How to Hygge
The Nordic Secrets to A Happy LifeBook - 2017
The "Danish coziness" philosophy is fast becoming the new "French living" in terms of aspirational lifestyle books and blogs. There are countless viral articles comparing the happiness levels of Americans versus Danes. Their homes are more homey; their people are more cheerful. It's an attitude that defies definition, but there is a name for this slow-moving, stress-free mindset: hygge (pronounced "hoo-ga"). Hygge values the idea of cherishing yourself: candlelight, bakeries, and dinner with friends; a celebration of experiences over possessions, as well as being kind to yourself and treasuring a sense of community.
How to Hygge by chef and author Signe Johansen is a fresh, informative, lighthearted, fully illustrated how-to guide to hygge. It's a combination of recipes, helpful tips for cozy living at home, and cabin porn: essential elements of living the Danish way--which, incidentally, encourages a daily dose of "healthy hedonism." Who can resist that?
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Journalist Helen Russell introduced the western world to the Danish concept of hygge in her 2015 book, The Year of Living Danishly. Pronounced “heu-ga” (sort of), hygge has become the next trending phenomenon of house and home, the creation of the comfortable feeling of well-being one gets from being surrounded by favourite things, favourite people and following favourite pursuits, particularly in the darker months of winter. It is similar to, but the opposite of mindfulness – taking pleasure in the simple things and ‘small adventures’, but doing so in companionship with others. Given that Danes are considered one of the happiest populations in the world, and that they share a common landscape and seasons with Canada, hygge is a concept for which Canadians should feel a definite affinity.
The publishing world has taken note, and there are numerous hygge books on the market now; chef and food writer Signe Johanson’s is probably one of the most beautiful. The texture of the book itself is hygge… a fabric cover, non-glossy pages, lovely photographs, and sprinklings of advice, recipes and designing decor tips on how to cultivate your own atmosphere of hygge. Warm knits, candlelight, (surprisingly healthy) comfort food… it sounds heavenly, no?
However Johansen’s book has one thing the others (I have seen so far) do not… an emphasis on the outdoors. As much as hygge can appear to be the delight of cocooning oneself against the winter, Johanson insists that one does this after making time to be active outside, no matter the weather – to delay the gratification of a cozy evening after doing what you can, what your body allows you to do, outside. Skiing, certainly, but walking, hiking, having a snowball fight, building a snowfort, or even going for a swim (indoors!) and feeling the tingle of cold air on one’s still damp hair afterward, before retreating to your warmest, fleece-lined sofa-corner for a cup of tea. Or gløgg, of course. The recipe is included. Happy hygge!
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