Freshly-baked pastries, warm woollen blankets, cups of tea, open fireplaces, glasses of mulled wine and freshly picked flowers. If these are just a few of your favourite things, whether you love Sound of Music or not, you’ve probably been inadvertently practicing hygge.
While hygge isn’t a new word, it’s a popular Danish lifestyle trend that has recently gained prominence, and probably explains why the Danes are consistently named among the happiest people in the world.
The Oxford Dictionary nominated hygge as one of the words of 2016 (though it was ultimately beaten out by “post-truth” as the word of the year). The organisation defined it as, “the quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
Koala spoke to trend forecaster Britt Bivens, founder of Ace of Swords, and according to her, Hygge is, ”a Scandinavian concept of cosiness. It involves creating an environment that is comforting and reassuring. People create small rituals, either to enjoy alone or with friends, that bring charm and moments of happiness, especially in winter when it’s chilly and dark.”
“Familiarity – like making a cup of tea in your favourite mug or drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire wearing chunky, woollen socks is very Hygge, as is an intimate dinner with friends by candlelight. Simplicity over excessiveness is important to create feelings of intimacy and conviviality.”
Hygge’s popularity ties into our recent obsession with mindfulness, and our never-ending craving for simplicity and connection.
“Currently, due to the state of the world – one full of civil unrest and political uncertainty – we are in much need of Hygge. It’s no surprise that we see an increase in the sales of luxury bedding and home items, like scented candles and other accessories, that help create the Hygge feeling,” says Bivens. “Chunky knitted throws for beds or fluffy cushions on simple and ‘quietly’ designed furniture help keep the environment peaceful, as do the natural and subtle colours.
Some argue that Scandinavians have good cause to be among the happiest people in the world, thanks to free (or inexpensive) university education, social security, health care and paid family leave. Despite a high tax threshold, it could be argued that Scandinavians are able to appreciate the small hygge things in life, as bigger worries are taken care of.
At the end of the day, hygge is about finding different ways to relax and connect with people, and not being hard on yourself. Focus on what brings you joy, and hold a high appreciation for the creature comforts we often take for granted. We couldn’t agree more.