'Hygge': 9 Ways To Be More Danish

From warming bowls of porridge to candlelit dinners, we explore how to achieve the Danes' coveted 'hygge'

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Whether it's the fact Danes boast the happiest workforce in the world, get 52 weeks parental leave and are renowned for their delicious sweet pastries, the idea of living in Denmark is becoming increasingly more tempting for us Brits.

But, what we're really after is the country's 'hygge'.

Pronounced 'hue-ugh', this is the Danish coined phrase that can be translated simply as 'cosiness' in English.

According to author of The Little Book of Hygge Meik Wiking, 'hygge' can be defined as 'Togetherness, relaxations, indulgence, presence and comfort. It all boils down to the pursuit of everyday happiness – the art of creating intimacy and cocoa by candlelight.'

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Sound good, of course it does, it's Danish.

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And 'hygge' is going to be all you're going to hear about this Autumn as books on the subject continue to hit the shelves (there's already been nine this year) in a bid to educate Britain on how to get more 'hygge', such as The Art of Hygge, How to Hygge and Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures, Living the Danish Way out later this month.

But, why are Danes so good at 'hygge', in particular?

Meik explains: 'Danes are aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing. After our basic needs are met, more money doesn't lead to more happiness and, instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.'

We've rounded up 9 ways to achieve more more 'hygge' in our lives. Pastries at the ready!

Buy candles

Have you ever noticed how there always a candlelit garden, teamed with twinkling lights, fireflies and an open fire in romantic comedies? Well, it looks like this is a ploy by Hollywood to tap into our desire to have more 'hygge'.

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According to the European Candle Assocaition, Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere in Europe, such is their devotion to 'hygge'. When you go home tonight, light some candlelights, wrap yourself up in a blanket and drink a warming cup of hot chocolate.

Make Tebirkes

Tebirkes (Danish poppy seed rolls) are to Denmark what pasta is to Italy. The Danes eat around 10 kilos of pastries and cakes each year and are most famed for their Danish pastry, otherwise known as 'Wienerbrød' so it makes sense that they're all so happy – they're eating pastry all day long!

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A big part of 'hygge' is indulging in what you enjoy and never denying yourself of enjoyment. Try baking a tray of buttered dough tebirkes, covered in poppy seeds and eat your way to 'hygge'.

Cycle everywhere

Regularly voted one of the happiest countries in the world, Denmark is well-known for its devotion to bicycles. In fact, in Copenhagen there are more bikes than inhabitants with almost 400 kilometers of biking lanes throughout the city.

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As exercise increases levels of dopamine in your brain (the 'happy hormone'), try spending at least 2.5hrs partaking in the aerobic exercise to raise your heart rate and enjoy some fresh air.

Start dropping the word 'hygge' into everyday conversation

'I can't come out tonight, I'm going to get some 'hygge''

'Er, have you seen what Rachel is wearing? She's so 'hygge' at the moment.'

'Anyone have a lighter? I want to light some candles before the party to give it that 'hygge' feel.'

The more you talk about 'hygge', the easier it'll be to achieve it.

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Wiking advises: 'Our language shapes our behaviour - and our behaviour shapes our happiness. A rose by any other name may still smell as sweet - but it should have a name. Feel free to use ours – it's is called 'hygge'.'

The word 'hygge' will be your new best friend.

Don't stay late after work

Danes and they value their family and spare time highly. This, coupled with it getting dark around 4pm in the winter, means they love nothing more than finishing work on time and heading home to spend time with their loved ones.

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Women work an average of 35 hours a week (compared to 41 hours a week for men) and employees are expected to work Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm. As a result, Danes don't appreciate working overtime or staying late to finish their work.

Adopt the Dane work ethic by working intensely during the day and clock off on time to go home and eat dinner with family and friends.

Take lunch at 11am

Given the early morning starts, Danes usually take their lunch break around 11:00 am. It may seem early, but given we start to get hunger pangs around mid-morning, it kind of makes sense to eat a big lunch early on during the day to provide a profitable bout of energy for the afternoon.

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Make porridge

Whipping up a bowl porridge with a cup of tea is a great way of finding 'hygge' and bringing a sense of togetherness with the family.

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In Denmark, porridge isn't just a breakfast staple but a common dish served among families at dinner so it's the perfect (and easy) excuse to indulge in some oats, topped with cinnamon and apple in the winter months for warmth.

Wear black

If you've ever been to Denmark, you'd be mistaken for thinking all of the women are part-time ninjas – such is their predominantly black-coloured wardrobe.

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Minimalism is key to Danish fashion, with many Danes preferring to boast an understated image with neutral colored apparel, with a slight note of individualism through details such as a piercings, structuring, a beanie or a white pump. Also, the fact black absorb heat and the temperature in Denmark can drop to −25 °C, it kind of makes sense that Danes are happy all the time – they're warm.

Stay warm and form part of the Danish pack by wearing black. Here's how to style head-to-toe black.

Dress for the weather

Danes abide by Alfred Wainright's phrase 'Der findes intet der hedder dårligt vejr, kun dårligt påklædning!' ('There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!')

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If you've ever been caught out in the rain without an umbrella, stepped into a puddle in open-toe sandals or shivered at the slightest turn of the dial on the air conditioning, do as the Danes and dress for the weather. And yes, that does means layers, waterproof coasts and wellington boots in winter.

A happy Dane is an appropriately-dressed Dane.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking is available now for £9.99.

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