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By Diane Small
We all feel it. Sometimes many times a day! That feeling when your cold hands wrap around a hot drink. The delight of putting on PJs still warm from the dryer after you take a bath. The sense of satisfaction you feel when you realise that tiny bit of thyme you just put in your risotto made all the difference.
The Danes have a word for this: hygge. Hygge (pronounced hyue-gah) is the perfect way to express the genuine pleasure we feel when we recognise the beauty of ordinary, everyday objects. It just gives them more meaning, and shows us how to live in the moment a little bit more.
The Japanese do this beautifully with their tea ceremonies, for example: each component of the ceremony is essential, from the whisk to the teapot to the time taken to execute each step. But you don’t need the formal rules of tradition to enjoy hygge; simply lighting a candle with an evening meal, or snuggling under a toasty blanket with your loved one whilst you watch Netflix qualifies.
Unfortunately, technology and fast paced modern life has made our homes nothing but a place to crash out, rather than a space for enjoyment and entertaining. We are less conscious about how we live and interact with our surroundings. Hygge is about celebrating reality and being present and transforming the ordinary into a moment to savour.
Danes are often cited as the happiest nation in the world and for good reason – they make enjoyment of small, daily things a priority and take the time to celebrate wonderful cotidian moments like making meals, hitting the gym or even just sitting somewhere outside. They find ways to incorporate hygge into their daily life so it becomes a natural extension of living each day.
By creating simple rituals that take very little effort, and by surrounding yourself with objects that you feel are like functional little artworks, you too can indulge in a bit of hygge. But above all, hygge is about being present; living in the moment – be it on a freezing, blustery day or under a tropical sun – and just enjoying it for what it is.
10 Little Things That Bring Us Hygge
1. Crack Open A Good Book
Raining or snowing outside? Curl up under a blanket (in bed or not, we won’t judge!), put the electronics aside, and crack open a good book. We’d recommend Kate Fletcher’s tome on Fashion and Sustainability – it is really inspiring, and may well change your life.
Pick up a copy here.
3. Light A Fire
There’s nothing like a roaring fire to make you glad it’s winter. Our ancestors gathered around their warmth since time began, and there’s still something so primally beautiful and relaxing about watching the fire’s dance. No fireplace? No worries. There’s a huge trend for good, old fashioned eco friendly and wood burning fireplaces right now because they’re sustainable in terms of energy, and can help you save money on heating bills too.
Learn more here.
2. Cosy Up Under A Throw
You’ll feel warm and cosy, safe and sound under an alpaca blanket. We love the ones made by Animana, because we know they’re made by gently brushing Peruvian alpacas – perfect for animal lovers and the planet, too.
Find out where to get one here.
3. Cook Up A Pot of Stew
Nothing warms you up from the inside out quite like a bowl of hearty, healthy, homemade stew. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and it’s fun to make one with a loved one on a chilly day, then share the results together later with some chunky bread.
Get our best vegan recipes here.
4. Slip Into Some Slinky Silk PJs
Some slinky silk pajamas sit next to your skin as gentle as a soft, warm breath. Silk also has a suprising capacity to keep you warm in winter (especially when paired up with a pair of gorgeous cashmere socks) and cool in summer. And the beauty of silk PJs now is that it’s chic to wear them outdoors, too!
Love this PJ set? Get it here.
5. Make Your Bed Your Nest
Since you spend a third of your life in bed, you’d better make this place your nest. The mattress should be supportive of your back, and comfortable enough to give you a guaranteed good night’s sleep. For us, the headboard should be vegan leather, and it’s even better if you can find a divan that pops open to reveal a huge amount of storage space under the mattress, like the bed by Happy Beds has in the pic below.
Make your bed and lie on it by clicking here.
6. Luxuriate In A Hot Bath
Recipe: take one tub of hot water, add 1c of bath salts, 1/2 c baking soda, and a few drops of your favourite essential oil, and soak. Et voila: you’re detoxing! Did you know as fun as it is, bubble bath is really bad for your skin? It’s loaded with irritating sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), so it’s best to scent your bath with oils instead. Our pick? Neom Organic’s Jasmine/Rosewood scented oils for the bath. And when you get out, make sure you wrap yourself in a thick, thirsty, natural towel, like these linen ones below.
7. Have An Indoor Picnic
Gather all the houseplants in the middle of the living room. Set down a blanket and eat on the floor. It’s a little picnic at home! Not sure what to make? It needn’t be fancy – scones and jam and hot cocoa will do. But if you feel like cooking up a storm, get some great picnic recipes here.
8. Watch A Bunch of Movies
Too cold to even think about leaving the house? Curl up under your alpaca throw or favourite blanket, snuggle up with someone you love, and buckle down for a mega movie-a-thon. If you’re into documentaries, we found a load of free ones here, or click here for some more mainstream films on the environment.
9. Make The Perfect Cup Of Tea
Whether it’s sweet rose, spicy cinnamon, tart green, creamy chai or good old fashioned black, a nice hot cuppa is something to be appreciated in winter. Wrap your hands around your favourite mug and feel the warmth penetrate all the way into your bones. And that’s before even taking a sip!
10. Light A Delicious Candle
The days are depressingly short, but this can be a good thing. Instead of living under LEDs, why not make your home with the glow of candle light? But note: we need to be careful with the candles we choose to burn: first of all, the wax needs to be pure vegetable – and not GMO soy, either! Then, the wick should be pure braided cotton, with no lead. And finally, the scent should be 100% based on natural oils. Cire Trudon is the best candle maker in the world, if you ask us – and their formulae have barely changed since they were making candles for King Louis XIV. Our favourite? The rich, spicy Ottoman scent.
Check them out here.
Main image: the Tartan Blanket company Image 7: Wikicommons