Hygge: The Trick to Danish Happiness

hygge banner featuring a beautiful living room

What exactly is Hygge?

Hygge – Pronounced (‘hoo-ga’ or ‘hue-gah’) comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being”. It is quintessentially Danish and means the art of cherishing oneself and others. In short, hygge is sanity – and we can all certainly use some of that.

The Danes have known about it for years, which is why they consistently top the polls as the happiest nation on earth. Also along with many other Scandinavian countries. It is frequently argued that this is all down to ‘hygge’.

It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since.

According to the Danes, it’s a sensibility of warmth, togetherness, intimacy and well-being. It’s the embodiment of that feeling you get at Christmas time when everything has a magical glow about it. That feeling when everyone you love is gathered nearby, but applied year-round.

There is actually no direct translation for hygge. It’s broader than just having a good time and being cosy, it’s a mind-set and a way of life. It’s the art of creating a warm and inviting space for people to linger together, sharing of food, drink and conversations. Also, it’s the enjoyment one finds in curling up to a good book with a hot cup of tea.

Danish hygge believes that your overall happiness can be improved by making small changes to your everyday living space.

Hygge is subjective as it is the feeling of cosiness, but there are some common elements that help all people find their ‘hygge’. You can ‘hygge’ anywhere, anytime, just as long as you’re having a great time. We’ve put together a guide on how to introduce you to hygge and how to ensure your home and lifestyle is hygge friendly!

Cosy living room with a sense of hygge and a brown sofa with logs surrounding

Winter Hygge

Winter can be a long, dark season, especially when days are becoming shorter and the sun begins to set at 3pm. It is the time to get used to torrential rain, grey clouds and gale force, ice-cold wind.

Danish winters are particularly harsh, with temperatures being regularly below zero, with snow and rainfall battering the country.

But rather than moaning about the seasons like we love to do over here in the UK, the Danes have the perfect attitude. They transform their homes, outdoor activities, dinners and gatherings to have a warming sense of hygge in the wake of winter, making each moment special.

Introducing hygge into your home during winter can be simple. Snuggle up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, with candles lit everywhere or eat a good Sunday roast with friends and family.

While making sure to introduce hygge as a way of being, creating your home around the concept of hygge is important too. To make a home feel hyggelig (the adjective of hygge), there are a few things to do.

a white desk filled with a green book, burning candle, plant pot and white vase as a sense of hygge

Tips to Hygge in the home

Light some candles and cosy up!

Decorate your home with candles and lots of them! They’re an inexpensive way to instantly create hygge in your home. Set candles on your dining table, coffee tables, kitchen benches, bathrooms and window panes Moreover, they create a gorgeous, warm glow that can transform your mood and home.

Make a cosy corner with cushions and blankets

Add plush throw rugs to snuggle up with on your sofa or bed and enjoy the cosiness of comfort. Experiment with textures by using knitted cushions to add that comfy, chunky feel to your room. Burrow down into the blankets and listen to the wind whirling around outside the window while you stay cosy and warm.Ultimate hygge!

Update your interior with indoor plants

Indoor plants can work wonders, they will soften a room and help make it feel much more cosy. It’ll brighten your environment, and clean your air – for a helping hand to recreate that Scandinavian mountain air feel. For more on how to work plants into your home, check out our ultimate guide to indoor plants.

Have more than one source of light

Illuminate your room with hygge cosiness by using floor lamps, table lamps, candles and pendant lights. They work great together and create a warmer feel to a room, even string up some fairy lights for that added touch. Opt for bulbs or lampshades with an orangey feel to give a warm and inviting lighting look!

Rugs are great for another level of comfort and warmth

Rugs are an essential part of bringing a room together and giving a warm feel to an empty room. If you’ve got bare floorboards, tiles or linoleum – a rug will help stave off the cold and add hygge to your home.Also, a soft, shaggy floor rug will have you feeling hygge from head to toe.Feeling the thick and cosy rugs under your feet will create an instant feeling of cosiness and warmth.

Handmade products give a space a sense of homeliness

When you’re snuggling up with your mug full of hot chocolate, think of opting for handmade. Using mugs and accessories that are rustic and a little imperfect can add ‘hygge’. It’s a step to move away from the rigid ‘perfectionism’ that can make relaxing all the harder to do and create instant homeliness.

Light a fire, if you can!

If you don’t have the luxury of a warm fireplace and stacked firewood, try incorporating wooden furnishings and decorations to re-create the warm, earthy, natural feeling of a Nordic log cabin. If you can transfer the hygge to outside, then invest in a fire pit for that real fire warmth without having to construct a fireplace! It gives that beautiful wood smoke smell and can keep you warm in those chilly Autumn nights outside.

Hygge is family and friends

For the finishing touch, invite friends and family over for a relaxed dinner and discuss the small pleasures in life. A full house is the ultimate hygge element, full of warmth and joy. The phrase the more the merrier couldn’t be more apt when it comes to hygge.

hygge is presented in a large white room comprised of a light grey sofa, white rug, wooden table and other accent accessories

Summer Hygge

If you’re thinking that hygge seems to be synonymous with roaring fires, snuggly blankets and hot chocolate and you’re curious if it’s possible to experience hygge in the summer – the answer is YES! The Danes ‘hygger’ all year long.

Applicable to any time and space, hygge is relevant in both winter and summer (but the idea really comes alive in the harsh and bracing cold season Scandinavia is renowned for!)

In the summertime, the Danish go out for picnics and long walks, firing up the grill with friends and family. Anything outdoors that can make benefit the short Scandinavian summer is ideal, soaking up the sun while it’s here. It is all about doing things that will make you feel good and happy with the people you love.

The best summer ‘hygge’ activities are things like outdoor concerts, barbeques and bike rides. Going out with your kids or friends is the best way to add some hygge touches to your lifestyle.

In England, we tend to love to embrace the summer warmth when we get a glimpse of it.  Thinking of bike rides and picnics and hikes and away from a pub garden. Although pub gardens can create some hygge, choose the fresh air and countryside some time to reach that hygge feeling.

If you’re struggling to think, we’ve got the perfect activities to do today to start your journey to ultimate hygge!

hygge in a white king size bed with a breakfast wooden tray laid upon it and white bedside table next to it

Tips to embrace Hygge in your lifestyle

Give yourself an at-home spa day

If you don’t have the money to splurge on a proper spa day, spend a little time transforming your own bathroom into an at-home one you can pamper yourself in. Use a foot spa – or a washing up bowl filled with warm, soapy water – and give yourself a pedicure. Even bribe someone into giving you a massage! Also, even a facemask and an aromatherapy bath with some lavender and candles would do the trick.

Picnics in The Park

You don’t have to spend loads of money on specific picnic food — just grab some snacks from the pantry and an old blanket and go sit and enjoy nature at a favourite park. Hygge isn’t about the money, it’s about the company and making the most of your time! You could even spend some time homemaking a few bits with your kids for a properly hyggelig day.

Get More Sun

One of the leading causes of seasonal depression is lack of vitamin D – the vitamin you get from being exposed to the sun. Of course, it’s hard to see much of the sun if you’re inside working the entire time, so make the most of the time you have.When it’s sunny, get outside and read a book rather than inside, go for a stroll or eat al fresco.But make sure you always use sun cream, sunburns aren’t very hygge!

Barbeques with Friends

Enjoy a BBQ with the company of family and friends for a fun-filled day with your loved ones. There’s that special taste from the BBQ that you just can’t replicate, so get it cooking! Even if the sausages are a little more blackened than you wanted – hygge is about fun and friends! So, if you’re planning on hosting a BBQ here’s our infographic on how to plan the perfect BBQ.

Bike Rides

The true Scandinavian pastime, enjoy your city or a city you’re visiting from a fresh perspective. Fast enough to cover more ground than walking but slower than driving to really take in the sights – and just think of all that fresh air.

Camp in your garden

Use your own garden to pitch a tent, drag out a mattress and roast marshmallows. Hygge is about creating memories and embracing the wonderful outdoors! Play some games, stargaze and spend some quality time with your friends and family. But absolutely no judging if you sneak back into the house to sleep the rest of the night…

Host Brunch

Invite your friends over for a brunch with some fruity drinks and some Instagram-worthy poached eggs and avocado. Everyone loves a weekend lie in and beautiful brunch, so pull out your fancy tablecloth and treat yourself and your friends!

Outdoor Concerts or Street Festivals

A day full of concerts, food and fun will give you the opportunity to experience hygge in a fun loving and free spirited way. Enjoy having a carefree time listening to music and dancing with your friends to release your inner hygge.

A scaninavian style house with hygge and a warm fireplace

Hygge isn’t just a feeling we get when life is happy and bright. It’s a mindset we develop that helps us see the good when things don’t feel (or look) that way. It may not dismiss the difficulty of your current circumstances. However, it can help take away some of the heaviness and help your mindset to tackle your everyday issues.

So, wherever we find ourselves today, let’s determine to find joy and hope, wherever we are. Embrace life because life is always more gentle and warm when embraced.

How are you adding moments of hygge to your everyday?