The light of the northern sky has defined much of my life growing up in Toronto and in my current home in Berlin. As summer wanes and fades into autumn, days grow short and the evenings long. Time to light some candles and create a Hyggelig atmosphere. And forget trying to pronounce it if you’re not Danish . . .
Pronunciation aside, much has been written about Hyyge – a Danish word meaning a cosy and warm feeling of happiness and security, often, but not always, shared with your favourite people.
It’s been a popular design trend for a few years but what is Hygge?
Hygge is a state of mind that can be enjoyed all year round but comes into its own in the wintertime. Heartwarming natural lighting and materials and thoughtful and stylish decorations. Making the most of the seasons.
Hygge is also about contrasts. Coming into the warmth from the cold; chilling in front of a fire after a long day, being warm and dry after battling the elements to get home. Cold and warmth, tension and peace, distance and familiarity. A place to be, to quote the late Nick Drake.
Hygge is different things to different people. The fading days of fall and winter are a poetic backdrop in which to transform dark into light. Making a space or even just a corner, one of delight either for yourself, or to share with friends and family.
It’s when things come together. My mother, who grew up on the west coast of Sjealand in Denmark, said it’s a bit like the fairytale Goldilocks. Not too big and not too small – you know when it’s right.
Her fondest memory of Hygge takes place in the summers of her childhood when she, her brother, sister and parents would go to the beach and stay at the simple summer cabin my grandfather had built. The sea, the sand and the feeling of familiarity and togetherness.
Modern or rustic, cabins and cottages are the perfect metaphor for Hygge – it’s very much about disconnecting from technology and the world outside and reconnecting with what feels good. Having said that, watching a good movie with friends would fit right in.
So how to Hygge?
- A linen tablecloth and an oversized rustic wooden serving platter with tons of appetizers to share
- Add some candlelight, at any time of year
- Gather up some favourite books, coffee or tea and curl up on the sofa. A glass of wine wouldn’t go amiss either
- Turn on your favourite playlist and unwind with friends in front of a fire
There are no rules to Hygge. It’s a return to simple pleasures and joy in the everyday, whatever that means to you.