From about 2016 to 2018, there was a big hype around ‘hygge’. This was despite the fact that no one really agreed on the right way to pronounce it or its vague definition as a, ‘quality of cosiness’. Hygge was fashionable, profitable and as anything advertised, always slightly unobtainable. During that period I worked in a bookshop and each Christmas, books about how to get hygge and how to stack wood (really) were consistent best sellers. We craved permission to get cosy, comfortable and to do so in the most instagrammable and aesthetic way. As everything does, the hype around hygge faded and other concepts have trended since. Yet, if you look closely, the craving for hygge never really went away and with good reason.
To be hygge is to embrace “a feeling of cosy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.” In fact, hygge has been an integral part of Danish culture since the 1800s when the word first appeared in written language, where it stemmed from the norwegian word for ‘wellbeing’. One key element to create a hygge atmosphere is to light candles. Presumably as hygge is about the simple life then it leans into its heritage and away from the glare of the modern day.
Perhaps as a knock-on effect of the many covid lockdowns when we all had to find comfort indoors and everybody decided the way to do that was to bake banana bread, the trend for hygge is still thriving – even if under a different guise. From the 2010’s onwards there was the rise of cottage-core, which romanticised simple rural living. It may have crested its peak as a trend but from this summer’s fashion for puff sleeved dresses showed, it remains popular. This August the Huffington Post published an article about the ‘anti-hustle’, where Gen Z and Millennials reject the hustle work culture that has been the staple and goal for so long. Instead, they are seeking slower lifestyles to compliment their work life balance and are wary of the burn-out work culture that became so normal.
Now, we can’t all wave a magic wand, quit a highflying corporate job in the big city and buy a picturesque cottage in Wiltshire. It sounds like a British version of the plot to a ‘Fall’ Hallmark movie. We can however, follow the trend of cottage core, hygge and slow-living and take bits and pieces from each of these cultural movements to make our Winter feel a little softer, sweeter and cosier. When over 2 million people in the Uk are known to suffer from Seasonal Depression, or the ‘Winter Blues, embracing elements from this gentler, cosier way of life can brighten up our winters.
Halloween is the perfect marker to start. At Halloween we: light candles, we often get together with friends (a key and often overlooked element of Hygge), we carve a seasonal vegetable (pumpkin), often decorate with them (gourds) and eat that vegetable (pumpkin soup). Already these are things that hark back to an ancient heritage, a rural ideal and a cosy, simpler way of living. Discover how else we can embrace out hygge this Halloween
What To Watch:
I love scary movies – the jumpier the better. However, they aren’t everybody’s cup of tea and a good way to feel more cosy and safe is to dip into a bit of nostalgia. Whether you curl up solo under your favourite blanket and light a scented candle, or invite a few friends over here are a few perfect movie choices this Halloween.
First would be Hocus Pocus – a family favourite and a great one to re-visite. Next, Practical Magic – a great movie for Autumn/ Winter, suitably witchy, stylish, aesthetic and 90’s nostalgic. Finally, Scream – with so many remakes, prequels and sequels, sometimes you just have to go back to the start.
What To Read:
Autumn and Winter are the seasons for ‘cosy crime’. Regarded as more ‘twee’ than modern crime, cosy crime refers to the crime thriller novels that don’t linger on the gore, violence or any thing of a graphic nature. Thik more Agatha Christie than Lisa Jewell. Crime and thriller books are a brilliant read in Winter because they are often atmospheric and very absorbing. If you want to rest in the escapist idyll of cottage core then cosy crime could be the perfect compliment. Click the link to discover the guardian guide to some great cosy crime.
What To Eat:
For some, autumn and winter spell pumpkin spiced lattes and cinnamon cookies. For others, it’s more about stews and soups. Halloween is a great time to tip toe into Hygge by using what you have already purchased and engaged with. Discover links to make the perfect pumpkin soup , pumpkin pie and a Dorset sourdough starter. Making your own sourdough is a great way to take some time to get back to simple living in a way that is good for your gut health (thanks to the fermentation) and a practical necessity (again, lockdown really showed up our reliance on bread).
Where To Go:
Getting into nature and enjoying the fresh air is another key element of the hygge lifestyle. During the Summer months you can visit Dorset Adventure Park, enjoy the fresh lake water as you bounce across the inflatable obstacle courses. You can challenge yourselves to complete the mud obstacle course along the mud trail. In the winter months when places like Dorset Adventure Park are closed, we have to turn to the landscape as our outdoor adventure parks. Luckily, Dorset is an area of outstanding natural beauty and there are plenty of breathtakingly beautiful walks, hikes and trails you can take. There is nothing more hygge than to go for a walk in the woods, or stomp across the cliffs before coming home to get cosy. Click on the link for a great guide provided by Countryfile for some beautiful walks in Dorset for your outdoor adventures.
Words by Olivia Lowry.