The Danish way to Live Well
By Meik Wiking from the Happiness Research Institute Copenhagen
The word on everyone’s lips last year was ‘Hygge’, despite most English people being unable to pronounce it correctly. Luckily when this book arrived on my desk I had a Norwegian staying with me so we had a few lessons in how to make the guttural sound at the end of the word. As the whole of the UK is currently covered in snow I felt this has to be the correct time to publish this review.
The word Hygge comes from an old Viking language and was used to describe comfort and relaxation after coming in from a day out in the cold, but it is oh so much more than just that. Hygge is about atmosphere and experience rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love and a feeling of safety and warmth, being with friends and letting your guard down.
The little book of Hygge breaks down some of the elements that go to make Hygge. This includes hot drinks, fires, slow food, board games, hand made crafts, sweets and cakes, holiday and music. Candles are important, the Danes burn more candles than any other nation in Europe and almost twice as much as Austria who come second. Mind you if you live so far North of the equator, a way of creating light is important.
As with all the Scandinavian countries, the Danes are concerned with good design, particularly with the correct lights and lighting. “Danes select lamps carefully and place them strategically to create soothing pools of light.”
The rule of thumb is the lower the temperature the lower light, making more Hygge.
Reading this book what struck me was that Hygge is the art of creating the kind of childhood some of us were lucky enough to grow up with, before the day of mobile phones, daytime television and the internet. It is a more humble simple and comforting way of living. Buy the Little Book of Hygge and learn how to live well as the Danes do. Enjoy the snow keep warm and enjoy those Hygge moments.