Hygge – Living the Danish Way

Hailing first place in the 2016 Wold Happiness Report for the third time, Denmark seems to be getting more than a few things right when it comes to living well and enjoying life. Again and again, this is credited to a certain 18th century lifestyle concept which is sweeping through the web and across bookstores worldwide. Pronounced ‘Hoo-gah’, this increasingly popular phenomenon is a lot simpler than it sounds, and can be translated into English, quite simply, as ‘cosiness’.

While the sense of Hygge can be achieved alone drinking hot chocolate and cocooned in bed on a Sunday morning, Hygge is very much about quality time with close friends and family, and establishing meaningful connections. A dinner party framed with soft lighting and burning candles, good comfort food, and light-hearted conversation with friends over a bottle of red, is Hygge. And while this may sound a far cry away from the blazing pre-drink sessions and house parties which are the essence of university living, a social Hygge night in can be particularly appealing on a dismal Saturday night, when the Welsh rain is battering the windowpanes and you’re not fancying getting drenched in the queue for Live Lounge.

Hygge can also be a brisk morning walk around Roath Park Lake; drinking in the freshness of the frosty morning and sipping strong coffee from a flask before a day spent in the library. It can be a mince pie and a cup of mulled wine at your favourite coffee shop, a pub meal with friends after a long lecture, or a duvet day watching Disney movies. We spend our days rushing, without taking the time to slow down. Hygge is more than cosiness, it’s an entire attitude to life that breeds happiness and contentment. Our long and lazy university summer is now over for another year, so as the temperature begins to cool and the leaves fall, embrace the Danish way of life. Winter need not be beset with depressing January deadlines and relentless sheets of rain (although, this one is probably quite unavoidable).

We have a lot to learn before we can boast happiness levels to rival Scandinavia, but to get you started, here are some tips to Hygge-up your life before winter hits us like a snowball to the face:

Embrace the Danish love of minimalist fashion – think everything black and you’ve pretty much nailed it. Don the woolly jumpers, knitted socks, huge scarfs, and all things comfy (wellington boots are also totally Hygge appropriate).

Hot Drinks are life: If you hadn’t noticed this theme already, hot drinks are all but essential to Hygge. Whether it be mulled cider, cocoa and whipped cream, a chia latte or a good old English brew and a custard cream, frequent beverage breaks will definitely help to achieve that warm and fuzzy feeling we’re yearning for here.

Food: Eat the cake. Everyone should be happier after a spot of daily indulgence. Yo-yo dieting and denying yourself the things you love is not Hygge, its miserable and hard work.

Go for a walk: While the Danes suffer sub-zero temperatures that make winter walks a potentially painful experience, we enjoy milder weather. Take advantage of those crisp and sunny November days and appreciate the beautiful Welsh scenery on your doorstep. Try a hike to Castle Coch, a walk down Penarth Pier or a day trip and a Sunday stroll on the beach at Rhosilli.

Candles: Candles are probably the most important addition to your newfound ‘Hyggeligt’ lifestyle. Danes love candles, so dim those florescent overhead lights and transform your uni-room into a cosy haven of soft flickering light. Light them in the bathroom, the dining table, and line the windowsills – there can never be too many candles.

So take more time to appreciate the joys of winter; learn to look after yourself and your wellbeing by indulging in small pleasures more often, and most importantly, cut yourself a break!


By Emily Jones