How to Hygge: snug­gle in and em­brace the new­est win­ter trend

Wendyl Nis­sen em­braces the Dan­ish tra­di­tion of “hygge” – a life­style ap­proach to find­ing com­fort and en­joy­ment in the win­ter months.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

The short­est day has been and gone, but as win­ter keeps a firm grip on the weather, the prom­ise of spring seems far away. If you, like many, are al­ready over the cold days and long nights, it might be time for a change of ap­proach. It could be time to do like the Danes and dis­cover the joys of win­ter.

In New Zealand, we would re­fer to it as nest­ing or be­ing cosy, but in Den­mark it has a name – hygge. Pro­nounced “hoo-guh”, this word has no di­rect trans­la­tion from Dan­ish into English be­cause it’s one of those unique Scan­di­na­vian words used to de­scribe a state of be­ing that is unique to that coun­try.

The word hygge ac­tu­ally comes from a Nor­we­gian word mean­ing “well­be­ing” and first ap­peared in Dan­ish writ­ing in the 18th cen­tury. In short, to hygge is to take gen­uine plea­sure in mak­ing or­di­nary, ev­ery­day mo­ments more mean­ing­ful, beau­ti­ful or spe­cial. Words that have been of­fered up to de­scribe it are cosi­ness, charm, hap­pi­ness, con­tent­ed­ness, se­cu­rity, fa­mil­iar­ity, com­fort, re­as­sur­ance, kin­ship and sim­ple­ness. And writ­ers have at­tempted to de­scribe it as “the art of cre­at­ing in­ti­macy”, “cosi­ness of the soul” and “co­coa by can­dle­light”.

The CEO of Copen­hagen’s Hap­pi­ness Re­search In­sti­tute once wrote: “Hygge is in Dan­ish cul­tural DNA.” And in 2016, Den­mark was once again ranked No 1 in The World Hap­pi­ness Re­port. Danes work 37-hour weeks and have five weeks hol­i­day a year, but hygge is also thought to be a big fac­tor in cre­at­ing hap­pi­ness in their lives.

Last win­ter the hygge trend over­took Britain as the English looked north to find that the Danes had made an art out of sur­viv­ing their long dark win­ters by im­mers­ing them­selves in blan­kets, hot cho­co­late, wood fires and can­dle­light. In book­shops, guides to hygge started selling out and now hygge is sim­ply the must-have life­style for win­ter war­riors all over the world.

If you’d like to suc­cumb to the cold, rather than just com­plain­ing about it, and make your win­ter a bit hap­pier, then here is the de­fin­i­tive guide on how to hygge.

1 CRE­ATE A SANC­TU­ARY. Hygge is all about mood, so you need to make a space in your home where you can col­lapse into soft cush­ions and plush blan­kets. Try to use nat­u­ral fabrics, as the Scan­di­na­vians do – merino wool and cash­mere are good picks – and go for soft pas­tels such as pale blues, camel and creams, which all blend to­gether and have a re­lax­ing ef­fect. Co-or­di­nate these with a soft rug and pale wood cof­fee ta­ble all po­si­tioned around a fire­place. If you’re lucky enough to have a wood burner you are all set to hygge, but if you use a heater you can still make this the cosy cen­tre of your room.

Bring in el­e­ments of na­ture from out­side, with fresh flow­ers in jam jars and ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions made from bark, leaves, berries and pine cones or shells and drift­wood from the beach; and snap up some hand-thrown pot­tery at op shops to fin­ish off the con­nec­tion to na­ture. Who knows, you might even snaf­fle a valu­able col­lec­tor’s item in the process.

2 MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FIRE. It’s not just about keep­ing warm – it’s about cre­at­ing the hygge look. If you have a wood-burn­ing fire, make the most of it by stack­ing your logs side-on be­side it, show­ing off the cut edge of the wood. Ar­range bas­kets of pine cones and drip each cone with es­sen­tial oil to scent the room; when you throw one on the fire the scent will be in­ten­si­fied. See be­low for es­sen­tial oil sug­ges­tions. For spe­cial oc­ca­sions have twigs of rose­mary or other woody herbs to throw on the fire to give the room a lovely fra­grance as the herbs burn.

Get into the habit of hav­ing your fire stacked and ready to light when you leave the house in the morn­ing, so that when you walk in the door in the dark and cold it just takes a match to get it go­ing and warm the room.

3 GET INTO CAN­DLES. We all know that can­dle­light makes for a ro­man­tic at­mos­phere but the rea­son Danes are Europe’s big­gest con­sumers of can­dles, burn­ing through about 6kg per per­son ev­ery >>

year, is be­cause of hygge. Ev­ery Dan­ish house­hold has a stock of can­dles that is never al­lowed to run out. Once you light a can­dle, you are guar­an­teed in­stant hygge. Place them around your home – on the din­ner ta­ble, sur­round­ing the fire­place, on the cof­fee ta­ble. You can’t have too many – the more the bet­ter. And if you’re brav­ing the out­side be­cause per­haps you have an out­door fire, make sure you place lots of can­dles out there too.

4 USE ES­SEN­TIAL OILS. Make use of na­ture’s nat­u­ral oils to cre­ate a mood in your hygge haven. In­vest in an oil dif­fuser or sim­ply drip the oils onto a melt­ing can­dle. Good es­sen­tial oils to use are herb, spice and wood oils like san­dal­wood, cedar­wood, clove, cin­na­mon, laven­der, lemon balm or rose­mary. Use them on their own or mix some to­gether for a scent you like.

5 GET SOME DE­CENT SLIP­PERS OR AT LEAST A PAIR OF BIG WOOLLEN SOCKS. In Scan­di­navia peo­ple take off their out­door shoes when they get home and change into slip­pers at the front door, es­pe­cially very stylish ones made from felt. Have a look at Glerups and Ma­habis on­line to get an idea. Or you can sim­ply get a good pair of hand­made woollen socks just for your hygge feet or, best of all, knit your­self some “TV slip­pers” like Grandma made you when you were a kid. Get into the habit of chang­ing into them the minute you step in­side the front door to cre­ate in­stant hygge.

6 PY­JA­MAS, ONESIES, SHAWLS AND MORE SHAWLS. Py­ja­mas aren’t just for bed. To re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate hygge you must have the soft­est, most com­fort­able, cosy pair of py­ja­mas, loungewear or even onesies you can find. It’s best if they are made from 100 per cent nat­u­ral fabric and – here’s the se­cret – make sure they are a size too big so you have room to move. In­vest in two pairs so you al­ways have a clean pair to put on. Also make sure you have an invit­ing pile of colour co-or­di­nated, warm shawls and throws to be used for ex­tra cosi­ness and to of­fer to your vis­i­tors if they are a bit chilly.

7 LEARN HOW TO MAKE A PROPER HOT CHO­CO­LATE OR MULLED WINE. Once you are dressed, warm and cosy, and sit­ting in front of your sweet-smelling fire, you need a nice hot cup of some­thing sooth­ing to com­plete the mood. Hot cho­co­late will do it or a mug of spiced mulled wine or glogg, as it is called in Swe­den, served in a lovely pot­tery mug. For some­thing a bit more sub­stan­tial, think gin­ger cake, fon­due or pump­kin soup with home­made bread.

Hygge hot cho­co­late

This is a won­der­fully old-fash­ioned recipe from Europe that will bring a twin­kle to the eye of cho­co­late lovers. Be warned, this is a se­ri­ously rich drink, and it re­ally should take you at least 20 min­utes to con­sume, spoon­ful by de­li­cious spoon­ful. Per­fect for an af­ter­noon hygge ses­sion. 1 litre full-fat milk 100g brown sugar 100g co­coa pow­der 150ml crème frâiche 2 tsp nat­u­ral vanilla paste or ex­tract 1 Put the milk and sugar into a heavy­based saucepan and heat gen­tly un­til the sugar has dis­solved. Re­move from the heat and whisk in the co­coa pow­der and crème frâiche. Re­turn to a low heat and bring to a sim­mer, stir­ring. Sim­mer for about 10 min­utes, or un­til it is thick­ened. 2 Add the vanilla and whisk un­til frothy. Pour into mugs and en­joy!

Mulled wine

1 bot­tle strong, cheap red wine (a mer­lot is good) 6 cloves 1 stick cin­na­mon 1 vanilla pod 2 star anise pods peel of 1 or­ange ¼ tea­spoon ground nut­meg 2 bay leaves (prefer­ably fresh)

Make a batch of cin­na­mon rolls while the fire warms the room.

Put all the in­gre­di­ents in a pot and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low and sim­mer with the lid on for 10 min­utes. Be gen­tle. Serve in mugs.

8 START BAK­ING. There is noth­ing quite as hygge as the smell of freshly baked bread or, more tra­di­tion­ally, cin­na­mon rolls, so make a batch while the fire is warm­ing up the room.

9 WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU HYGGE. Tra­di­tion­ally you do noth­ing ex­cept stare at the flick­er­ing flames, sip your hot cho­co­late and talk to each other. Mo­bile de­vices are banned and don’t even think of watch­ing TV. That’s right, not even one of the pop­u­lar Scan­di­na­vian “Nordic noir” crime shows. It’s all about soak­ing up the at­mos­phere and shar­ing com­mu­nal cosy time. You can lis­ten to mu­sic and/or play board games with your friends. If you’re hav­ing a solo hygge ses­sion then curl­ing up on the sofa with a good book – prefer­ably a Scandi thriller by Stieg Lars­son or Jo Nesbo – is a great idea.

10 HYGGE HANDCRAFT. Part of the joy of hygge is get­ting back to ba­sics by mak­ing some­thing from scratch with your hands. Many peo­ple who are into hygge are also get­ting back into knit­ting and sewing com­fort­able hats, slip­pers or even a jumper over the win­ter. If you’re not a knit­ter, try some em­broi­dery, ta­pes­try or mend­ing. Cup warmer It’s im­por­tant to keep your drinks hot, so make this cup warmer out of a sock. Choose your mug, then mea­sure its height. Take a chunky sock and cut the sock at the an­kle, keep­ing the top sec­tion. Turn this sec­tion in­side out and hem at the top and bot­tom, en­sur­ing it is long enough to cover your mug. Turn right side out and care­fully cut a slit for the mug han­dle. Hem edges to pre­vent fray­ing and there you have it: a hygge mug warmer. Make a pot­tery mug can­dle Find a gor­geous old pot­tery mug ei­ther at an op shop or in the back of your cup­board. It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s a bit chipped. Get some or­di­nary white can­dles from the su­per­mar­ket and break them up into a bowl sit­ting in a saucepan of water over a gen­tle heat – like a dou­ble boiler. As the wax melts, gen­tly re­move the wicks and set to one side. When it is melted, sim­ply pour into your mug and then re-use a wick by ty­ing the top to a pen­cil and then slowly low­er­ing the wick into the cen­tre of the can­dle. Rest the pen­cil across the top of the cup to keep the wick straight un­til the wax sets. Or, if the wick is too small to re-use, sim­ply get a birth­day cake can­dle and plonk it in the mid­dle when the wax is al­most set. Do keep a close eye on the wax as it is melt­ing be­cause it can get very hot. Af­ter a few hours you may no­tice the cooled wax has left an in­den­ta­tion around the wick. Melt some of your left­over wax to top this up so that your can­dle burns evenly.

TV slip­pers pat­tern

For knit­ters, here is a pat­tern for TV slip­pers just like the ones that Grandma used to make:


2 balls dou­ble knit knit­ted to­gether on size 6 (4mm) nee­dles


Child: shoe size 10-2 Woman: shoe size 2-7 Man: shoe size 8-12

HOW TO Step 1:

Com­mence at cen­tre heel. Cast on 25 (33, 37) stitches. 1st row K (right/ridge side). 2nd row K9 (11, 12), P1, K5 (9, 11), P1, K9 (11, 12) (wrong/non-ridge side). Re­peat these 2 rows un­til work is slightly more than half de­sired length (by in­step).

Step 2: Mak­ing the toe

K2, then P1, K1 un­til 2 stitches re­main and K2 (on right/ridge side). K3, then P1, K1 un­til 2 stitches re­main and K2 (on wrong/non-ridge side).

Step 3: Work to end

Con­tinue in rib un­til slip­per mea­sures de­sired length.

Step 4: Fin­ish­ing

Break wool, thread through loops and draw up very tightly. Sew toe firmly. Sew up front seam to last row of garter stitch por­tion. Join back seam, draw­ing up seam slightly at base of heel.

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