What is Hygge? What does it mean? How do you pronounce it? And why is the world going bananas over it?
Maybe you’ve seen it creep into your Pinterest feed. Maybe you’ve got a friend going Hygge-crazy and they’ve gotten you curious. Or maybe you just overheard two hipsters at the coffee shop raving about it over their triple venti soy no-foam lattes and wondered what you were missing out on.
Hygge is certainly taking the world by storm. But it’s also confusing a lot of people. I guess that’s what happens when you take a concept borne of a foreign culture and make it a widespread trend. Certain things get lost in translation.
Luckily, I’m here to clear some things up for you and introduce you to the true concept of Hygge.
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The Meaning of Hygge
Hygge is a Danish word used to identify a special cozy, satisfying feeling or moment. It is the enjoyment of a simple pleasure intentionally created or sought after for the purpose of focusing on something that will deliver a pleasant buzz and help you to find joy in living in that moment.
Basically, it’s a feeling. A really wholesome, wonderful feeling.
The part that confuses people is that they use the word Hygge to label everything from a chunky knit blanket to a dimly lit lamp to an overtly rustic basket of firewood in a home where there isn’t even a fireplace. But because Hygge is a feeling, things cannot “be” Hygge.
So a candle itself isn’t Hygge. But the feeling of lighting it, of placing it on the coffee table and sitting back to soak in the flickering candle light with a steaming cuppa is Hygge.
I hope that clears up the meaning of Hygge for you.
How To Pronounce “Hygge”
The pronunciation of the word Hygge is surprisingly controversial. It became a widespread belief that the correct pronunciation was “hoo-gah”. However, Hygge is actually pronounced “Hue-guh”.
The difference is subtle, but important. You don’t want to embarrass yourself by saying it wrong. If you were snuggled with your man on the couch under a fat, cozy blanket, lit by the slowly burning embers in the fireplace and a few tea light candles, sipping on hot chocolate from matching clay mugs, and you sighed, “Ah, so hoo-gah,” you would basically ruin the moment.
“That” Hygge Book
If you haven’t already gotten your hands on a copy of the ridiculously famous Hygge book yet, do yourself a favour and pick it up now. Honestly, just reading the opening paragraph had me salivating at the idea of those good, cosy feelings.
How To Experience The Hygge Lifestyle
Now that you understand the meaning of Hygge, you’re probably pretty keen to have it in your life. How you seek your Hygge is entirely up to you. There are many ways to achieve it. But to get you started, here are some of the popular elements to creating that awesome Hygge feeling…
1. Burn Candles
Scented or unscented, it doesn’t matter. The key here is a soft, warm, flickering light. If you’re not keen on inhaling candle smoke (yes, that’s a thing), sub in some little twinkle lights. They’re not as earthy but will bathe you in that same glow. Lamps also create a rather lovely vibe, especially if you still need enough light to read a well-worn favourite book.
2. Eat Comfort Food
What’s your favourite meal? What have you been craving? What did your Mum cook for you when you were sick, or bake for you to come home to after school? Cook it (or bribe your Mum to make it for you!), sit at a clean table in a candle-lit room, and enjoy every mouthful.
3. Wear Warm Clothing
Think soft over-sized sweaters, wool socks, chunky scarves and elastic-waisted sweat pants. Things you can bundle yourself up in and feel secure and comfortable. Don’t let the season deter you. It’s Winter somewhere.
4. Be With Loved Ones
Find people you genuinely want to spend time with (not those obligational catch-ups we all have to endure once in a while) and make a plan to be together. Eat a meal, or play some board games, or sit around a fire pit in someone’s yard toasting marshmallows. But put your phone down and let yourself relish the feeling of being in glorious human company.
5. Have A Hot Drink
Your favourite loose leaf tea, a creamy hot chocolate or a strong, milky cup of coffee can do wonders for your soul if enjoyed properly. I recommend using a favourite mug or special teacup. Years ago I committed to drinking my daily cuppa using one of the many teacups that I had collected over the years, instead of the plain old coffee mug I usually reached for. I didn’t even know I was actually practising Hygge!
There ain’t nothing Hygge about screens and buttons, so force yourself away from your devices. It will help you to be more present and engaged in the special moments you create.
7. Bury Yourself In A Blanket
Whether you’re spending an afternoon reading or an evening binge-watching your favourite box set (hello One Tree Hill!), a ridiculously cozy blanket is a must. Curl up, snuggle up, and let your mind be carried away by a captivating plot.
Bake for the sake of baking. Bake a loaf of bread and feel that soft dough in your hands as you knead it. Bake a batch of vanilla cupcakes and lick buttercream icing from your fingers. Bake your mum’s choc chip cookies and demolish half the tray while they’re still warm. Fill your home with that irresistable, sugary smell and indulge a little.
9. Open The Windows
If the weather is superb outside, let it fill your home. Natural light and a soft breeze fluttering the curtains will do wonders for your soul. Fresh air is also just really good for you. So inhale it whenever you possibly can!
10. Go Through Old (Printed) Photos
There’s something wonderful about picking up a stack of photos, holding them in your hands, and looking through them one by one. It’s a lot more satisfying than scrolling through them on a computer screen. So track down some of your old family photos or print off your digital photos you’ve been meaning to put into albums and spend some time enjoying them. We generally take photos of the things and moments in life that make us happy, so all those memories will butter up your soul.
11. Watch The Sunrise (Or Sunset)
It’s extremely peaceful to watch a new day light up in the sky, or to witness those last orange rays disappearing over the horizon. Find a spot with an uninterrupted view, sit quietly, and let it happen.
12. Get In The Bath
Whip up some epsom salts with essential oils, pour a glass of wine, grab your Kindle and get soaking. (If you haven’t got one already, pick up a wooden bath tray from Amazon – they’re affordable but add some fanciness to every bath.) Then dry off with a fluffy towel and wrap yourself in a soft robe.
If you don’t have a bath, which was my unfortunate situation for ten whole years in our last house, a shower can be just as amazing. I like to turn off the lights, sprinkle some epsom salts and a few drops of essential oils in the soap dish, turn the water up to scalding, and shower in the dark. I’m serious, you need to try this.
13. Keep A Gratitude Journal
Sometimes we need a gentle prompt to remind us to be grateful. At the beginning of this year I began to keep a journal listing 5 things I was grateful for each day. Not only does it keep me in a grateful mindset, but at bed time it forces me to stop, be present, and think about my whole day as I consider what has made me most grateful that day.
14. Get Outside
Nature and the great outdoors are an unmissable element when it comes to getting your Hygge on. All that fresh air and wide open space is so freaking good. I like to rug up and sit out in the backyard with Chris at night, looking at the stars, watching the dogs sniff around the garden, and really talking to each other. But the beach, the bush, the forest, or your Gran’s flower garden are equally wonderful places to spend time and be present.
If you’re someone who spends a lot of time indoors, bring nature to you with a couple of indoor plants. They’ll do you a world of good (unless you’re a black-thumbed plant killer like me. Then they will probably do the opposite.)
15. Find Out What Works For You
I could list a hundred suggestions but at the end of the day, the best way to seek out your Hygge is to work it out yourself. Next time you feel yourself gravitating toward the remote control of your trusty Apple TV for some R&R, pause and consider what else you could be doing, right now, that would have you a little bit more present. It’s almost a self care thing.
It may take a little bit of effort, but there is no way you’ll ever regret taking the time to pursue a little Hygge for your life.
And now you know the meaning of Hygge, and how to pronounce it, it sounds pretty great, right?
So go forth and find your Hygge. Tell your friends about Hygge. Because we all deserve that good good Hygge feeling.
(And buy that famous Hygge book because once you’ve read that, you’ll basically be in love)