A different take on being cooped up at home during this pandemic
Tucked at the corner of your warmly-lit room, covered by a thick flannel blanket, you hear the relaxed crackling of the fireplace, and by seeing your closest friends keeping each other company, you slowly sip hot cocoa from your favorite mug.
Pronounced as “hue-guh” or “hoo-ga,” by definition, Hygge is a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.
Its origin can be traced from Denmark. Despite the cold, dark, and gloomy weather, this Scandinavian country has been ranked as the happiest country in 2013 and 2016. It has been in the top five consistently ever since, according to the World Happiness Report by the United Nations.
In Denmark, Hygge is not just a trend but a lifestyle continued through generations.
With most of us still living in lockdown, one way or another, this Danish way of living is worth a try.
Here’s a short and inviting checklist.
- Set up your nook or as the Danish call it, Hyggekrog (hygge corner). Create a safe space for you and your loved ones to gather in and just be hyggelig. Search your house for furniture that are made of wood, look for shaggy rugs and blankets, and, if you have something vintage that was passed down, that would be perfect. You’re aiming for a rustic feel that invites both comfort and nostalgia. When life gets a bit too noisy, to the point that you can’t even hear our own thoughts, this is where you’ll find refuge.
- Warm lights. Preferably candles, scented or unscented, and have several of them scattered throughout the room. Why not try an Edison bulb and see if it fits your nook? String and fairy lights are also among the favorites. Whatever you might fancy, just make sure that it exhibits a dimmed, toned-down presence, as you want to create a warm atmosphere.
- Loungewear. Pull out that oversized knitted sweater, your favorite PJs, and wear those woolen socks your aunt gave you for Christmas. You can wear anything you want, as long as you feel comfortable in them to snuggle up and sink in that soft couch.
- Food. Here, the process is deeply important. It can start from the planning of your filling spread, to picking the very ingredients that you’ll use. If possible and if it is safe you, can invite your friends and bring their potlucks. Pastries, biscuits, and a home-cooked hearty meal is advised—try to recreate that creamy mushroom soup that your mom used to prepare for you when you were a kid. It’s about being mindful of every bit of detail. And yes, may it be hot cocoa or tea, having your comfort drink is a must.
If you can set this up with your friends and relatives, much better, have your preferred feel-good music playing while you’re at it. Be grateful for your relationships, with everyone and everything. This way of living helps amplify your sense of community. It helps you focus on the things that matter and provides you with the opportunity to reflect, breathe, and invite solitude.
To be candid, when I first encountered this idea, I was a tad bit contentious and daunted at the same time. For the former, there was a part in me that said that this might just be another taxing “how to” or a trend that might just die down after several months. With the latter, I hastily thought of it as something that would involve a strict, uptight method that will eventually hurt my pocket—a huge misconception. Hygge is something that you can incorporate into your daily life and, as the concept suggests, in a slow, calm, and mindful manner. It grants you the time for your our own little retreat, to tone down and be aware of the value of your headspace as well as your heartspace.
In this fast-paced present, it is not detrimental to give yourself the permission to pause and cherish the minuscule things, to let your guard down and savor every second that you spend with your family and friends, and to be grateful and celebrate life as it is.
Comfort, pleasure, and togetherness—this is what Hygge is all about.