It was hard to escape hygge in 2016, the year when this Danish lifestyle trend became the subject of endless books and magazine articles. But does this cosy philosophy have any place when the days get longer and the flowers start to bloom? Of course it does! Using the delicious Baked Apple Hoogly Tea in April's Gin of the Month box, here’s how to bring the Danish secret to contentment with you into the warmer months of the year.
When you hear the word hygge, what immediately springs to mind? For many, it’s the image of mulled wine and cashmere socks, roaring fires and good books as outside the snow or rain fall. Here in the UK, we’ve been told that hygge translates roughly to ‘cosiness’, and that its natural home is in the dark winter months.
But that narrow definition of this lifestyle philosophy – which many Danes credit at least in part to their country’s strong sense of community and frequent appearances at the top of world happiness indexes – does it a serious disservice.
When we think of ‘cosy’, we think of winter. But actually, a Dane would tell you that spring and summer can be the most hyggelig seasons of all!
“Hygge has been portrayed as to be more in the winter, but in fact it’s all year round,” says Tina Gloggengieser, the Danish tea entrepreneur behind the Baked Apple Hoogly Tea in April's Gin of the Month box. “A typical Danish hyggelig summer’s day would be going out into nature with your friends and family, setting up a picnic in a beautiful place or grilling sausages over a camp fire.”
For Tina, who moved to the UK when she was just a child, practising hygge all year around is a great way to connect with her roots. “It’s in our DNA,” she explains. “The Danish very much take it with them wherever they go in the world. It’s tough to describe in words – it’s more a feeling or an experience.”
But if hygge isn’t just a byword for cosy winter evenings, how can you bring this stress-reducing, happiness-boosting practice into your life? Here are three key ways to make this spring your happiest yet:
1. Remember: You can hygge whatever the weather
Look out the window. Is it a beautiful spring day, with the joyous sun shining on the daffodils? Awesome. Is it cold and grey, with a spring drizzle falling on the fragrant grass? Even better!
Hygge is about finding happiness and contentment whatever happens to be going on outside. If it’s sunny, that might mean packing up your favourite foods and tromping off to have a peaceful picnic in the nearest park; if it’s raining, it could be curling up in bed with a good book and a hot cuppa. Take a moment to reflect on what the weather makes you want to do, and then do it!
2. Stop and smell the roses – sometimes literally
The fastest way to have a hyggelig moment is to put your life on pause and find something beautiful in the everyday things that surround you. Take a few minutes out of your day to appreciate the softness of your favourite blanket, the natural beauty of the view outside your window or the scent of a perfume you love. Savour the taste of a jammy dodger or a well-made cup of tea. These are the things that make us appreciate all that we have, and stop worrying (for at least one moment) about the things we don’t.
As Tina explains: “Either with others or by yourself, just stop your busy lifestyle to cherish the moment. Hygge must not be rushed – it’s important to live in the moment and really be aware of the presence and the joyful things in life.”
3. Set yourself up for success
Hygge is deeply personal – what’s hyggelig for one person is unbearable for another. So, if you want to start practicing hygge regularly this spring, set aside a few hours on your next day off to really seek it out. Plan ahead, don’t be shy and get ready for some guilt-free relaxation!
Not sure what’s going to give you that warm feeling of fullness and contentment? Jump start your hygge experience by setting aside a quiet moment to share a drink with your favourite person – be it your significant other, best friend or even yourself!
We’re pretty partial to the Danish Double Apple Iced Tea below. Totally delicious and great for sharing, a cold glass of this lovely tipple in beautiful surroundings is about as hyggelig as it gets!
Danish Double Apple Iced Tea
25ml Kongsgaard Gin
20ml Hoogly Baked Apple Tea Syrup*
20ml lemon juice
50ml apple juice
Apple slices and cinnamon sticks, to garnish
Lots of ice
Combine all of your ingredients in a cocktail shaker packed with ice and shake well. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with apple slices and a stick of cinnamon.
*To make the syrup, brew 100ml of Hoogly Baked Apple Black Chai Tea. Pour the tea into a saucepan and add 100g of caster sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat, transfer to a container and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.