Toward the end of 2016, the world fell head over fuzzy-sock-clad-heels for the Danish concept of hygge, a lifestyle movement that celebrates warmth, kinship, and cosiness. Like most good things, hygge shows no sign of slowing down — it's set to become an even more popular form of self-care in 2017. During a turbulent period of political change, frightening headlines, and cultural division, it's more important than ever to emphasise the importance of harmonious, happy homes . . . which is why we're choosing to focus on hygge as a cornerstone of our new year.
In The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (£22), Meik Wiking (author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute) breaks down the concept of hygge into a simple, 10-part manifesto. Atmosphere, presence, pleasure, equality, gratitude, harmony, comfort, truce, togetherness, and shelter are the pillars of hygge, writes Wiking; he also emphasises that the lifestyle is not just for cold weather but something to practice year-round.
Keeping in mind this idea of hygge-fying our lives all year long, we've created a 12-month hygge challenge that incorporates each of the 10 pillars of Wiking's "Hygge Manifesto." Join us to find cosiness and contentment amid whatever else occurs throughout the year; no matter what happens in 2017, we'll always have hygge.
January — Leave Your Holiday String Lights Up
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of hygge — the softer and warmer, the better. Instead of taking down your holiday string lights, leave the strands of magical fairy twinkles hanging inside your home and opt to use them instead of bright overhead lighting.
February — When in Doubt, Opt For Hot Drinks
According to Wiking's research, 86 percent of Danish survey participants associated hot drinks with hygge — making it the most hygge element of the lifestyle, even above lighting, blankets, and candles. So instead of grabbing iced or room-temperature drinks during February, make an effort to enjoy hot ones: hot water with lemon, steaming cups of coffee, mulled wine, hot cocoa, and the like.
March — Live by Candlelight
"There is no faster way to get to hygge than to light a few candles," purports The Little Book of Hygge. Danes light candles everywhere — classrooms, homes, and even at the office — with more than half reporting that they light candles every day. So make like the Danish and live your life by candlelight this month, choosing to light wicks rather than flip switches. If you need inspiration for your new, candlelit lifestyle, look no further than the Paddywax Hygge collection or any of our editors' favourite candles.
April — Take Your Exercise Outdoors
One of the fundamental aspects of hygge is a distinct closeness to nature, so this month, get in touch with the great outdoors. Skip a run on the treadmill and opt for a hike in the wilderness, or do your yoga practice in the park.
May — Treat Your Feet
Just because the weather gets warmer in May doesn't mean you have to give up your cosy lifestyle. Boost your stores of fluffy socks and stop going barefoot in the house — snuggly feet are happy feet!
June — Host a Tech-Free Evening With Loved Ones
One of the admirable aspects of hygge is that it encourages being present . . . which means unplugging when you're around loved ones and truly enjoying the moment. Host a dinner or game night with your favourite people, and instate a "no phones" rule. Whoever looks at their phone first has to clean the dishes!
July — Write a Thank-You Note to Somebody Who Changed Your Life
In keeping with the hygge cornerstone of gratitude, spend time in July expressing your thanks to somebody who has influenced your life. Write a thank-you note (or more than one) this month and express why you're thankful for their help in your life.
August — Volunteer to Help Others in Your Community
To embrace the hygge attitude of equality, take time out of your month to connect with other areas of your community. Whether it's serving at a soup kitchen, preparing baskets of toiletries for a women's shelter, or mentoring a foster child, allow your time volunteering to give some perspective about what really brings joy to your life.
September — Take a "Me" Weekend
While it's tempting to spend weekends making social plans and checking items off your to-do list, take a few days to relax and pamper yourself. Grab a book, eat some dessert, take a bubble bath . . . whatever feels purely you.
October — Designate Your "Hyggekrog" Nook
A hyggekrog, which Wiking says translates roughly to "a nook," is a cosy space in one's home where they feel totally comfortable curling up with a book or cup of coffee. The author suggests filling your own hyggekrog with soft lighting and warm blankets, cushions, and even furs; creating a small space that's comfortable and totally yours is vital to the hygge lifestyle.
November — Bake a New Recipe
Many hygge experts focus heavily on the food and drink aspect of hygge, and that's because what Danes eat is a huge part of their lifestyle. Sweets, meats, and hot drinks are elements of hygge happiness, so take time this month to try a new recipe and share it with your loved ones — and make sure the recipe is something decadent, like a cake or pastry.
December — Open Your Home to Somebody New For Christmas Time
Perhaps the most important elements of hygge are togetherness and shelter, so welcome somebody else into the hygge fold of your life as a celebration of all you've accomplished this year. If you find out a friend is spending the Winter holidays alone, invite them to drink cocoa and bask in candlelight with you and yours instead.