Put the ket­tle on: hygge’s com­ing home

Laura Weir de­clares that it’s time for the Bri­tish to set aside the Scandi life­style clichés and re­claim our sea­sonal birthright, cosi­ness. So light a fire, dig out your fluffi­est socks and read on…

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - FEATURE -

Ican re­mem­ber the pre­cise mo­ment that I first iden­ti­fied a cosy feel­ing. It was the un­usu­ally cold win­ter of 1990 and I’d been sledg­ing with my dad in Green­wich Park, in south-east Lon­don. We came home, wet, frozen and rosy-cheeked, and sat in front of our log fire with a bowl of Heinz to­mato soup, dip­ping brown bread coated with mar­garine into its smooth, scar­let love­li­ness. The soup was steam­ing, the fire was crack­ling and I was slowly thaw­ing. That was cosy. And the soup wasn’t the only im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent – I was with my par­ents, and that re­as­sur­ing com­fort of be­ing with peo­ple you love is key. There was also the log fire, of course; it’s an al­chemic thing – we all know a stor­age heater just doesn’t kick out the same cosy vibe as crack­ling logs, de­spite them be­ing petrol-sta­tion­bought, rather than for­est-felled. I had been out in the wind and snow and had re­treated to warm up. That’s cosy too.

Years later, and I feel like re­treat­ing again. But this time it’s not from some­thing as nat­u­ral and as fleet­ing as the weather. I work in news­pa­pers and live in Lon­don. In my daily life, I am sur­rounded by noise and opin­ion, and over the past few years I have found my­self seek­ing com­fort from po­lit­i­cally dark win­ters and the re­lent­lessly bleak news cy­cle. My in­stinct has evolved and be­come an un­de­ni­able urge to hide away and find soli­tude. Rather than swipe and scroll my way through life, I want to feel pro­tected and nur­tured.

I don’t just want to drink a warm cup of tea, I want my emo­tional state to

mir­ror that of a cuppa too – warm, pre­dictable, re­as­sur­ing. Per­haps I’m just get­ting old, but I want to swap toxic pol­i­tics and the anx­i­eties in­duced by so­cial me­dia for re­li­a­bil­ity and kind­ness. I want to feel more cosy.

So I con­ceived the book Cosy, to share a few tools to soften the edges of life. It is a paean to re­treat­ing; a man­ual; a text that gives us all per­mis­sion to seek so­lace and com­fort in harsh times. Be­ing cosy is the an­ti­dote to what some­times feels like a brit­tle, cold world. It is a theme and a way of life that is univer­sal, and one that peo­ple are seek­ing out more than ever (the hash­tag #cosy has 4.4 mil­lion re­sults on In­sta­gram, while #cozy has 7.3mil­lion).

The phe­nom­e­non of hygge and its

con­cept of home­li­ness and tuck­ing our­selves in has al­ready piqued our in­ter­est, and al­though it pro­motes a beau­ti­ful cul­tural life­style, there is a cer­tain elitism at­tached to it now it’s been hi­jacked by hip­sters and in­te­rior de­sign mag­a­zines. The Bri­tish an­thro­pol­o­gist Richard Jenk­ins has de­scribed hygge as “nor­ma­tive to the point of be­ing close to co­er­cive”, and the ag­gres­sive way in which it has been mar­keted has di­luted the pleas­ant­ness, and its true mean­ing.

Whereas cosy... Well, cosy is the thing you do when no one is watch­ing. It’s not an im­age or a way of life, it’s knit­ted into the fab­ric of our won­der­ful, di­verse, eclec­tic, ec­cen­tric Bri­tish so­ci­ety, through ba­sic, quo­tid­ian plea­sures

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