A few years back my family created the tradition of a Saturday night movie, hosted on those rare weekends when we are all together in our family home. We spread out over the couches and bean bags; blankets and rugs are passed around; someone makes a pot of tea; chocolate is handed out, and we sit back to watch a film together. I often forget the details of the film, but I always remember the activity with fondness.
Recently I have learnt that the Danes would call this Hygge, an event shared by a small group in a warm setting. A cosy family movie is a true hyggelig activity.
The Danes would be the first to admit that their climate is far from ideal. From March to November, the weather forces Danes to stay indoors. Nine months of the year spent inside is absurd to us sun-loving Aussies, yet somehow the Danes are ranked the happiest people in the world.
According to the Happiness Research Institute, a key contributor is hygge.
Hygge, pronounced hoo-ga or heurgh, loosely translates to “cosiness” or a “feeling of home”. Picture a warm, inviting setting making the indoors the ideal place to be. But hygge is more than just textures, light and a way of arranging things in a room, it is about connecting to the moment and the people around you.
Hygge is a feeling, not an action. Danes not only spend more time with their family and friends than any other European nation, but they are also are calmer and more at peace than their European counterparts. So how do they do it? The Danes create inviting hygge environments, generally indoors, that encourage people to relax and connect with one and other.
Hygge home ideas include:
The use of candles and lamps to form soothing pools of light;
Share relaxed homemade meals on open platters at informal tables;
Embrace cakes and sweets, enjoying life’s pleasures; and
Create cosy nooks around the home with blankets and pillows.
Merely thinking of cosy nooks, cinnamon buns and coco makes me feel relaxed and happy. However, given it doesn’t often snow in Melbourne the setting isn’t quite complete. Never the less, as an Australian with plenty of light and warm days I have still embraced the notion of hygge.
I have changed the way I use lights in my home, I hardly ever turn on our ceiling lights, preferancing table lamps and string lights. I also now light candles at mealtimes, not scented ones, but tea lights dotted around the room.
I have started baking more, taking pies and cookies to family and friends to share. While these are only small changes I have noticed a difference, I truly do love coming home to my cosy, now candle-lit home, and inviting other around to share.
As the weeks get cooler I will be sure to experiment more with the Danish way to live well; I don’t think I can go wrong following in the footsteps of the worlds happiest people.