"To paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers of our time -Winnie the Pooh- when asked to spell a certain emotion, "You don't spell it, you feel it."" - Meik Wiking, The Little Book of Hygge
I have fallen in love with the concept that being comfortable in your own skin and environment, is no longer considered egotistical or reclusive, but Hygge! Hygge is so in right now, with lifestyle pic plastered all over social media worldwide; so if the internet says it's true, it must be!
According to Meik Wiking and The Little Book of Hygge, the word is not as much Danish as it is Norwegian; meaning "well-being". However, it may even originate from the word hug which comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means "to embrace." The world hugge is of unknown origin-may it originate from the Old Norse hygga, which means "to comfort," which comes from the word hugr, meaning "mood." In turn, that words comes from the Germanic word hugjan, which relates to the Old English hycgan, meaning "to think, consider."
All these words and meanings may all very well refer to all things considered Hygge, no matter the exact meaning or era of it's origin!
Hygge is the Danish term for coziness. Other places in the world have different ideas of or ways of describing it; the Swedish call it LAGOM (check out the book I read recently featured below), the Norwegians call it HOSELIG, the Germans have GEMUTLICHKEIT, the Dutch call it GEZELLIGHEID, the Canadians call it HOMINESS. In South Africa, I think the best word we use as often as these other Nations in reference to enjoyment of food, company or our surroundings, would be LEKKER?
Think about it...
South Africans, a lot of whom are descended from the Dutch, also believe in cozy living, large families with huge hot meals, warm drinks and a ton of kuier (visiting/socializing) ofttimes around a fire!
Below, I'll go into the Hygge Manifesto as featured in the book and how I feel we could all benefit from printed FULL PAGE and putting it on the fridge for the whole family! <click the image for a link on where to buy the book!>
The sequel to this book is The Little Book of Lykke, which I am yet to read, it is on my list though.
1. Atmosphere - I love low lighting, admittedly, the only lamp I own is the one next to my bed. All the others we've owned previously were bumped over by rambunctious children that lead to me removing them. When we rewired the house, we replaced our wall sconces with LED down lights, which save on the cost of electricity and are better for seeing what you're doing (homework, cake decorating and art projects) But are so not Hygge. For the cozy feeling, I light candles or limit lighting, turning the living room lights off and letting the passage and scullery light infuse the house with low light. Ah well.
2. Presence - phones may not be present during meal time! There's nothing worse than sitting down to chat to someone and they keep looking at their screen. Don't do it people.
Presence can also refer to immersing yourself in a task, stilling your mind from the chaos within and focusing fully on the bolognaise sauce you are making, or the washing you are folding; being present in daily chores trains you to be ever present in special occasions too, you'll appreciate it more, trust me!
3. Pleasure - Take time out to doing the things you love. If you have a passion, work at it for at least 15 minutes a day! Whether it's drawing, playing music, reading or journal-ling, if it brings peace to your soul, do it! Eat that slice of cake calling your name from the confectionery counter; BUT balance it out, not by punishing yourself, but by drinking an extra two glasses of water, or parking on the opposite side of the parking lot when you go to a mall, or spend an extra 15min with a loved one, with nothing but the two of you!
4. Equality - A perfect example of this is how hubby and I conduct our evening routine; I may be finishing up a cake and he may start dinner with me finishing it off and dishing it up. The children set the table ad clear it when we are done. Where I may start the dishes he finishes them with doing the pots. Sharing any load, make the load less heavy. Logic.
These topics are pretty self explanatory but unique to every situation. I cannot tell you what to do with your time or how to handle a situation, just as you cannot tell me that I shouldn't take something personally, when it was done unto my person! You may have a lot more time on your hands to do what you love and think that your situation applies to everyone. Each person's life and situation is different and should be respected. But in all things, respect goes a long, long way! Respect for your environment, your peers, your friends, family and even your children; they are little beings doing their best in life, as you are. This philosophy can apply to what Meik Wiking lists in the Hygge Manifesto under EQUALITY, GRATITUDE, HARMONY, TRUCE and TOGETHERNESS. I don't want to get into all the things that are wrong with the world (my opinions) but respect seems to be one of those things I see lacking far too often in many situations! The simple law in life is that one should treat a person the way you would want to be treated yourself.
Now, to put things straight, I must confess that prior to reading The Little Book of Hygge, I read, Lagom - The Swedish Art of Balanced Living and I really felt a connection. I connected with the things we already strive for as South African's as well as the things we are missing. my heart ached with longing and I knew it was time to really put things into focus and work harder (ironic, isn't it?) to achieve a more balanced life.
This concept is not foreign, in fact it is very close to what Shannon Ables talks about in her podcast THE SIMPLE SOPHISTICATE.
If you don't do Podcasts, you can read her books; Choosing the Simple Luxurious Life and Living the Simple Luxurious Life!
Back to Lagom; one thing that really stood out to me was the concept of Fika! I LOVE FIKA!
I've grown very fond of our local PnP's Copenhagens, they do a berry preserve or the regular custard ones; Bella and I share one at last once a week!
The trick however, remains balance. Mugg 'n Bean has some of the best cake for purchase per slice; really big slices! But you don't have to eat the hole thing in one sitting! Take half home and enjoy it the next day for a fika! I' quite happy sharing; Should Ramona and I decide a piece of cake or a scone would be nice with our weekly tea catch up, we share. We don't eat off the same fork or anything, but it's not a big deal to ask for an extra plate and fork at the restaurant, really.
So if you are finding this idea of Hygge or Lagom or Living a Simply Sophisticated Life of interest, don't be afraid to try it out yourself, there's no way you can regret turning your bathroom into a spa; even if only for one night!
Haul out those candles reserved for special occasions, the gift box of bath salts you received and never thought you'd use, because you're not a huge fan of Orchids, put the lights off and maybe even put some of your favorite calming music on (works from your phone which is small enough not to have near the water and not risk electrocution), this really helps with blocking out unwanted noise from the house. If you have children, as I do, it is best to do this when they are in bed simply because having little fists bashing at the door every 5 minutes asking if you're okay and why you have music in the bathroom and what's taking so long and that they need the loo, is not relaxing!
Here are some easy ways to bring Hygge into your home and everyday life;
Surround yourself only with things you love! Bing the outside in, with greenery. Pimp out your bathroom and turn it into a spa! Candles, candles and more candles!
Warm drinks; hot tea, coffee or gourmet hot chocolate! Try mulled wine or
Home-baked goods, sourdough bread or cakes and giant cookies!For yourself, you can cozy up in your favorite yoga pants, ugg-boots, a pair of thick knit socks and chunky blanket and not have to feel bad! It's Hygge! For evenings with company, take time to cook a hearty stew served with home made bread and preserves! Blankets for all! Haul out the board games and built a fire (if you can, if not-candles, candles and more candles)!
Lavender Chocolate Chaud (comfort)
from The Simple Sophisticate
1 2/3 cup full cream milk
1/3 cup fresh cream
85g dark chocolate (70% cacao – minimum)
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (the best quality you can find)
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh cream
1/2 tablespoon castor sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
Dried lavender flowers
1.Make the whipping cream first. Mix the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2.For chocolat chaud – Heat milk, cream over low-medium heat in a sauce pan, stirring occasionally. Heat until milk/cream is warmed through and simmering (not boiling!!!). 3-5 minutes.
3.OPTIONAL – (If making lavender infused chocolat chaud). Remove from heat and let lavender steep for five minutes in the milk. Strain lavender buds from milk and return the milk to the saucepan and the stove top.
4.Over medium heat, add chocolate and sugar to the milk until chocolate is melted and incorporated. Whisk milk mixture until smooth.
5.Pour into cups and place a dollop of whipped cream on top, garnish with extra lavender flowers.
Traditional Mulled Wine
2 bottles good red wine (one dry and one sweet)
2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup whisky, brandy or rum
1/4 cup honey or agave
2 oranges, slices into rings
4 cinnamon sticks*
4 star whole anise*
10 whole cloves*
*have extra for garnishing.
Over low heat, slow cook the wine, spirits, sweetener, orange and spices for approx. 2 hours. Remove solids with strainer and serve in warmed glasses and garnish as desired.
*For added spice, add 10 whole black peppercorns in the cooking process.
I do hope hat winter isn't still depressing (as I know it can be) with all these wonderful ways to bring Hygge into your life! Remember that Denmark has 90 days of winter with temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius with the sun setting as early as 3pm in the afternoon and only rising around am and they are rated the happiest places to live in the world!
Don't forget to check out #romancingthehome for more Hygge inspiration in the month of July! Until next time! ...keep it Hygge!