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Hygge your way to winter bliss

Even with its dialled-down days, winter can be one of the happiest times of year. The Danish have worked out the secret – it’s called hygge and it involves a lot of cake.

It's time to get cosy; hygge (pronounced hyoo-guh) season is upon us.

While our culture revolves around sunshine, Danish culture has evolved around winter and there’s a lot we can learn from our Scandinavian counterparts.

Hygge exploded in popularity in 2016 via books, blogs and Pinterest boards, to the point of being shortlisted for the 2016 Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries. So what exactly is hygge and why is the world still so fascinated with it?

While there is no direct translation, hygge is best described as a sense of cosiness, kinship and comfort. That feeling is created during idle hours spent making slow foods like jam and stews, playing board games and hosting small gatherings – all while wearing knitted socks (called hyggesokker). Just the thought of these activities is enough to evoke a warm twang of nostalgia. And that’s exactly why people in all corners of the globe have latched on to the idea of hygge with such wholesome eagerness.

Denmark constantly tops happiness surveys because the Danes know that simple pleasures really are good for the soul. So whip out your hyggebukser (the comfy pants you live in at home but would never wear out) and let’s get cosy. Here is how to hygge your way through winter.

Cosy your home

In winter, home plays a central role in our happiness. It’s a place for comfort, recharging and indulging the urge to hibernate. Place candles, cushions, indoor plants and throw rugs around your home to cosy it up and make it inviting at the end of a grey day. If you can, create little nooks where you can curl up with a book, cup of coffee or Netflix. Nooks are important because they make you feel safe, secure and comfortable. The world outside may be chaotic and chilly but your home is the place to escape it all and reconnect.

Keep it simple

When the sun loses its intensity, your spirit doesn’t have to fade with it. This is the perfect time to slow down and savour the things you wish you had more time for, like learning to draw, finishing that stack of books on your bedside table or spending more time with friends and family. To inject a little hygge into the week, give yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to sit down with your coffee, or light a candle to bring a sense of occasion to that mid-week dinner of fridge leftovers.

Try a new recipe

Hosting a potluck dinner or inviting a few guests around for a day of baking is one of the most hygge things you can do. As such, comfort food is synonymous with hygge – think cake, hot chocolate and cinnamon scrolls. Take your next lazy Sunday as an opportunity to try your hand at pickling, making a hearty soup or your favourite warming dessert.

Prioritise quality time

Large gatherings are synonymous with summer, where outdoor occasions such as park picnics allow for plenty of people. But since winter is all about paring back and being indoors, the season calls for socialising in smaller groups. Remember, there are only so many people you can get around a Monopoly board comfortably – so use this as your rule of thumb. Small gatherings pave the way for deeper conversation. Given that shared experiences are the best way to build good friendships, take the opportunity to learn a new card game together, have a go at making bread or whipping up some new cocktails.

Remember gratitude is the attitude

Whether you want to call it self-care, gratitude or mindfulness, hygge is basically a prescription for relaxation. If you need an excuse to spend a day inside binge watching Netflix with your phone off, this is it. Shrug off any expectations of things you ‘should’ be doing and appreciate what’s already in front of you. Winter is the antidote to busyness – a small stretch of time to recharge before long summer days beckon once again.

As seen in Swell Issue 3. Grab your copy here

Words: Melinda Halloran | Photography: Zoe Lonergan

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Measurements (cm) XS S M L XL XXL
A: Half Chest 46 49 52 55 58 61
B: Body Length 66 69 72 74 76 78
C: Sleeve Length 19.5 20.5 21.5 22.5 22.5 23.5