Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Little Book of Hygge

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking (2016)

I've come a bit late to the hygge party, but now I might never leave. For the uninitiated, hygge is a Danish lifestyle/philosophy that celebrates coziness and togetherness and warmth. And according to Meik Wiking, CEO of The Happiness Research Institute and the author of this book - it's the reason why Danes are consistently found to be the happiest people in the world.

How does one achieve hygge? According to the book, some of the top things Danes associate with hygge are hot drinks, candles, fireplaces, Christmas, board games, sweets and cakes, cooking, and books. To make your home more hyggelig, Wiking suggests the following:
1. A hyggekrog (a cozy nook to sit in)
2. A fireplace
3. Candles
4. Things made out of wood
5. Nature (leaves, nuts, animal skins, etc.)
6. Books
7. Ceramic
8. Think tactile (have a variety of inviting textures)
9. Vintage
10. Blankets and cushions

If you want to see what this all looks like in practice, I recommend searching for hygge on Pinterest. I now have a hygge board where I'm saving all kinds of ideas to implement at home. The great thing about this is that unlike other design styles, hygge is cheap. (Well, the lamps recommended in this book to achieve the right levels of light are super expensive, but also not strictly necessary.) Anyone can buy candles and a snuggly blanket and make some tea and have friends over to cook together. Cooking simple comfort foods with friends is far more hyggelit than going out to a restaurant. Doing these cozy activities with others is one of the most important parts of hygge, the ideal group size apparently being 3-4 people. Small and casual is the name of the game.

This way of living is great to get you through the cold months, but it's not just for winter. Picnics, camping, and just lazing about on a warm summer day are also hygge. As is gardening, because it feeds into the idea of making things, another important element. Harvesting vegetables to cook or picking berries you'll later make into jam - with your friends, of course - are totally hyggelit. As is other crafting, like knitting. Warm sweaters and socks are essential elements and making them yourself is the height of hygge.

I'm not one for embracing trends, but now and then I find something that just works for me (like bullet journals!) and in this case, I've just found the name and specifics for something that I already wanted and didn't know how to get. For instance, I've walked into rooms and known that they felt like what I wanted to achieve at my house, but couldn't isolate the elements that made them feel that way. Now it all kind of clicks for me and I know exactly what to bring in to achieve the casual coziness I want. (Seriously, I am currently trying to buy an antique church pew.)

Needless to say this was a totally fun little book that I really enjoyed! The cover above is a slightly different edition. The cover and subtitle varies from my copy, but the cover art is so much better. On mine, there's just a teapot with candles on either side and that's it. There are many books about hygge that have been published recently and I've already grabbed another from the library and got on the wait list for a third. If you like Scandinavia or coziness, I do recommend checking this out!

Have you read this or other books on the topic? How do you hygge?

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