It’s no secret that Americans are workaholics. We also have some inadequate stress-management techniques (drink, anyone?), but the Danes have figured out the perfect feel-good blueprint for home life: Hygge.
In Denmark, there exists a concept that, perhaps, cannot be translated. Hygge (HOO-gah) is a feeling or mood that comes from time spent with close friends and family, allowing us to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. In Danish, if something really gets the hygge going, it’s considered hyggelig or hyggeligt. Hot drinks, wool socks, slow food, deserts, and a beautiful, comfy space all get the oxytocin going and therefore, the hygge.
This is what you need to get your hygge going:
Hygge is best with a small group of close-knit friends and family. Just like birth, where we also want the oxytocin rolling, feeling very comfortable with the people we’re with is a necessity for good hygge. Some call it ‘socializing for introverts.’
Sugar: Nothing is truly hygge without cake. The Danes eat more than twice the sugar of the European average. It doesn’t have to be cake, but a baked treat (like a Danish!) or something else made from scratch — and sugar — is necessary.
Home cooking: Parents in Denmark leave work at 4pm, like clockwork. Everyone goes home to cook dinner. Slow food is the heart of hearth and home comfort. You may be making comfort food from scratch, but don’t slave away in the kitchen! That’s not hygge! Everyone lends a hand, everyone gets a chance to talk, and everyone is valuable.
If you have a fireplace, you know the kind of atmosphere it helps create. Light it! If not, candles are a necessary element of the warm, inviting space that builds social bonds and calm. An enormous number of candles are burned in Denmark.
Bring in some nature to enhance the hygge. A centerpiece with pinecones, rocks, and pretty leaves is nice. Perhaps you will find some fresh flowers, an attractive bough, or sprig of greenery to invoke the calm. Even wooden furniture, toys, and servingware helps bring a sense of being grounded.
Turn your phone off because hygge is about living in the moment and feeling very comfortable with what is right here, right now.
If you’re having a quiet hygge, you might read or write letters. You can work on your knitting while you sit and enjoy the company. Maybe you’ll all watch a heartwarming family film or romantic comedy. Talk. You can put on some music (vinyl is the most hygge, I’m told). You can also get out the photo albums, play board games, or make desert together.
Family life is the perfect set up for the perfect hygge evening.