Hygge is a great word and an even better lifestyle phenomenon. Pronounced HOO-ga (preferably with your best fake Danish accent), hygge is the Danish art of being cozy. Now that it has been heralded as the newest trendy lifestyle, all sorts of hygge how-to handbooks have been cropping up, which offer the chance to be magically, Danishly, cozy.
The sudden popularity of hygge is far from surprising, as far as lifestyle trends go — staying inside and being cozy is far more palatable than having to “tidy up” your life and throw out your shit. Personally, it took me very little convincing to get on board. Actually, it took me no convincing at all, I saw the winsome cover design of Meik Wiking’s “The Little Book of Hygge,” and I was immediately sold. (Good graphics get me every time!)
Apart from being a ridiculously attractive book, “The Little Book of Hygge” claims to contain “Danish secrets to happy living” as pronounced by the author, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen. I’m hesitant to believe anyone who purports that a single thing can guarantee happiness, but I suppose if there’s one person qualified to do so, it would be an actual happiness researcher.
So I went about applying the books findings to my own life to see if living cozy would really make me happier. The good news is the major tenets of hygge are well suited for dorm life. Thankfully, you only need a couple of inexpensive ingredients to achieve hygge nirvana, all of which I had lying around my dorm room.
Hygge is best experienced in weather that makes you want to stay cooped up indoors. Thankfully, that describes just about every day of Michigan weather. The night of my quest for supreme hygge-dom, there was a substantial downpour of freezing rain. And it was, in part, this bout of miserable weather that inspired me to try out the fad in the first place.
Step one, find yourself a nook, or as Danes call it, a hyggekrog. The book explains it as “the place in the room where you love to snuggle up in a blanket, with a book, and a cup of tea.” It can be anywhere, just as long as it is small and cozy. Lucky for me, my entire room is shockingly small, and can be considered a sufficient hyggekrog.
Up next: candles. Candles are essential for hygge; according to the book, “no recipe for hygge is complete without candles. When Danes are asked what they associate with hygge, an overwhelming 85 percent will mention candles.” I have just the right thing, a small glass candle that fills my room with the sweetest aroma — the scent of of a laundromat. Quick note: Candles are expressly forbidden in dorms, if you’re going to light one anyway, make sure to do it in a manner that does not trigger the alarm, or set the place ablaze.
You can’t be hyggeligt (adjective form of hygge) without being comfortable. So a change of clothes was in order. I went with flannel pajamas, but anything warm and soft will do. The book put a surprising amount of emphasis on the importance of a good pair of flannel socks. So much so that I wouldn’t be surprised to discover the book was secretly sponsored by a flannel sock business conglomerate. Well, I don’t have flannel socks. So I compromised with a pair of fuzzy socks instead (which I happen to think are far superior, anyway).
The last thing I needed, according to my hygge book, was some indulgent food. The author recommends chocolate, cake or snobrød, none of which I had on hand. So instead I whipped out some leftover chicken lo mein I was saving for a rainy day. (In truth, the excuse to eat Chinese food was all I needed).
So I sat on my bed, swaddled in blankets, eating lo mein in my pajamas, while watching “Lord of the Rings” (“The Fellowship of the Ring,” in case you were curious). It was blissful. But it wasn’t enlightening. It doesn’t take a genius to know comfy clothes and food will make you happier, temporarily. However, my night, and the beautifully illustrated book itself, were both very enjoyable. Give the book a read, give the trend a try, just don’t expect anything life-altering.