Scandinavians and their easy-breezy, ultra-chic lives are frequently the subject of fantasy and aspiration for many of us. They’re absurdly good looking, have a ridiculously high quality of life, laudable equality between the sexes, and their futuristic-minimalistic-functional-beautiful furniture and decoration styles have been leading home design trends across the world for years.
Stranger still, Scandis manage to win the economic and aesthetic world Olympics from some of the coldest, darkest, and starkest corners of the world.
How? Hygge. Simply put, the Danish word conveys a feeling or moment of ultra-charming coziness that fills participants with a sensation of contentment and well-being. There’s no direct translation in English. The word is a noun, but can also be an adjective, as Robert Shaplen noted in The New Yorker in 1957, when writing of Copenhagen: “The sidewalks are filled with smiling, hyggelige people, who keep lifting their hats to each other and who look at a stranger with an expression that indicates they wish they knew him well enough to lift their hats to him, too.”
Hygge is part of the Danish national character, but has also been entrenched in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland for centuries. In recent years, Hygge has made its way here. You may have thought it came and went in 2016, but not when a pandemic has us all hunkered down.
While “hygge” may have made it to Oxford Dictionaries’ “word of the year” shortlist in 2016, 2021 may be its time to shine, especially in New York.
It’s January, it’s winter, it’s dark and cold and stark, both literally and metaphorically. So let’s hygge, shall we? At New York Makers, we have many hyggelige creators making the perfect accouterments for your hygge, with loved ones, or solo.
When one is cozifying, candlelight is essential. Thankfully, Dori Naturals, made by Dori Gurwitz, a techie who came to candle-making by way of soap-making as a response to our COVID-19 staycations, are here to rescue us. His long-burning (48 hours) candles are elegantly simple (made of wax, natural coloring, and scent), presented in a clear glass container and mood-transforming. We especially love White Lotus, with light musk, frankincense, and amber; soothing, but in a sexy Scandinavian way. We also love using tea lights to light rooms, and placing them in GioGio’s certified sustainable bamboo holders, with their woodcut designs casting beautiful shadows to bring a glow to any space.
True comfort without a snug blanket can surely be achieved, but why would you do that to yourself? While we frequently reach for our children’s discarded baby blankets, loving the lap size, when extra luxe is needed, we opt for the Alicia Adams Alpaca baby blanket. It’s a deliciously soft throw, and Prince George’s favorite (courtesy of then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama, who gifted it to him).
Hot chocolate, hot tea, cocktails. The Scandis know that setting the right vibe is key, but making it delicious and buzzy is also essential for true hygge. For those of us embarking on Dry January, and the smaller members of our clan, the Adirondack Fragrance & Flavor Farm’s Chocolate Maple Drink Mix has skyrocketed to the top of our drinks mix. Made from 100% Maple Sugar and cocoa, with cinnamon ginger and chicory, we mix it with warm milk, throw it in a mug. Insta-hygge. We also love the Birch Boys Chaga Reishi & Rose Hips Tea, and 2 Queens’ Raspberry Lemon Loose Leaf Tea. Both are delicious and refreshing, and reminiscent of those late Spring, early Summer scents that are impossible to describe and instantaneously recognizable. Cocktail hour, meanwhile, has gotten a lot more exciting and chic with the Moscow Mule DIY Cocktail Kit and the Five Flavor Bitters Bar Set.
Chocolate fudge, brown sugar blondie, snickerdoodle and vegan fudge brownies from Greyston Bakery taste like heaven, and buyers can know that they are funding a company founded by a Zen Buddhist dedicated to embracing Open Hiring (meaning, bringing in people whose language skills, education, and incarceration record may limit their job options) and giving back to the Bronx and Yonkers communities it serves. Chocolate that gives back. YES. On the cookie front, when you are baked out, savor any scrumptious Jane Bakes flavor, or, if you need to go beyond the sweet, try a heavenly Vegan Gluten Free Buddha Bagel. And our obsession with Chocolate Honey Whiskey Truffles knows no bounds...Each tastes and feels like an edible chocolate cocktail. A two-for-one happy hour we can safely attend. Cheers and thank you.
As Scandis have taught us, the vessel from which you drink or eat hygge treats must be as pleasing as the confection itself. For the warm drinks, we love using Adirondack Rockware’s coffee and tea sets, which are modern interpretations of the classic Adirondack aesthetic, seen through an Abstract-Expressionist and Japanese lens. Glazes are made from crushed Adirondack rocks, and each creation is an original. For cocktails, we prefer Tom Stoenner’s stunning, modern, hand-blown works of art. We love putting out snacks on The Farmhouse Project’s beautiful serving trays, and serving them with their organic cotton napkins.
One Scandinavian habit that serves as an offshoot of the hygge mentality is the tendency to still enjoy the great outdoors, despite the cold and dark. Throw on this Chenille Buffalo Check Scarf, grab something warm to drink, and bring your cozy pod onto the front porch for a quiet moment outside. It’s a wonderful way to start a weekend day.
Now that you have the perfect environment for relaxed contentment, what will you do? Conversation, movies, books, quiet contemplation. But also, games and crafts. Our current favorites: any Grey Fox Felting kit, the It’s a Yummy DIY Mini Scarf Kit, Color Our Town coloring books and, of course, Will Moses puzzles.
Ready, set, hygge!