I’m in an autumnal frenzy. The first question I ask anyone at the moment is ‘Have you seen any conkers and if so where can I get them?’. Conkers are my autumnal drug. I crave that gorgeous rich brown. I feel the same way about blackberries too. I spotted some on a Sunday walk on the first weekend of September and I can’t stop thinking about the glossiest, prettiest berries of the year. I’m also obsessing over the leaves, monitoring the trees I walk past every day to see if they look any barer than the day before. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m in my absolute element now we’re right at the very start of the most hyggelig part of the year, and even though my recent foray into jumper wearing was short lived (I ripped it off in a hot sticky mess after a few hours), I’m beside myself with excitement that we’re in September!
A lot of people are only just discovering hygge, what with the flurry of books and articles popping up all over the internet right now. So, if you’re new to the concept and are looking for some pointers to get the full hygge experience, I’ve put together a few super easy ways to cultivate it with minimal effort.
Spice is nice
In the US, you can find pumpkin spice-flavoured (and scented) EVERYTHING. I love it. Pumpkin spice (also known as pumpkin pie spice) is a mix of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, blended to elevate the natural sweetness of pumpkin with a warming autumnal kick. It hasn’t quite reached that level yet in the UK, but we already have the ultimate basic bitch beverage Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks (it has its own Twitter!), and Krispy Kreme has announced it will be selling Pumpkin Spiced doughnuts from 17th October. If you want to go all-out with some cosy American pumpkin treats, I often find pumpkin spiced items (like coffee, candles and body products) in places like TK Maxx and Homesense. Or, if you want the ultimate autumnal hygge experience, why not try baking these incredible pumpkin spice cupcakes? They’ll fill your home with their delicious cinnamon aroma, will give you something fun to do with friends and family and will give your tastebuds a real treat – multi-sensory hygge at its finest.
Dress for the weather
Ugh, who likes t-shirts anyway? I see the Indian summer we’re always promised in the UK isn’t looking likely this year – absolutely fine by me. So why not spend the weekend hiding all your summer holiday gear away and spend a little while pulling out all your trusty old jumpers and scarves and boots? Hygge dressing is all about being comfortable and cosy – it doesn’t have to be stylish, although Scandinavians are known for their chic, pared down, minimalist fashion sense. My ideal hygge dressing involves massive knits, boots and cosy scarves. Or, if you’re planning a hygge night in (which you definitely should!), drag out your oldest, comfiest loungewear. You might not win any fashion contests, but that’s totally fine – it’s about feeling comfortable and toasty, not like a catwalk model.
The ultimate hygge night in
If you have even a passing knowledge of hygge, you’ll probably have a particular image in mind – wearing warm, cosy socks, nestled in front of an open fire, drinking a copious amount of hot chocolate, swaddled in a blanket, surrounded by tealights and on a night-long boxset binge. This isn’t what all hygge looks or feels like, but why not throw yourself into the concept with the traditional hygge experience? It’s up to you to curate your guestlist, whether it’s you and your partner, your family or your best friends – just make sure it’s people you want to be around who make you feel at ease, and not people you feel obliged to spend time with. The people are a crucial part of the relaxed, comfortable experience, so cherrypick the best of the best, settle down for the evening and let the hygge happen!
Did you know that the word ‘harvest’ comes from the Old English ‘hærfest‘, which means ‘autumn’?
For some reason, the only time we really come across Harvest Festival in the UK is at primary school, when we might bring a tin of food in as part of a charity collection. It takes place around the full moon nearest the autumn equinox, and celebrates the main harvest of the year. I wish we did more to recognise Harvest Festival in the UK as it seems to be a good fit with hygge – a celebration of abundance, gratitude and merriment! Throwing a Harvest Festival gathering would be a brilliant way to bring your friends together and enjoy a massive meal. Head to a farmer’s market (or even a pick-your-own farm) in the morning and spend the afternoon preparing a feast – homemade bread, plenty of fruits and vegetables and lots of wine! If you’re looking for Harvest Festival inspiration, there are some great ideas on this Pinterest board to help you get started.
If you’re getting cabin fever at the mere prospect of all this time indoors, don’t panic – you can experience hygge outside too. Danes are especially good at making the most of outdoor pursuits at this time of year, whether it’s foraging for berries in the countryside, a walk to the beach (OK, you might not be sunbathing, but it’s so much more beautiful in the autumn light), bike rides (pick a route with lots of changing leaves) and even wild camping. I’ve also just discovered something that has really captured my imagination – at places like Tøndermarsken, Ribe and on Rømø island in Denmark, you can witness a phenomenon called the Black Sun in spring and autumn. This is where thousands of starlings gather at dusk to swoop through the sky, pulling in spectators from across the country. We have something similar here in Brighton, where the starlings gather over the remains of the West Pier to dance across the sky in mysterious murmurations for a few minutes each evening. Head out into nature to see what you can discover, and make an evening of it with a flask of something warm.
What are you going to be doing this autumn to fuel the hygge in your life?