Hygge Isn’t Just For Winter: How to Hygge in the Summer Months
Denmark is a wonderful place. Over the years, it’s given us a great many interesting things – from pastry to Carlsberg to Peter Schmeichel. There’s one concept that’s attracted attention in recent years – and that’s Hygge. Let’s take a closer look at the ideas behind Hygge, and what role they might play in your life – all year round.
What is Hygge and How Do I Pronounce It?
When you look at the word ‘Hygge’ as it’s written, it might not be immediately obvious how it should be pronounced. If, improbably, you’ve guessed “hue-gah”, as Danish Youtuber Broendsted explains, then you’re correct. But the meaning behind the word is perhaps more difficult to convey than its pronunciation. It has no straightforward English equivalent: something close to ‘comfort’ might seem a logical substitute, but the meaning behind hygge is a little more expansive, implying the closeness of a community and the warmth of the shelter it builds for itself.
Unlike ‘comfort’, ‘sanctuary’ or ‘warm’, ‘Hygge’ is a verb. It’s something you need to actively do in order to experience. To hygge is to take pleasure in the simple domestic rituals you participate in everyday. If you’re making a cup of tea for your significant other, taking a bath with a scented candle, or you’re curled up beneath a blanket with a good book, then you’re hygge-ing.
How to Hygge in the Summer
Part of the reason that the Danes have come up with this term is that they experience a lot of darkness. During winter, darkness descends for up to seventeen hours a day, and so creating a cosy space to relax in is crucial. It’s part of what makes the Danish so upbeat. They consistently rank near the top of the World Happiness Report, which aims to identify the areas of the world where people are at their cheeriest. (In 2017, the Danes were second-happiest, beaten to the top spot by the Norwegians, whose surroundings are similarly grim and frostbitten, but who embrace a concept called koselig, which is broadly similar to hygge).
During the winter, hygge might entail lighting a few candles for an intimate dinner with family and friends. It might mean stoking up a log fire and basking in its glow. Provided that you’re not thinking about the stressors in your life – whether it’s the deadline you’ve agreed to meet the following week, or the blizzard that’s brewing outside – and just allowing yourself to enjoy the act of doing whatever it is you’re doing, then you’ll be doing Hygge.
But the concept of hygge is not tied specifically to winter – even when it’s sunny outside, you’ll be able to hygge effectively by opening out your living space and bringing the comforting sounds and smells of the outdoors into your interior. You might also draw the curtains and allow the room to fill with light, or spend an hour or so de-cluttering your conservatory to make the summer outdoors seem that much more splendid.
You needn’t be restricted to your interior in your attempts to hygge properly, either. Fire up your barbeque, invite a few friends over and enjoy yourself. Or why not take a trip to the local park? With the help of a frisbee or a football, you’ll be able to hygge. Pick up an ice-cream cone while you’re there, and you’ll be doing so even more effectively.
Bring the Outside In With Fresh Flowers
A vase full of flowers is a classic and reliable means of bring hyggeligt to your interior. The aromas which fresh flowers produce aren’t just pleasant – they’re also link to a host of health benefits. They’ll reduce stress, clean the air around them, and boost your mood. Consider that many of us can spend up to nine tenths of our lives indoors, and the benefits of bringing a few plants indoors become especially apparent.
Naturally, florists are skilled workers, and demand a high price for their labour. Getting a constant supply of fresh flowers for your home, therefore, might be impractical. Thankfully, the spring and summer offer copious opportunities to get out into the countryside and pick your own flowers. Before doing so, however, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the laws governing flower-picking. Flowers are, after all property. You can’t simply march into your neighbour’s garden and snaffle a rhododendron – that’s not hygge, that’s stealing. The same goes for flowers grown in your local council park, and those you’ll find in verges and roundabouts.
Even if you restrict yourself to wildflowers, there exist some species which are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. These include threadmoss, sandwort and adder’s tongue. While it’s unlikely that you’ll run into these (they’re protected for a reason), the best approach is to familiarise yourself with a few choice species of wildflower and leave any you aren’t familiar with alone. Be aware that it’s illegal to entirely uproot a flower and remove it to your own garden – just stick to snapping off the stem and pocketing the flower itself.
When it comes to flower-picking, it’s worth erring on the side of caution. There’s nothing more likely to interrupt the comforting glow you get from an afternoon’s hygge than a knock on the door from your local constabulary. If you’re growing your own flowers in your garden, then you’ll be able to pick at your leisure. Prune a few twigs from the plants outside and place them into a jar – you’ll thereby introduce some much-needed greenery into your home.
Pack a Picnic and Head to The Park
Pack a cosy blanket, a basket full of your favourite foods (be sure to pack cake, that’s very hyggeligt), your favourite book and a few oy your nearest and dearest and head to the park for a day in the sunshine. It’s these simple, intimate moments spent together that are hygge.
Take an Hour or Two With A Good Book (And A Slice Of Cake)
Hygge is all about being kind to yourself, and treating yourself! Find a shady spot and spend an hour or two reading your favourite book with a nice cup of tea and a slice of cake.
Hygge isn’t just an aesthetic style for the interior of your home (like, say, minimalism or ‘shabby chic’). It’s a way of approaching the experience of a range of activities you do inside your home and outside of it. Try to find a few minutes out of each day to hygge, then you’ll not only enjoy your life more, but you’ll be able to get things done at the same time!