6 Essentials for Embracing Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness
When Danes are asked what they most associate with hygge, an overwhelming 85 percent will mention candles. There is no faster way to get hygge than to light a few candles or, as they say in Danish, levende lys, or "living lights."
2. Something Sinful
The high level of meat, confectionery and coffee consumption in Denmark is directly linked to hygge. Hygge is about being kind to yourself—giving yourself a treat, and giving yourself, and each other, a break from the demands of healthy living. Sweets are hyggelige. Cake is hyggeligt. Coffee or hot chocolate is hyggeligt, too. Carrot sticks, not so much. Something sinful is an integral part of the hygge ritual. But it should not be something fancy or extravagant. Foie gras is not hyggeligt. But a hearty stew is. Popcorn is. Especially if we all share the same bowl.
Hygge is a situation where there is a lot of relaxed thoughtfulness. Nobody takes center stage or dominates the conversation for long stretches of time. Equality is an important element in hygge—a trait that is deeply rooted in the Danish culture—and also manifests itself in the fact that everybody takes part in the chores of the hyggelig evening. It is more hyggeligt if we all help to prepare food, instead of having the host alone in the kitchen.
4. Planned Reminiscence
Hygge may help us to be grateful for the everyday because it is about savouring simple pleasures. Hygge is making the most of the moment, but hygge is also a way of planning for and preserving happiness. Danes plan for hyggelig times and reminisce about them afterwards.
5. A Nook to Snuggle Up In
The one thing that every home needs is a hyggekrog, which roughly translates as "a nook." It is the place in the room where you love to snuggle up with a blanket, with a book and a cup of tea.
Danes love their comfy spaces. Everyone wants one, and hyggekroge are common in Copenhagen and throughout the country. Walking on the streets of the city, you will notice that many of the buildings have a bay window. On the inside, these are almost certainly filled with cushions and blankets, providing the people who live there with a cozy place to sit and relax after a long day.
6. Time Together
On average, 60 percent of Europeans socialize with friends, family or colleagues a minimum of once a week. The corresponding average in Denmark is 78 percent. While you can hygge by yourself, hygge mostly happens in small groups of friends or family.
Time spent with others creates an atmosphere that is warm, relaxed, friendly, down-to-earth, close, comfortable, snug and welcoming. In many ways, it is like a good hug—but without the physical contact. In this situation you can be completely relaxed and yourself. The art of hygge is therefore also the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people.
Excerpted from THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE by Meik Wiking. Copyright © 2017 by Meik Wiking. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Want more stories like this delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the Oprah.com Healthy Body Newsletter!