Hygge [hoo-ga]

(n.) the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things

The Danes are reportedly the happiest nation on earth and they credit their well-being to an untranslatable concept, a little something called hygge.


Well, plenty of things – warm fires, good food, the comforting feeling of being surrounded by friends and family, hot baths, holding hands, walks through crisp autumn leaves, being curled up with a good book… 

There are some similar feely concepts around in other countries. The Germans have ‘Gemütlichkeit’, which means a state of warmth, friendliness and good cheer, and generally involves beer gardens.

Hygge isn’t quite that. The Japanese of course have feng shui, the philosophical system of harmonising everyone and everything with the surrounding environment. It’s not that either. 

But we British have ‘niceness’, as in when somebody says, on a wild and wintry day, ‘Let’s go back to ours and have a nice cup of tea’. It isn’t just the actual tea: it’s being all together, warm and dry, huddled around a fire with nothing much to worry about except drinking something hot and whether or not to dunk your chocolate hobnob in it. 


Well it seems the Danes absolutely live for that sort of thing. Here are some more hygge activities: 

  • Lighting a candle and reading a goodbook in the middle of the afternoon as a hurricane howls outside 
  • Putting on some thick socks that havebeen warming on the radiator while the coffee machine gurgles away in the background 
  • Baking cookies with the kids on aSaturday morning and then taking them round to Grandma’s house for everyone to eat 

You get the idea. It’s about taking great pleasure in small pleasures. First and foremost the atmosphere needs to be set and lighting is key to this. Candles are of course perfect, in fact according to the European Candle Association Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere in Europe. And they needn’t be a chore to maintain. With numerous flameless battery versions now on the market, many with integrated timers, your house can be cosy like clockwork. 

Light garlands also enhance the hygge atmosphere. This copper wire version from Lights for Fun, is a modern and stylish option.

(Åí12) Pooky is one of our favorite light suppliers – everything they produce oozes style and they have many options using natural materials such as wood, copper and brass to create the ideal hygge interior and exterior. www.pooky.com 

To get really cosy you need blankets, sheepskin rugs and fur throws. Get the fire going and indulge on the sofa with your favorite book and a hot chocolate. 

In fact stock up and drape throws on every chair or place in baskets ready for guests to grab to make your home super inviting. Cox and Cox have some beautiful options from faux fur beanbags to sumptuous double sheepskin rugs. www.coxandcox.co.uk

Within this cosy enviroment enjoy some relaxed time with your family and friends. This can mean reading a story cuddled up on the sofa, baking in the kitchen or playing cards in front of the fire. Imagine soft music playing in the background, the smell of bread in the oven. 

…..And how do you know when you’ve found hygge? Well, as the Danes are likely to smile and tell you, you’ll know it when you feel it.