Hygge (hoo-guh) [n. Danish] Coziness; enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Hugs. Candlelight. A warm fire, a comfy blanket, a steaming mug of tea, and a good book. Wearing pajamas all day. Being kind and indulgent to yourself and others. It’s all hygge.
When we at Bas Bleu first heard of hygge, we were hooked! It has no direct translation in English, but the term encompasses a broad concept of comfort, kindness, and warmth. In Denmark (where hygge originates), the winters are especially challenging, with seventeen hours of darkness and frigid temperatures, so the Danes rely heavily on hygge—and each other!—to get them through those bleak and frozen months. Family and friends are at the heart of the Danish lifestyle, along with lots of candles, pastries, warm clothes, and cozy nooks to keep both home and heart toasty until the spring.
The more tumultuous the climate becomes, the cozier the hygge. After all, a warm fire and a cup of tea are that much nicer when there’s a storm outside—whether the storm is meteorological, political, or social! The winters might not be quite as brutal on this side of the pond, but we all could use a little warmth and comfort in our lives, especially in these uncertain times. That’s why Bas Bleu compiled a list of basics to get you started on your way to hygge, bluestocking style. (Check out The Little Book of Hygge, featured in our Winter 2017 edition, for even more insight into this charming concept. You can also visit our hygge board on Pinterest for inspiration on how to bring this charming way of life to your home!)
Book, books, books!
If we’re doing hygge, we’re doing it the Bas Bleu way—with books! Hygge is all about reveling in little moments and simple pleasures…and there’s no better intellectual indulgence than a good book. In addition to being an escape from everyday stresses, books offer insight into worlds and lives different from our own. Grab a thrilling mystery, an engrossing life story, or a heart-warming Regency romance and take solace in reading during those long winter nights. Trust us; we’ll be doing the same!
Candles and Lighting
One of the centerpieces of hygge is warm lighting. A roaring fire is a wonderful way to cheer any room, but if you lack the requisite fireplace, no worries! Simply turn off those harsh overhead lights and create pools of warmth with candles (rumor has it Denmark burns more candles per person than any other European country) and lamps. You can even add twinkle lights to illuminate your reading nook with a touch of magic.
Good Food and Hot Drinks
We at Bas Bleu love a good cuppa, and no hygge practice is complete without pastries and a warm drink! Handmade Tebirkes—a Danish poppy seed pastry (we found a good-looking recipe here)—and porridge (it’s not just for bears anymore!) are both good ways to make your home more hyggelig, but any tasty treat will do. Tea, coffee, or hot chocolate are easy ways to “hygge up” a gathering, and mulling spices add warmth and wonder to cider or wine (to create gløgg).
Warm and Welcoming Scents
One of the perks of homemade baked goods is the wonderful scent that fills your home. Even if you don’t have the means or the time to bake from scratch, you can still infuse your space with wonderful aromas with scented candles, oils, or firestarters. Choose something spicy like cinnamon, sweet like vanilla, or earthy like patchouli, and sink into the cozy atmosphere with your favorite book.
Comfy Clothes and Snuggly Blankets
Cozy layers, knitted wool socks and sweaters, and piles of warm blankets are practical gear for warding off the cold. Hoodies and ponchos are Bas Bleu favorites, while fingerless gloves keep your hands warm without interfering with turning pages!
Not a lot of space? Not a problem! Smaller spaces are cozier and more intimate, upping the hygge factor. Even better, we find reading nooks (or hyggekrog) to be the ideal retreat in the chilly winter months—or all year round! A hyggekrog can be as simple as a pile of pillows on a window seat or as complex as a built-in space between bookshelves, so let your budget and your creative spirit guide you! For gatherings, a cluster of chairs around a kitchen table laden with candles and cookies really takes the cake.
Friends and Family
Okay, so reading while company is over might be considered rude, and you can hygge on your own, but those long, cold winters can get awfully lonely. To hygge the Danish way, gather a group of loved ones to join in on the fun! Don’t stress about inviting everyone you know—the smaller and more intimate the group, the better. Start a book club or invite your fellow bibliophiles over for some tea and quiet companionship while you’re all lost in your respective stories.
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