It’s a dark and stormy night.Winter is drawing in but, as a student, you are reluctant to turn on the heating. You light a couple of candles (having checked whether this is ok in your tenancy agreement first) and nestle into the copious amounts of blankets piled on your bed. Slipper socks and cable knit scarf at the ready, you tuck in to your chai tea or whatever winter tipple you prefer – ideal. Lo and behold, without realising, you have channelled the concept of ‘hygge’.
Over the past few years, the ‘Scandi’ lifestyle has been on the rise. From simplistic, sleek and stylish interior design, clothing and accessories to TV dramas, such as The Killing, a love for Scandinavian culture has spread across Britain. It’s no wonder then that we’ve taken to another Danish concept – hygge.
So what is hygge? While there is no exact translation, I’ve taken it to be a concept about cosiness and warmth, dark evenings, knowing it’s cold outside but feeling smug as you’re snuggled inside by a fire and as many candles and fairy lights as you can find, mulled wine or a freshly brewed coffee, and cinnamon. Lots of cinnamon.
Then there are the aspects that go alongside this concept in the form of the vehicle you use and clothes you wear – for those interested, according to Dr Magnus Olsensen it’s a Volvo 200 series estate, made between 1974 and 1993, or a sturdy, upright bicycle with a basket. You get the picture? All of this, combined with the general feeling of conviviality and comfort sounds pretty idyllic and, after the confusion and chaos of 2016, it’s no wonder we Brits are turning to snuggle into this wonderfully cocooning comfort.
Hygge originates from Denmark, the number one country in the 2016 World Happiness Report rankings. While hygge is undeniably a part of this, there are other aspects of Danish life that contribute to their happiness and satisfaction. Taxes are high, it provides them with a strong social welfare and social security system, and universal healthcare and pensions. Add this to a cosy, firelit room and a cup of “glogg” (a favoured alcoholic beverage, rich with spices), and you can definitely see the appeal.
Having fallen pretty hard for the minimalist interiors, the climate, the food, and the general feeling of happiness offered by Denmark, Norway and Sweden, I found myself on the way to Copenhagen. Finally, having a January birthday paid off. Rather than worriedly checking the weather forecast for icy cold, rain and snow, on the contrary, we were looking forward to it. Lucky too, as that’s what we got – but no complaints here. I donned my warmest coat and woolly hat, found as many snug bakeries as physically possible and ate my body weight in cinnamon buns. A hygge experience I would recommend to anyone.
And what about back home? Well, plenty of bars, restaurants and other establishments have taken on the concept around Britain. Now that Christmas is definitely in sight, a feeling of hygge is becoming all the more visible.
So ditch your Starbucks Pumpkin Spice (blasphemy!) and find yourself a little independent number away from the hubbub of central Norwich. Maybe take a delightful stroll after dark, merely for the combined feeling of being cosy nosy when glimpsing warm light through cottage windows, and for the smug feeling you get when you arrive back and warm up over a cup of coffee. Perhaps add some cinnamon to whatever you put in the oven next so the delicious scent can waft around the house. Joking aside, hygge is a concept you’ll want to be part of this winter.