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Ten Top Tips to Add Hygge to Your Life

 

  1. Light a candle. According to the European Candle Association Danes burn more candles per capita than any other nation, nicely offsetting the 179 days of rainfall they get annually. That’s about six kilos of candle wax a year, compared to the three kilos of bacon each Dane consumes.

    Yes, we know it sounds cliched, but there is nothing like the warmth and friendly glow of a lit candle to add a little magic to a room. Turn the lights down to maximise the effect, as the lower the light, the greater the hygge (on any city break I will spend the first hour dragging my lucky companion round ten different bars and restaurants to find the one with the dimmest bulbs before I make a decision).

    The brightness of light bulbs is measured by colour temperature, using the Kelvin scale from 1,000 to 10,000 degrees K. Typically residential and commercial lighting falls somewhere on the scale from 2000K to 6500K, but as Meik Wiking in his “Little Book of Hygge” points out, woods fires, sunsets and candles are all about 1800 Kelvin of light so that’s what you are aiming for. A couple of pools of light from table lamps will work far better than one overhead pendant.

 

  1. Snuggle. Imagine it’s raining cats and dogs, you’re cold in your bones and it feels like the world has been grey for weeks. Now is the time to put on that big cashmere jumper and those socks that make your feet feel like they are being hugged by baby mice, along with a MASSIVE scarf. Make a hot drink (warm beverages served in a special mug are very important to feeling hyggelig. It won’t work in a mug that came free from a sports shop, preferably you should have one handcrafted by a local artisan potter featuring wolves and fir trees). Turn your phone off, grab a book and roll up on the sofa with a blanket; if you fall asleep the hygge has definitely worked.

  2. Share. Yes, you can have hygge on your own and take pleasure in your own company, but there is a social aspect which is very important to the Danes. Danes tend to socialise in small groups of friends and family, and these cliques can be quite hard to crack as an outsider. However once you’re in, you’re in, and you will find the best of company. Invite a couple of friends round for a board game and an easy supper. Serve cheese, biscuits, home-made chutney and some beer, or some glogg and aeblskiver (pancake balls). Failing that, a multipack of Frazzles.

  3. This bring us neatly onto the subject of food. Think carbs and sweet stuff and make sure you treat yourself to that bun you fancy if you want a Nordic lifestyle. Danes eat a massive amount of cake and sweeties; according to one report by 2018 Danes will have the highest consumption of confectionary at 8.5 kilos per capita, compared with the European average of 4.1 kilos. In Scandinavian cuisine there is also a huge emphasis on butter, cheese, fish, huge pots of stew to warm your tummy and then more cake. Knock up a quick apple tart and feel the love.

  1. Linger. Danes do not like to rush, particularly when it comes to eating and drinking. I went for a family lunch recently that started at 11.30am with the most beautiful smorrebrod and schnapps and finished about eight hours later, with course after course being punctuated with dice games and drinking toasts. Nobody was particularly over-inebriated as the constant arrival of herring and roast pork mitigated the aquavit, but the sense of relaxation and well-being was wonderful. And yes, I fell asleep by mistake on the sofa. Proper hyggelig.

  1. Hygge is about indulgence, but not extravagance or waste. It is far better to have one very beautiful cream cake than four cheap ones. Savour every little bite. Likewise it isn’t necessary to ram your home full of wrought iron reindeer and fur cushions to make it hyggelig; a few beautifully chosen pieces need space around them so they can be appreciated for their design.

  2. Dress like a Dane. If you are a girl the messier your hair the better. Always wear a massive scarf and skinny jeans (both sexes), and if you are feeling adventurous spice up your black outfit with a touch of grey.

  1. Crafts are proper hyggelig. Knitting in particular is good as you can cosy up and watch Borgen at the same time as being productive, whereas a weekend course in pyrography involves more planning. If you are put off by the memory of massive tangled nightmares when making those mittens at primary school you might find crochet a great alternative; as you only have one needle there is no way you can drop a stitch, and if you make a mistake it is obvious straight away.

  2. Get out into the fresh air. Find a cold beach and have a winter picnic with a disposable barbecue and a packet of sausages from the petrol station. Everything tastes better outdoors, even if the meat content is questionable. Make sure you are well wrapped up, as the Danes say …. , (there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing).

  1. While you are wandering about in the great outdoors feeling healthy, have a go at foraging. All seasons have their culinary highlights; we make elderflower cordial in spring, nettle tea when they first send up their tiny green shoots, and hedgerow jam and apple chutney every autumn. It rarely gets eaten but the sight of a shiny jar filled with red home-made glossy jam and a gingham hat brings joy to the jaded soul. And you can give it away to that neighbour with the noisy cat two doors down at Christmas.

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