In the last few weeks, amid the deluge of posts about hygge, I’ve seen a few creeping through talking about how it’s smug, it’s ‘ruining London’ and it’s Denmark’s ‘least welcome import’. I think it goes without saying that I think this is all pure nonsense, and I can’t help but wonder how many of these are being commissioned by editors trying to be subversive in the face of autumn 2016’s biggest trend. Unfortunately, a lot of these pieces just don’t get it right – it’s understandable, seeing as we’ve gone from 0-100mph in the space of about two months… but while the word itself may be new to most people, the concept is probably quite familiar. I’m never one to shy away from offering my opinion, so let’s take a look at some of these criticisms and have a little talk about why I’m right.
“Hygge is smug”
NO. NO NO NO. If you think hygge is smug, go back to hygge school and have a long hard think about what you’re saying. Hygge is integral to the lives of Danes – ALL Danes. Yes, there are plenty of companies cashing in on the hygge trend, but you don’t NEED all those expensive things for hygge. It’s not just for the middle classes who are able and willing to go out and blow £80 on a candle (sidenote: don’t ever blow £80 on a candle). In Denmark, hygge is something enjoyed by everyone, whether they’re rolling in kroner or not. As I’ve said many times before, it’s intangible. You can buy things to help you cultivate a more hyggeligt atmosphere, sure, but you can’t buy hygge. I like the (French) ‘hygge is/hygge is not’ list in this piece – hygge is a cup of steaming tea, playing with Lego and a photo album. Hygge is not champagne, molecular cuisine or caviar. Hardly elitist, is it? Good, I’m glad that’s settled. Next!
“Hygge keeps people indoors”
Hahaha. Hahahahahaha. OK, sure, but also no. Maybe if you didn’t get any further than page 1 of the hygge guidebook (which, surprisingly, I don’t think exists yet), then you think hygge is about sitting in front of a fire in woolly socks clutching a hot chocolate. But hygge is so much more than this! I’m constantly banging on about the fact that you can hygge anywhere, and it’s true! This evening on my way home from work I noticed the sky was ablaze with crimson and mandarin and I had my own little burst of hygge on the bus. It reminded me of the skies last winter, and the times that went with them, and it was glorious. Get outside and enjoy autumn! Go for a woodland walk! Take a seaside stroll! Go for a ramble which just happens to take you past 12 country pubs! Go stargazing! Carry on building that conker collection! There’s no need to languish inside waiting for hygge to happen. Get out in the world. Do it. It’s everywhere.
“Hygge is antisocial”
This aspect of hygge is hugely misunderstood. Don’t get me wrong – I love not going clubbing and binging on films as much as the next Brit. But it’s absolutely not antisocial. It’s a different type of socialising. You can hygge alone, but as with many things, it’s best enjoyed with others. As Meik Wiking said when I spoke to him, it’s about finding the right people. If spending time with your best friends and family is antisocial, then sure, call it that. But I totally disagree. There is nothing wrong with spending time with the people who make you happy. Danes don’t spend all winter sitting alone surrounded with candles (though I would totally be up for that). They spend it in cafés, throwing dinner parties, with intimate, casual drinks, meeting up for a wander and a chat. Especially in winter, there are already so many social occasions going on. For introverts like me, it’s exhausting – fun, but exhausting. I love knowing I can recharge in situations where I don’t have to be ‘on’ for hours on end, and hygge is perfect for that.
“Hygge is unromantic”
Some people believe hygge is all about letting yourself go, not making an effort and slobbing out on the sofa all the time. However, that’s obviously not true. Danes are known for their effortless style (note: style, not fashion), so hygge leading to ‘letting yourself go’ is clearly rubbish. Besides, hygge gives you a great opportunity to spend quality time with your loved one. That could be cooking dinner together, going for a bike ride, spending a night in watching films under blankets (yes, it is allowed – ignore the haters), going for late-night cocktails… whatever you want. What the hell is unromantic about that? Candlelight, great food, being 100% comfortable… sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
“Hygge is for the Danes”
Ah, this old chestnut. True, there are some Danes who believe that this is the case. But while the word may be Danish and Danish alone, the concept certainly isn’t. Maybe one day we’ll have an English word for it, maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter – we can all do it everywhere. I’ve hygged in Lisbon, in New York, in London, in Iceland, in Finland, in Toronto, in Marrakech – and yes, in Denmark. It’s all been great. I fully intend to hygge all over the world. Hygge may start at home, but it would be silly to let it end there.
Got any more hygge myths for me to bust? Let me know – it’s up to us hygge enthusiasts to set the record straight!