Happy Hygge!

Winter can be a struggle at times. The short days, dark nights and cold weather can drain your joie de vivre and leave you longing for summer, flicking back through your holiday photos or planning your next getaway.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however, and the Danish concept of Hygge is designed to help you deal with the winter by seeking comfort, warmth and cosiness. In essence, swapping the harsher edges of the colder months for roaring fires, mugs of gluhwein or cocoa, big jumpers and other such classic winter tropes.

What is hygge?

Hygge (pronounced “hooga” in case you were wondering) is one of those Nordic words which doesn’t have an exact literal translation in English. It actually comes from a Norwegian word which means “wellbeing” but has since been adapted by the Danes for a more specific context.

Hygge is sitting beside a roaring fire, Hygge is being surrounded by your loved ones, Hygge is the domestic contentment you can only get from lounging on the sofa with a cup of tea. When you put it all together like this, Hygge is probably the reason why Danish people are the happiest in the world.

However, it’s not just in Denmark where you can fully embrace Hygge, and what better way to really take control of your happiness this winter than by taking a short break away on one of our routes to Europe?

Hygge - Winter Drinks

Tea and coffee, hot chocolate, mugs of cocoa, some of the most idyllic winter ideals revolve around hot drinks.

Whether you’re warm and comfortable indoors, drinking out of a thermos flask on a winter night’s walk, or clasping a glass of gluhwein close to warm your hands up as you wander a Christmas market, there’s nothing quite as comforting as a delicious hot drink on a cold day or night.

Amsterdam may not have a Christmas market, but you can interrupt your shopping with a wonderful hot chocolate from the likes of Urban Cacao or Pompadour. Meanwhile cities such as Bruges and others are famous for their cosy cafés and hearty food and drink, perfect for the winter months.

Hygge - Glittering Lights

If you’re going to brave the low temperatures outside, then why not head to one of Europe’s amazing Christmas markets, or check out the Christmas lights as they’re turned on in one of the continent’s city centre boulevards?

Each year, Amsterdam sees the Light Festival take over its streets in winter, providing stunning illuminations and artworks for locals and visitors to enjoy. There is also a huge Christmas tree erected in front of the Bijenkorf department store.

Meanwhile in Paris you can take in the amazing illuminations at the avenue des Champs-Elysées, on avenue Montaigne, in Place Vendôme, the Montmartre district, Bercy Village and many others.

Hygge - Travel

As we’ve discussed, Hygge can mean a sense of domestic contentment, but can also mean getting out of the country and treating yourself to a visit somewhere new.

If you’ve never been to Denmark, then what better time to take a trip there than for the Hygge season!? Check out Tivoli Gardens and its incredible light display, or get cosy in a rented apartment near the river.

Holland, Belgium and Germany are also fantastic winter travel destinations, as countries which tend to embrace the cold weather and therefore know all of the secrets when it comes to making the most of it!

Hygge - Gift Giving

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of giving an amazing gift and seeing it go appreciated by the receiver, except perhaps the feeling of receiving an amazing gift yourself.

So in the winter time, what better way to ensure you give or get the best gifts than by heading to a Christmas market with your loved ones? We’ve already written about some of the best Christmas markets in our blog, so take a look for yourself and be inspired.

Other than Christmas markets, why not head to fantastic shopping cities like Amsterdam, with its famous department stores or Haarlem, which was voted Holland’s favourite shopping city? Check out luxury items in Paris or Hamburg, or take advantage of Berlin’s multicultural and hipster community to pick up amazing, ethical gifts for loved ones.

Hygge - Traditional Food

Who doesn’t love a good Christmas dinner?

Of course in Britain we have a popular and traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and roast vegetables, eaten on Christmas Day, but this recipe changes all over Europe.

In Holland, for example, one of the classic Christmas traditions is that of “gourmet” where people cook small portions of food for themselves. This tradition is likely to have started in Indonesia when it was a Dutch colony. As well as that they celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas (read our Sinterklaas blog for more info!) with traditional Christmas meals of turkey, pheasant, goose and other meats.

In Denmark the traditional Christmas meal is very hearty and consists of any of a range of meats, plus potatoes, gravy and vegetables. For dessert everyone has a rice pudding, one of which has an almond inside. Whoever gets the rice pudding with the almond inside is given a very special “almond gift” to celebrate Christmas.

Hearty meals are a perfect way to enjoy winter, not only are you indoors while you’re cooking up a storm, but you get the satisfaction of dining out on the meal you have created afterwards. What could be more Hygge than that!?

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