The holidays are done, and the house seems empty without the colourful decorations. The first of January is full of fresh starts and promises for the new year. Whether your resolutions are still fresh in your mind or freshly broken, most of us instinctively spend more time cocooned inside. Like us, the Danes suffer from long, cold winters and wet dreary days, yet each year they rank among the happiest people in the world.
Happiness as a tangible is considered important in Denmark, which boasts the first Happiness Research Institute. When asked a reason for their reported state of content, the Danes almost universally credit the concept of Hygge for their national sense of satisfaction. Hygge, (pronounced Hoo-gah), is a state of coziness and calm, which usually comprises ten elements: atmosphere, presence, pleasure, equality, gratitude, harmony, comfort, truce, togetherness, and shelter. Though that sounds like a daunting list, the actual attainment of a sense of Hygge is usually achieved with something as simple as having an excellent cup of coffee, by a fireplace or by candlelight, with a blanket and good book or surrounded by a few close friends.
Over the last few years, the notions associated with Hygge have travelled beyond the borders of Denmark, through a series of books, podcasts, television programs, and products designed to bring Hygge into anyone’s home. The library carries a number of books, physically and online, that will help transform your home into a source of comfort and calm.
Author Meik Wiking, who is also one of the founders of the Happiness Institute has written the bible of Hygge, The Little Book of Hygge and it’s accompanying volume, The Little Book of Lykke, (pronounced loo-ka), which is Danish for happiness. Wiking believes that the sense of hygge begins with the creation of a small personal hyggekrog (or cozy corner) and its hallmark is light, especially the low light typical of fireplaces, candles, and sunsets. Add textures that are soft and warm, like blankets, throw pillows and rugs. Pleasure can be found in warm beverages and the Danes are some of the world’s largest consumers of coffee and hot chocolate. Bringing the outside indoors is important, so pieces made of wood and natural fibers, as well as green, vibrant plants are common hygge fixtures. The peace found in your hyggekrog travels with you throughout your day, making you more comfortable, confident, and friendly.
The book, Joy of Hygge: How to bring everyday pleasure and Danish coziness into your life by Jonny Jackson and Elias Larsen, is a design manual aimed at North Americans. It looks at transforming any space from a small corner to an entire house into a hygge oasis. The book is packed with recipes, craft ideas, plus ways to spend more time with family and friends, and is accompanied by inspiring photography.
Signe Johansen, describes her book, How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life as a dose of healthy hedonism, and she filled this volume with ways of cherishing yourself and those you care about. Whether joining friends in the kitchen to share in the preparation of a meal, taking a walk-in nature to calm your soul, or arranging some beloved keepsakes to bring visual appeal and a sense of history with your past, this might be the book for you.
If you are looking for just a sample, we carry Hygge Knits by Nicki Trench, Scandikitchen Fika & Hygge: Comforting cakes and bakes from Scandinavia with love by Bronte Aurell, and Creative Folk Art and Beyond, a collection of hygge inspired projects; as well as other volumes on our shelves.
Hygge inspired or not, I wish you calm and coziness as we settle in for the winter.
Lori Kauzlarick – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you.