“No recipe for hygge is complete without candles. When Danes asked what they most associate with hygge, an overwhelming 86% will mention candles.”
Are you ready to come candle shopping with me? It’s getting cold, properly cold. The kind of cold where you wake up to text messages from your housemates asking if anyone knows where all the hot water bottles have gone. And you have to pull your bed sheets a little bit tighter to hide the fact you have them all.
It has started get dark by 4:30 in the afternoon, which means leaving the office after the sun has already gone down. And it can be a slightly depressing time of the year, which is why I have decided to fully embrace the Danish culture of hygge. And you are welcome to join me.
My guide is the ‘The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well.’ First published in 2016, the slim volume by Meik Wiking launched the concept of hygge into the world. It’s not something you can explain exactly rather than feel. According to Wiking it is cosiness, togetherness, and intimacy. To me it sounds like creating the warm feelings that surround Christmas just without the Christmas part.
It’s going to be a step by step journey that will hopefully see me happily through the winter. We’ll start where actress and general world-loved human being Julie Andrews suggests we start, “At the very beginning.”
And chapter 1 of ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ is all about lighting. Candles and lamps are the way to go and so I guess I am off on a shopping trip.
The first stop, and one I feel will be a continual point of call, is TK Maxx. An outlet store that sells designer and brand name products at significantly discounted prices, it also has an excellent candle selection.
And the candle section is fantastic. Do I want a scented Rooibos Tea Candle? Maybe not, as I’ve always found rooibos tea tastes a little disappointing. Rhubarb and Tarragon though, that sounds absolutely incredible! But then my eye catches a Red Mulberry and Cedar Scented candle, one that sounds and smells perfectly hygge.
I might just splurge on one fancy candle and get the rest from my local supermarket. Although this may be hygge time, I also need to pay my rent.
I also come across a Tom Dixon Alloy candle. It costs 1 penny under £80, and is a candle sitting in in an ugly, brutalist aluminium container. I am no expert, but I can’t think of anything less hygge. I will not be adding it to my collection.
It’s not just candles I should be looking for; lamps are important, too. They provide the low lighting, they set the mood. Create the magic. Did you know there is a power in low lighting, in the shadows that result? They play with our mind, cause the imagination to stir and help us create stories.
Well, it’s time to find some low lights. Meik Wiking says, “The lower the temperature of light the more hygge it is.” Wiking also suggests there’s nothing wrong with spending over £1000 on a lamp. That kind of depletion to my bank account makes me feel distinctively un-hygge. So, while a Le Klint lamp certainly looks nice, I think I will head online instead and see what the internet has to offer.
I also need to remember that several small lamps are even better than one large one. A bell jar lamp filled with fairy lights catches my eye, definitely hygge, definitely low light, perhaps a little too low and this one cost £29.95. Hygge is starting to seem a little pricey but maybe it’s just this chapter.
Then there’s the book lamp, which I feel speaks to my soul. In the shape of a book, you open it up and its pages glow: I think it’s everything I need. There are some made to look leather-bound and then one brand, Klevercase, that sells them with vintage book covers. The real question is do I want ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ or ‘Peter Pan and Wendy.’ Perhaps I’ll buy one in book form and one in lamp form.