I need to start this post with another thank you to all the new followers I’ve collected since my last post. I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm you guys have expressed for hygge. I always knew it was something special, but the excitement people have expressed to me over the last few days has totally validated everything I already knew about this gorgeous way of life. So, if we’re talking hygge (which we certainly are), I thought I should find out about what it’s like to be a ‘hygge native’ from a real Dane. I spoke to author Claus M. Lohman to learn more about everyone’s new favourite lifestyle.
Everyone seems to have their own idea about how hygge translates itself into the real world, and Claus is no different. “When you are in safe surroundings and with people you love undertaking an activity, such as watching movies, playing football, reading aloud, playing with Lego and playing PlayStation, with candy, soda and chips included.” Sound familiar? That’s the beauty of hygge – it’s completely accessible, and as long as you’re in cosy surroundings with good people, you can create a hyggeligt environment anywhere. “Candles create small caves of light… a contrast to the dangerous dark.” The dangerous dark – how pretty is that? Claus believes this is related to security and proximity – both important elements of hygge, where we benefit from being close to the people, objects and places that bring us joy.
Claus describes hygge as a ‘very important’ part of Danish life, and ‘the highlight of the day and something to look forward to’. “Hygge can be planned, but it can also arise spontaneously from many different situations.” This is easy to understand – it’s the feeling you get from being in a room having a good time with all your favourite people, or berry picking in the countryside as the autumn sun is setting, or catching the sunrise over the sea on a summer morning. Sometimes the feeling can take you by surprise. As Claus says, “Hygge is kind of a reward given to you by yourself. After a hard day of work, hygge is the culmination.”
So if we want to harness hygge in our own lives, how can we put ourselves into the most receptive state of mind? “Hygge is to close the door to the world and live in and enjoy the moment for you and your loved ones. Usually this can be achieved after ending all must-do-things, so you can indulge in your chosen activity, either alone or with others. It may be reading, cooking, playing cards or anything else you cherish.” Hygge isn’t something to be rushed or forced – it’s something which should be given time to unravel organically, and to filter naturally into your life. “Everybody can hygge,” said Claus, “all it takes is time and affection. Therefore everyone has the opportunity.”
I love to find out people’s personal experiences of hygge, and I wanted to know about Claus’ favourite way to connect with it. “In winter when the snow is falling – out in the garden having a snowball fight with my two boys followed by hot chocolate, carpets and storytime in front of our lit stove.” It makes me crave the romance of thick Nordic snow, and pine trees and low grey winter light and breath you can see. Winter is coming, and while the most I might see in the south east of England is a light dusting of snow on the hilltops, learning about hygge has taught me to appreciate the dark evenings and the streetlights reflected in puddles and the way the tiny worms peek out of the mulch early in the morning.
So what has speaking to Claus told me? That the traditional Danish notion of hygge is something we really can experience ourselves anywhere. Once we’ve ticked everything off our to-do lists, we can shut the world out, literally or figuratively, and bask in the things we enjoy the most, wherever we are.
Claus M. Lohman is the author of Genesis: Two Worlds One Mission, and lives in Odense with his two sons.