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Posts Tagged ‘Hygge’

How To Hygge Up Your Christmas

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In a previous article, the Danish concept of hygge and its role in today’s lifestyle was looked at. The use of natural, environment-friendly items and a cozy room set up everyone can enjoy are two of the leading themes in the hygge design. All these habits are rooted in the main objective: to appreciate the simple joys in life.

Apart from the fact that hygge is essentially effective all year round, it has a significant place in Danish Christmas celebrations. As  Meik Wiking would say, “it’s the most hyggelig time of the year.” In this season, hygge is exceptionally cherished everywhere in the country.

As we enter the holiday season, it is the perfect time to consider applying hygge to bring comfort and warmth into our homes and families. It is especially favorable for those who are still going through another lockdown period in the face of the new variant of COVID-19 and wish to have a festive, yet safe Christmas. Below are several ideas on how you can decorate your Christmas hygge style.

  1. Light up your candles

    Remember the first rule: no candles, no hygge. Aside from advent candles, you can also either purchase scented or organic ones in various sizes. If you go for scented candles, pick soft fragrances for an utmost cozy atmosphere. Nevertheless, there are a lot of brands out there that provide holiday-themed candles you may consider as well, such as pine, cinnamon, and even candy cane.

    Feel free to put the candles anywhere in the house; on the dining table, along the windowsill, around the fireplace, you name it. Not only does the light add to the homely atmosphere, but it will also elevate the aesthetic aspect of the room. You can choose to keep it lit the whole day, the Danes usually light up some advent candles for only an hour each day throughout December.

    Most importantly, make sure you put them in a safe place. Avoid areas where the candles can fall easily, such as on top of stacked books (some people do it, but it is not entirely safe). If you have kids, best to keep the candles out of their playing area. You do not want to set fire to your house, right?

  2. Set up your own hyggekrog

    Entering the festive season does not necessarily mean that you do not have time for yourself. After working hard the whole year, you deserve to enjoy this holiday by having a peaceful rest and doing hobbies you did not have the chance to do much, such as reading for entertainment purposes. Setting up a hyggekrog or a reading nook where you can cozy up with a warm blanket, soft cushions, and your favorite book in hand sounds like a perfect holiday plan.

    Larger seating options, such as a sofa bed or a corner sofa, might be more applicable for houses with big spaces. For those who have limited living space, worry not! You can try using an armchair or even lay a simple rug then add a nice blanket and pillows. Best to have this set up next to the window so you can savor the view of either a winter wonderland or rain pouring outside your house.

  3. Decorate your home with nature

    A hygge Christmas is dominated by neutral and earthy colors. White, beige, and sage are among the color options you may want to bear in mind. However, it does not necessarily mean that you are not allowed to use the primary Christmas colors. Combining these two palettes in your decor will help you achieve a harmonious look.

    One interesting Danish Christmas tradition is cutting down a pine tree right from the forest and bringing it into the house so people can decorate it with candles. Talk about being deeply connected to nature; bringing in natural elements into the house will amplify your hygge experience. However, if it is too much of a task to have a freshly-cut Christmas tree, you may opt for smaller natural decorations that are easier to find, such as branches, leaves, acorns, and pines. 

  4. Create your own DIY decorations

    There are several ways to make a DIY project with natural elements. One option is to arrange the leaves into a garland which you can further decorate with Christmas lights, ball ornaments, ribbons, and pine cones. Another idea is to attach the branches on the wall then add hanging stars or Christmas bells underneath.

    If you are feeling even more creative, crafting your own natural advent wreath will not only boost the overall look of the house but also sharpen your skills. You will need some straw, wires, and spruce. Essentially, you need to wrap and weave the straw and wires into several layers to make sure you have a strong base. Then, layer the spruce on top of the wreath and decorate it with greenery, pine cones, ribbons, and other Christmas decorations of your choice.

    Additionally, figures of nisse (an elf or gnome), animals, and Father Christmas, as well as woven paper hearts made of glossy paper often adorn the houses in Denmark. These paper hearts are especially unique crafts to the Danes. They’re fashioned from two double-layered glossy paper cutouts, with the flaps of the two cutouts weaved together to form the heart shape.

    Aside from the paper cutouts, glossy paper is often used to wrap Christmas gifts. Exchanging presents has indeed been an innate tradition of Christmas as a form of shared happiness. However, most of the regular types of paper used to wrap gifts are not good for the environment because they are rarely recyclable. What can we do to avoid this?

  5. Use eco-friendly gift wraps

    In spite of the fact that people still widely use conventional ink-printed gift wraps, some of which are made of foil or plastic, most recyclers consider them difficult to process. It has become a problem because recyclers usually need additional chemicals to get rid of the ink when recycling wrapping paper. Taking this into account, there are some sustainable alternatives you can consider utilizing.

    You may be familiar with kraft paper, which is a brown paper used to wrap packages, shopping bags, and lunch sacks. Despite its plain look, kraft paper is recyclable so you do not have to worry about polluting the earth during this festive season. Besides, you can decorate kraft paper with dried flowers and ribbons to make your Christmas gift look elegant and pretty.

    Another recyclable and biodegradable gift wrap is newsprint. Using old newspapers makes the gift look vintage–which is in line with the spirit of hygge as it favors the nostalgic value of vintage items. Even so, newsprint with ink usually takes longer to biodegrade. Otherwise, you may opt to use repurposed gift wrap, such as old magazines or nice packaging you have from buying certain products.

    Nonetheless, the easiest and probably the quickest packaging you can find in a gift bag. You can choose between those made of paper or fabric, such as a tote bag. It is convenient and reusable; recipients of the gifts can reuse it for when they shop or gift another person in the future.

As the main purpose of hygge is to create a joyful experience through simplicity, you can still pass on the festive spirit of Christmas while still being considerate to the surroundings by prioritizing a homely atmosphere and the use of eco-friendly materials. In the age of heightened consumerism where people prefer fancy things that often harm the environment, hygge emphasizes going back to nature which is one foundation for the existing concept of modern lifestyle. Hopefully, this ignites new and interesting ideas that you can try with your loved ones at home this holiday season.

And with that, have a merry hygge Christmas!

Hygge: Exploring the Danish Concept of Comfort

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Derived from Danish culture, hygge (pronounced as hoo-gah) has become one of the many influential concepts society has today in creating spaces and building community. Looking back to its origins when Denmark and Norway were bounded as a kingdom, hygge actually comes from the Norwegian language that could be translated into “well-being”. In the early 1800s, the Danes adopted it as a concept to refer to “happiness” and it has been embodied in the heart of Danish culture ever since.

What does hygge look like in the present day? Currently, hygge is showing a strong, promising continuity in the 21st century among the Danes and has expanded its reach around the world through popular literature, such as “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking. There is no strict implementation as the concept itself is embedded in both tangible and intangible aspects of Danish culture. 

On the tangible part, hygge is often associated with the coziness of a place. Its concept of simplicity and its nature as an appreciation for the simple joys in life has become a popular trend in interior and exterior design. It promotes a kind of aesthetic that gives spaces a rustic and homey feeling. Additionally, a 2018 research showed hygge as a principle that can be applied to build a sustainable, smart home due to its low-energy approach.

Meanwhile, the intangible value of hygge lies within social relationships. The Danes are known for their close-knitted relationships with friends and families which encourages equality and strong social circles. In this manner, hygge is not only manifested as a certain decor for social events but also as the sense of belonging resulting from being connected with loved ones.

Developing hygge through social connections

According to The World Happiness Report 2020, Nordic countries are among the happiest countries in the world, including Denmark. One of the reasons for this is their great respect for friendships and relationships with their loved ones. Specifically, the Danes tend to form small social circles with whom they bond and spend their hygge time. The significant level of social and institutional trust contributes to the increase in happiness and reduction of social inequality.

In the context of daily life, hygge is manifested through thoughtfulness in social interactions. This implies that no one competes to get into the center of attention so that everybody receives a fair chance to participate and feel welcomed. Equality and togetherness are the fundamental elements of hygge, and thus, the very heart of Danish culture.

Hygge is embedded in the way people make each other feel comfortable and relaxed. A lot of activities can be done to share the warmth of hygge with your loved ones, even as simple as hanging out after work or having a movie night on the weekend. The idea is to have quality time and make meaningful memories through small things.

Your home can be a good start to build a hygge kind of living. Someone once said that the “home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.” Organizing your home in a way that makes others feel comfortable and welcomed is the next aspect of hygge.

Creating a hygge home

The main focus of a hygge home is how to create a hygge-like atmosphere, or a hyggelig as the Danes like to call it. Take a look around your own home and check the space and materials; can you find any sign of hygge? Below are some key aspects worth considering.

  1. Hyggekrog

    Roughly translated as a nook, hyggekrog is an important part of a Danish home. This is basically a reading spot where you can cozy up with a warm blanket, read your favorite book, or relax with a cup of warm beverage. Several seating options are available, with the simplest one being an armchair. If you want to go all-in, you can opt for a sofa bed, corner sofa, or add a nice ottoman to your armchair arrangement.

    There is no fixed location to build a hyggekrog; some might have it in the living room, kitchen, or study room. It would be a plus point if the hyggekrog is placed by the window so you may get a natural ambiance to add to the coziness. You can also spruce the space up with some thick knitted blankets and cushions. Placing a big wooden bookshelf nearby would be a great idea as well to complete the hyggekrog setup.

  2. Lighting

    Lighting is another core aspect of hygge as it centers around aesthetic and sustainable values in being visually pleasing and environmentally friendly. Due to the western origin of hygge, having a fireplace is a crucial component as it not only helps set the mood but is also a necessity for people to survive the cold winter. It is also manifested through the use of natural light, candles, and low-energy electric lighting.

    A fireplace might not be applicable for those living in other parts of the world that don’t have four seasons. An alternative element you can utilize is a candle which is a must-have item to create the perfect hyggelig ambiance. In Denmark, organic candles tend to be preferred over scented ones to preserve the natural simplicity of hygge, but of course, this is subject to personal preference.

  1. Furniture and decoration

    The highlight of hygge decor is the use of natural things such as items made of wood, leaves, and roots. Wooden chairs, plants by the windowsill, and an acorn wreath on the wall are just some examples of how you can make use of such rustic items. They make a perfect pair with candles or a fireplace to amplify the jolly and warm atmosphere, especially for a hyggelig evening with family and friends.

    Vintage items such as ceramics are also often seen in a hygge home. Aside from their aesthetic aspects, vintage items usually hold a sentimental, nostalgic value that elicits happiness by remembering the good old times. You can reuse some old items from your childhood and breathe new life into them as decor, or find something interesting in a nearby vintage shop. On that note, be mindful of your purchase so that it will not end up as clutter.

To conclude, the concept of hygge emphasizes generating happiness through the connection between people and the environment. Appreciating the simple joys of life is the main value that inspires the way the Danes configure their surroundings. Christmas may be a perfect season to apply hygge in your home as you gather with loved ones to celebrate and have a good time. Even if you do not celebrate it, practicing hygge will bring warmth into your house during seasons of warmth and cold, sun and rain, and all year round.

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