By Marianne Taylor
Visiting a friend recently I was introduced to a Scandinavian way of life called hygge (pronounced “HUE-gah”). Hygge is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming or special. My usual visit wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, just a convivial greeting from a friend, being welcomed with a hot cup of herbal tea in a cozy sunroom with the aromatic scent of lavender and bergamot surrounding me.
The word hygge comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being”. But it is also speculated that hygge might originate from the word hug. Hug comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means “to embrace.”
For those not familiar, “hygge” refers to the Danish lifestyle craze that’s seen something of an international hysteria of late, according to “What is hygge? How the Danish lifestyle trend became a Word of the Year” published in the Independent. A concept roughly described as a feeling of comfort and contentment, as well as indulging in all the good things and people in your life, the article reads. It’s one often connected to the idea that the Danes are the happiest people in the world, and that it’s “hygge” that provides the secret to their success, the article said.
The craze has focused largely on the idea of making the ordinary special, or meaningful, through ritualizing everyday activities such as making a cup of coffee or having dinner; that means putting technology to one side, and embracing simple practices such as lighting candles, purchasing flowers, or brewing real tea in china cups. It also boasts intimate settings and spaces either indoors or outside, simple decor, and plenty of comfort food. It is easy to cultivate a sense of peace where ever you are.
It’s easy to bring hygge to your everyday life. Here are ideas below to start your simplified routine.
You can create a personalized set-up using essential oils. These oils have a calming effect on the body:
- Ylang Ylang
Look for companies that source unsprayed or certified organic ingredients or that maintain membership in the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy to ensure high quality.
Soft Lighting: Indirect natural lighting from windows creates a warm and inviting setting to gather or meditate. Bright lights, glare and harsh fluorescent will squash a good mood. Use of fireplace, candles or low lights will produce room ambiance and cozy comfort.
Toasty Beverage: A hot cup of tea, coffee or hot cocoa is a delight no matter what season. It is instant comfort to the senses and opens up the opportunity for conversation or preparation for a quiet read.
Clothing: Anything cotton or knitted. Natural fibers are soft to the skin creating a hug feeling when worn. Sweatpants, knitted socks, or cotton throw around the shoulders provide the best comfort.
Food: Soups, warm baked goods or anything homemade produce warm feelings of goodwill, connectedness and love.
Outside room: Backyards are an ideal place to practice the art of hygge. Create an outdoor setting centered around patio furniture, container plantings and a grill or portable fireplace for instant results of a cozy room.
Have fun getting hygge with it!
Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, a 501(c)(3) teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin Native focuses on educating local families, special needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military.