge evenings with fondness.”
The family treasures Hygge memories that are conversation pieces at family get-togethers. “Do try Hygge”, she recommends.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)
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