Blue Monday, typically the third Monday of January, is considered to be the most depressing day of the year for countries in the Northern Hemisphere. But despite living in darkness for 17 hours every day in the deep of winter, the Danes are the happiest people on Earth! Just how do they do it..?
While it might be tempting to hide from the cold and hibernate until Spring, the beautiful Danish concept of Hygge (pronounced Hue-gah) should lift your spirits! There’s no direct translation into English but Hygge is generally a concerted effort to create a mood, atmosphere and feeling of contentedness, comfort, cosiness and connection. It’s often shared with friends and family but you can also do it on your own. It’s more than eating comfort food, drinking wine in front of the fire and binge watching Netflix while cuddling the cat… but that’s definitely Hygge too! It is more of a mental state, a continuous attitude towards life rather than something forced – making an effort to see the beauty and meaning in the ordinary, cultivating a sense of togetherness and making your soul cosy. Enjoy life’s little rituals – making a cup of tea? Make a beautiful pot of tea instead and share it with someone. That’s Hygge! Going to the park on a sunny day? Take friends and a picnic – that’s Hygge too! It’s living a mindful and present existence. Here’s all you need to master the art of Hygge today…
Create a Hygge atmosphere at home by lighting a roaring fire, heaps of candles, and turning down the lights! No fireplace? Play this video on your tv or computer for instant cosy vibes. If you invite guests, make sure you have plenty of blankets so everyone can snuggle up. The Danes even make an effort to Hygge at work, lighting a candle on their desk. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult, it’s more about how you approach things. It can be as simple as lighting a candle every dinner time or creating a ritual out of making a cup of tea and settling in with a good book.
Enjoy Hygge classics such as hot chocolate or tea. Or make a delicious Mulled Wine – if 5 years in Germany taught me anything it’s that Gluhwein recipes are on point!
From my choice of beverage below, you can clearly tell that my dry January is going really well…
Focus on food that is nourishing, comforting and warming. While Hygge is about comfort and enjoyment, it’s not about overindulging.
Hygge parties should be relaxed, intimate and informal. Hygge is sometimes referred to as the ‘art of intimacy’. Often contentious subjects like politics aren’t discussed as it’s meant to be a time for togetherness.
Hygge is about being mindful of great moments however simple or extraordinary they are. Living in Norway, the temperature was frequently well below freezing and sometimes the snow stopped you from going out at all. But when we opened the front door and were confronted with a wall of snow, we used to practice this Scandinavian tradition: making the house really cosy, spending family time together, being mindful of all the good in your life and enjoying each beautiful moment.
Coco approves! It’s a fairly abstract concept and is meant to be felt rather than translated. Hygge is about state of mind, being present, being aware of what you’re trying to create, and appreciating every nice moment, however simple. Sharing this mood with others, especially during the bleak winter time, can really lift your spirits. Try incorporating it into every day life and maybe we can give the Danes a run for their top spot in the World Happiness Index!
So get your Hygge on and start seeing the winter months as something to enjoy rather than endure! Happy Hygge.