HYGGE is set to become the biggest trend in publishing since decluttering.
Remember Marie Kondo’s books urging the world to clean up its act through myriad matte pages of streamlined styling.
I’m yet to arrest my mess in any meaningful way but I’m a longtime fan of hygge.
Hygge, pronounced “hoo-gah”, is a Danish concept rooted in creating a warm and cosy atmosphere with loved ones every single day.
It is partly credited with making the Danes the happiest people in the world in survey after survey, year after year. Denmark took the top spot on the United Nation’s World Happiness Report in 2012, 2013 and 2016. (Their free healthcare, dental care and education from the cradle to the grave, 34-hour working week and generous paid parental leave may also put a smile on their collective dial.)
There are four books on the subject of hygge written or translated in English due for release in the northern hemisphere autumn this year.
From a Norwegian word meaning "wellbeing", hygge first appeared in Danish writing in the 19th Century and has evolved into the cultural norm in Denmark. The Germans have a similar term but less entrenched concept and the closest translation in the English language is “cosy”.
Hygge is sitting around a fire pit, baking a cake, eating ice cream, savouring a glass of wine, watching a movie under a doona, wearing hand-knitted socks, eating pastries for Sunday breakfast, the Disney movie and lollies on Friday nights for the kids and just about anything and everything done by candlelight.
When I visited a Danish girlfriend and her family for five days in July she was concerned we had sold ourselves short on hygge time.
We had allowed time for theme parks and museums but had we factored in enough time for leisurely lunches, bike rides, bonfires, cups of tea and crochet?
The Danes burn more candles per capita than any other country in the world.
When we dropped in on another friend in July, he took a call from his wife who was already on summer holidays in Turkey, waiting for him to join her.
“She needs me to bring more candles,” he says, matter-of-factly, afterwards.
With up to 16 hours of darkness a day mid-winter, the Danes take pleasure in all of the activities suited to the colder months.
In an attempt to see how much extra hygge I could bring to the table in Albury, we burnt candles at dinner every night during July and August this year.
By the second week in, our five-year-old had stopped asking could she blow out the candles and make a wish. By mid-August both our girls reminded me if I’d forgotten to light the candles in the dining room.
We went through three packets of tea candles and my entire stash of unscented, white dinner candles, but everyone sat at the table longer and had more to say. Sometimes dinner lasted 45 minutes mid-week and I wondered how we’d ever fit all this hygge in!
Come springtime I tried to go candle-free with a bright and breezy dinner at the kitchen bench, but the girls were not having a bar of it.
They’re hygge converts.
They have seen the light.
Interestingly, wellbeing books tend to urge readers to make a list of all the things they enjoy doing and then do at least one of them every single day.
Sounds a lot like hygge.