Not exactly hygge…

Much talk on the interweb of something Danish called hygge – now I’m quite fond of the odd Danish export – pastries for instance, Vikings, Sandi Toksvig (in small doses), Pilsner, Hamlet, but I’m considerably less fond of Nordic Noir, marinated herring and Danish bacon.


Hygge sounds lovely – cosy nights with friends gathered around a real fire, wearing Fair Isle jumpers and hand-knitted socks, while drinking hot chocolate and having a good old laugh. But just in case the whole hygge thing leaves you feeling a bit overwhelmed, here is my alternative ‘hygge-lite’ for the slightly more socially anxious amongst us – it’s my tried and tested introverts recipe for surviving the cold winter months…

Light a few candles: I’m with the Danes on this one, candlelight always makes me feel relaxed. I dot them about the sitting room and kitchen, pillars and tea-lights mainly, bought from the blessed IKEA (isn’t it lovely that we Brits actually burn candles these days – it wasn’t until IKEA came to the UK with their cheap candles that we stopped dusting our single pair of red dinner candles off once a year at Christmas and lit them instead).

Pile up some duvets and blankets on the sofas: Probably as a result of having no functioning central heating for several years (happily now rectified), we’ve become used to wrapping ourselves in fleecy blankets or duvets on cold winter evenings while watching the TV.

Cook stews in a slowcooker: I’m such a fan of these ’70s throwbacks. Chuck a few vegetables, scrag end, a stock cube and tin of tomatoes into the cooker in the morning and when it’s dinner time you’ll have a delicious effortless meal ready to go and a house that smells wonderful. Make enough for two nights and slap a piece of ready-rolled puff pastry over the left-over stew to make a pie. (I’m a vegetarian now, but I still crave a pastry crust and lashings of thick gravy).

Pour yourself a glass of single malt whisky: There’s nothing better for keeping out the cold and making you feel mellow than a dram or two of whisky. Try something peaty from Islay, Laphroaig or Lagavulin, or if you’re feeling very brave (or have the ‘flu) try Talisker from Skye. If peaty flavours aren’t your thing, try Dalwhinnie or Bunnahabhain instead, both pure amber gorgeousness.

Read your way through a series of crime fiction or supernatural novels: My favourites are still the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, the Inspector Rebus novels by Ian Rankin and Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series set in the Welsh Marches. They’re easy enough to pick up in charity shops and by the time you’ve read them all it will probably be spring.

Curled up on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet with a glass of whisky and full up on stew, reading a whodunnit paperback while candles flicker in the hearth – that’ll be me…

How’s hygge for you? – any tips for embracing your inner Dane? Do tell…


20 thoughts on “Not exactly hygge…

  1. Lovely, lovely, lovely ❤ I’m with you on the stew, especially with the addition of dumplings, but I’m rather partial to good old cheese on toast – or Heinz’s Cream of Tomato soup…
    Also like to snuggle with blankets on the sofa and as for the drink – a brandy mac goes down well. Ellis Peters yes, or the books she wrote as Edith Pargeter; and I’ve always had a soft spot for Dorothy L Sayers 🎩

    1. Oooh yes, Dorothy, I’d forgotten her – might go back through the Peter Wimseys – I loved them! Yes too to cheese on toast – top comfort food x

  2. I’m with you for most of this, though I do like Nordic noir in both TV and written versions. Good selection of single malts too. If you want to try something different Glenfarclas from Speyside is very good. The 17 year old goes down a treat. A bit expensive alas, but if you’re due a special treat?

  3. I’m with you for all of those! I think you might like the Gervaise Fen mysteries by Edmund Crispin – humourous gentle books written from the ’40s to the late ’70s. Also Balvenie DoubleWood!

    1. I shall go and look for them – the books and the DoubleWood – quite partial to the usual Balvenie (and the castle there…), I can feel my Christmas list getting longer x

  4. Our hygge is a full basket of logs, the dog snoring gently in front of the woodburner (heaven help the humans if they want to get close to the stove!), patchwork quilts for extra snuggling, and being very grateful for double glazing and a new roof whilst the weather does it’s worst.

    1. A woodburner is something I’d love to have, but I think it will have to wait until we move west – (hopefully once the Number Two Daughte finishes Sixth Form)… – sounds perfect and I’m certain our dog would thoroughly approve.

  5. This made me smile. I wish someone in the British Isles could come up with a word to rival hygge as I’m sure we’ve been doing all these things for years without giving it a name. Always Sloe Gin for me instead of whisky and along with your selection, crime fiction by Louise Penny, which makes me long to visit Canada or Ellie Griffiths to entice me back to Norfolk.

    1. I agree, it’s not as if the Danes have a monopoly on living through long winter nights…

      Thank you for the recommendations, managed to find an Ellie Griffiths in a local charity shop yesterday, so looking forward to the read.

  6. In the UK word additions and usage are very much linked to big business and advertising. If you are into afternoon tea, cup-cakes and Frank Sinatra music you are into vintage. You like playing board games or watching old films, it’s retro. Open fires, candles and woolly jumpers are Scandi or Nordic. Cosy coffee shops, bicycles and book reading in public is hipster. Dress up for a snug 30’s style jazz bar and it’s nostalgia. What we do has to be linked to a label or fad, which is more for the benefit of advertisers than any one. What the word hygge does if give a word to the feeling behind all of these pastimes. If you identify that it’s the feeling that works the magic and not the products then how will advertisers sell those vintage floral tea sets, impractical fixed gear bicycles, and hugely overpriced scented candles? We could use hygge but we have to be careful it’s not hijacked by the advertisers to sell expensive blankets and naff Christmas decorations. Hygge is not a fashion fad or a movement it’s a name for stuff that has always existed.

    1. Well said, but this ‘gamekeeper-turned-poacher’ where marketing is concerned, fears it’s too late for hygge – I’d say the advertisers already have it sewn up. Doesn’t stop us stabbing the odd pin in the marketing balloon from time to time though…

Leave a Reply to AbuEmma Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s