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How to Live Scandinavian: Hygge

How to Live Scandinavian: Hygge

This is the first article of two on how to bring Scandinavian concepts into your every day.


Ask any Dane what their favourite thing in the world is, or what makes Danes “the happiest people on earth”, and chance is they will answer “hygge”. This is a concept that cannot be directly translated into other languages, but it is best described as the feeling you get when you are in a cozy place, when you are talking to good friends, or when you are eating a good meal with people you like. In this article, I am going to give some suggestions to how you can bring Hygge into your everyday.

- Candles: Although Denmark is a tiny country of only 5 million people, we are one of the countries to use the most candles. This is because we use it all the time; we light them in our bedrooms, in our living rooms to spread a good atmosphere when it is cold outside, during meals, and in every other situation! This is a great first step to having some hygge. Be careful, of course, to make sure that there is no fire risk when you light your candles.

- Warmth on a Cold Day: in Denmark it gets really cold and snowy or rainy outside. Especially in the depth of winter, it also gets very dark as the country only has a few hours of sunlight. The Danes’ solution to this is to make it a positive thing; they go inside and sit down by the fireplace with a warm cup of hot chocolate, tea or coffee and a blanket to keep them warm. Sometimes they have friends over and sit and talk, while other times they are by themselves or with their closest family. Either way, sitting by the warm fire on a cold day is really Hyggeligt!

- Small, close groups of friends: many people who come to Denmark describe Danes as quite cold. This is not because we don’t want to help or get to know new people. However, in Denmark, people like to have small groups of very, very close friends, as opposed to large groups of friends who you only see once a month and don’t talk to much. This means that it is sometimes hard for new people to gain a lot of Danish friends and Danes feel they already have a good group of friends. In order to Hygge themselves, they will invite these friends over to a meal in small groups with cozy lights and candles. When you do this, make sure there is not too much else going on; there has to be a focus on being together, talking, and enjoying yourselves, not much else.

- Baked goods: it is very common in Denmark for all ages to bake! Especially breakfast buns which are the traditional Danish breakfast. Get up before the rest of your family and surprise them with warm freshly made buns when they wake up, to spread a really hyggelig atmosphere.


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