So, British Hygge Is a Thing Now?

hygge-handsLast year’s obsession with all things Hygge in the UK fascinated me. Everyone it seemed was trying to find a way “do hygge”.  Knitters and crocheters were posting almost daily photos on Instagram of themselves with candles, blankets and knitting. If they could factor in a woodburning stove as well, and a glass of wine it seemed they must be in Hygge heaven. Almost  every yarn enthusiast I follow on social media got a book about “It” for Christmas, and my Danish friends (there is a quite a big middle aged Danish contingent in Cheshire – not sure why), were equally amused and aghast at the phenomenon. One friend showed me a clip of a knitting podcaster struggling to pronounce the word, trying “higgy”  and “higg yee” before settling on “higg”. “Well, she clearly hasn’t read the book she’s reviewing – there is a guide to pronunciation on page 7″ said my grumpy friend Trine.

So, why are the English (and it does seem to be a thing I’ve noticed among English friends rather than Scottish or Welsh), so obsessed with this idea? Have we fought against cold, wet winters for so long that the sudden idea of getting cosy and embracing winter is appealing? I am usually immune to trends and fashion (I still wear boot leg jeans and my phone is 8 years old) and so I have observed the growing interest in all things Scandi from a distance. I watched Borgen, but I’ve never seen the Killing or the Bridge. I’ve been to Copenhagen and loved it, but the idea of deliberately trying to”make” or “do” Hygge had never occurred to me. Then,  I posted a photo on twitter and someone commented “That is so British Hygge”. I think it was meant to be a compliment.  Here’s the offending photo.


It seems I am the epitome of British  Hygge without even realising it.  I’m still not sure if it’s a compliment or an observation. But my immediate reaction is one of  denial. This is just what I do, I work from home, I have Reynauds, I need to be warm. The woodburner is our main source of heating, this is just our “normal”.   In an effort to discover more about this new phenomenon, I googled “British Hygge”.  Try it for yourself, you’ll be swept down a rabbit hole of blogs, articles and page upon page of advice for how to bring the H word into your life.

There is even a helpful blog, full of tips and advice on creating a cosy existence the British way.  Eager Brits have stolen the frankly, untranslatable concept of Hygge and created a version for themselves in which the deliberate act of making yourself cosy is celebrated. It seems the antithesis of what my Danish friends have tried to convey. One said “Hygge is a feeling of bliss and contentment you get when everything is just right, it is a state of mind”. The lovely Trine, a 63 year old Dane who has lived here for almost 40 years told me that “Hygge happens”, you can’t buy it or make it. “It’s a state of being” she told me, not a product you can buy or make at will.

So has Hygge been hijacked by the British media to sell us an idea. Is it the “new mindfulness”? Or just a publishing ploy  to make us buy self help books disguised as  how to be Hygge? Or is the fascination with all things Nordic part of a wider desire to find happiness and contentment in the every day? I’m still unsure.  My first encounter with the term came in 2015 when I read Helen Russell’s book “The Year of Living Danishly”. I am drawn to books about ex pats (maybe it’s my innate curiosity about other people’s lives, or maybe I’m just plain nosy), and Helen Russell’s account of trying to fit in to life in Denmark, while her husband worked for Lego is engaging and amusing.  If you really want an insight into Danish life and values, forget the “how to” books and read this instead.


As for me, I shall live the life I’ve always lived. I shall remain satisfied with what I have and   enjoy the simple things.  I shall spend time with people who make me happy, who value me as I am, not for what I can do for them. Above all, you will still find me hunkering down under a blanket, warmed by the fire in a room lit by candles and soft lighting until Spring. Then I shall leap forth, weed the garden, marvel at the spring bulbs and embrace  the daylight. If that makes me the epitome of British Hygge, then so be it.


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  1. This post made me smile. It is funny when the things you enjoy, or your personal style come into fashion and you think “but this is just who I am!”. I say enjoy the compliment of being on trend, and when fashions change you can enjoy the fact that you still find happiness crocheting by your wood burner, irrespective of other people’s changing tastes.


  2. Tracey

     /  January 24, 2017

    Thank you x


  3. Kate R

     /  February 11, 2017

    I think Brits are trying to engage with a counter style to technology & rush rush rush – and Hygge does seem a great counter balance to that but I agree it all seems rather forced and overplanned rather than just a state of being. That said I don’t have a problem with people slowing down and appreciating life more so happy to see people embracing it even if for many I think it’s just a quick faux-Hygge moment before they get back to checking Twitter furiously! 😊 (Definitely watch The Bridge though it’s the best of all the Scandi dramas!) xx


  4. Tracey

     /  February 11, 2017

    Thanks for the Bridge recommendation – and yes it’s only a good thing if people slow down – even if it’s only for a moment.


  5. Darn right British Hygge is a thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love the cosy and it’s great it’s a trend of comfort and little things. I’m all about the cosy and fun in life.
    I’m blogging it at

    Liked by 1 person

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  • I’m Tracey Todhunter. I’m a freelance writer. specialising in green / ethical living – with a “sideline” in craft!

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  • A throwback to when @andreaellisonphoto & I visited the guys from  @nine_meals_from_anarchy in 2014. So much has changed since then, but I'm still wearing that granny square cowl, coat & wellies combo for gardening! Oh and I lust after a greenhouse this big - think of the possibilities!!! I'm still not comfortable in front of the camera, but Andrea always brings out the best in me. I ♥ all the photos she's taken of me and my crochet!
#grannycoolcrochet #grannysquaresrock #grannysquare #instacrochet #crochetgirlgang #30wears #girlgardener #permaculture #organicgardener #ninemealsfromanarchy All the rhubarb!  My neighbour's crop is showing promise! I'm thinking gin, crumble, maybe some rose petal and rhubarb cordial, rhubarb and ginger jam ... more gin.......I do love rhubarb!!!! My creative space. Today I had a bit of a spring clean & tidied my desk . I took this photo to remind myself how tidy I can be! By Friday it will be a chaotic mess again. You can also see some of my "must haves". Flowers (from a gorgeous posy bought last week in a beautiful posy bottle made by Victoria at Little Wren,  handcream, lip balm and a scented candle - this is a new @willowandhoneyuk candle  bought today from @thelittlecraftcompany it smells divine and the wooden wick crackles in a very satisfying way! I'm working on a new commission for Inside Crochet using super bright shades of cotton, using a lovely wooden hook bought from Beyond Measure at Woolfest last year. On the notice board, a few favourite photos, some paperwork & the ladybird pattern that came free with issue 99 of @insidecrochet . I've put it there to remind me that once this book is finished I can have some fun! There are lots of people tagged in this post - too many to mention - but I love buying lovely things from real people & my workspace reflects that admiration for women who run their own businesses & do it well! Explore the tags and you might discover some new favourites! Flowers everywhere! Bunches of cut flowers in my kitchen, blooms in the bathroom and a desk covered in crochet florals. This spring my designs have been influenced by love of the outdoors.  This is a sneaky peek of a new design, commissioned for issue 100 of @insidecrochet , believe me, this is an issue you will not want to miss!!! #instacrochet #crochetflower #girlgardener #knittersofinstagram #grannycoolcrochet #haaktechniekenbijbel #uncinetto #horgolás Goodbye winter, hello spring! I spent most of the weekend in the garden, tidying and prepping the greenhouse, pricking out seedlings & watching the first Gardener's World of the new season. The greenfinches are skirmishing, the sap is rising, buds are forming and it's light enough to step outside when I wake up. Happy days!
#girlgardener #badbirdwatcher #instagarden #morningslikethese #littlestoriesofmylife #slowliving Happy Mother's day! My Mum (in the headscarf), my Granny, my Auntie. All no longer here, but every mother's day I think of them with love and admiration. And that photo - you can't beat a cheesy 1960's beach holiday photo booth!
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