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…
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