Don’t hygge me. This is going to be a lagom winter

Hilary Fannin: The current Scandi trend roughly translates as moderate, balanced, enough already

‘It seems there’s a new determination to out-hibernate one another in a nirvana of clove-studded oranges, dusted-off fondue sets, legwarmers and faux sheepskin throws.’

‘It seems there’s a new determination to out-hibernate one another in a nirvana of clove-studded oranges, dusted-off fondue sets, legwarmers and faux sheepskin throws.’

 

With barely a stretch left in the baggy elastic of these wintry evenings, we’ve taken, the family and I, to gathering around the hearth with a steaming mug of cocoa and sharing memories of happier days. The flickering flames illuminating our eager little faces, we recall jolly good times on the ski slopes, sledging down the piste in an empty box of Outspan oranges and ending up in the lap of a minor Norwegian royal just as he was about to swallow down his Flügel. 

Oh, what laughs we’ve had over the dying embers on these cold, cold lockdown nights, the rain pelting against the pitch black windows, the wind whistling down the chimney. We’ve been recalling, too, gentler adventures: picnicking in Bedlam Bottom on pork cheeks and pumpernickel, for example, or that delightful week we spent on a rainy campsite in Dorset’s Scratchy Bottom, exploring the many fun things one can do with a tent peg.

Oh I lie, I lie. I lie through withering gums and unpolished molars. I’ve never been to Dorset, and the nearest I’ve got to a ski slope is necking a Jägermeister under the stairs in my bed socks. 

Nope, confined once more to barracks, we are – like many families, I suspect – about as far removed from a cosy episode of The Waltons as John-Boy would’ve been to a line of speed and a hot date with a gobbling turkey.  

Instead we move like chess pieces through the messy house, diligently occupying private spaces until nudged out by a more powerful opponent – quite often the cat, who likes to stare people down through her gummy eyes and hoik up a fetching hairball on to the rug. 

Speaking about playing happy families in lockdown (oh, were we?), I have begun to notice, since the new restrictions came into force (along with the early onset of a squally winter), a kind of competitive hygge insinuating itself into the interactions of some of us.

It’s tough enough getting through the pandemic polytunnel as it is, without having to beat yourself up for not turning your home into a winter shagging wonderland.

It seems there’s a new determination to out-hibernate one another in a nirvana of clove-studded oranges, dusted-off fondue sets, legwarmers, faux sheepskin throws (the kind made out of recycled milk cartons) and enough fluffy-towel scented candles to light up every backyard shebeen this pub-parched land of ours can boast. 

It’s tough enough getting through the pandemic polytunnel as it is, without having to beat yourself up for not turning your home into a winter shagging wonderland, replete with glistening offspring gathering over the eggnog.

I was walking through the park with a mate recently, gulping down the untrammelled air after a morning of banging my shins off the accumulating gym equipment in my kitchen, after hot-desking at the crowded table and bartering for the only working phone charger. 

“I’m going to miss lockdown,” my friend mused. “It’s been so lovely, the whole family all together again, the jigsaws and movies, the baking and chatting.”

I thought of my own pandemic-stretched abode and the bicycles and barbells and damp washing that grows like choke weed over the kitchen chair backs while I hide from the white goods.

“I especially like a winter lockdown,” she continued, warming to her theme, “If I could, I’d put up the Christmas tree. I’ve already festooned the house in fairy lights, it’s really . . .” 

She searched for a word. “Hygge.”

I took a deep breath. 

“Hygge is dead,” I told her. “Dead as a Danish doornail.”

If you want to achieve a lagom home, you basically just need to chuck out family and furniture and replace the whole lot with one low grey couch, an eco stove and a neutral floor mat on which to practise your mindfulness.

Yep, hygge, as those who follow lifestyle trends will confidently tell you, is yesterday’s news. 

All that pampering and cocooning in a nest of hand-knitted Scandinavians is old hat. Or old hatt, as they say in Norway and Sweden. (The minimalist Danes just say hat.)

The current Scandi trend is lagom, which roughly translates as moderate, sufficient, balanced, enough already. If you want to achieve a lagom home, you basically just need to chuck out family and furniture and replace the whole lot with one low grey couch, an eco stove and a neutral floor mat on which to practise your mindfulness. At a push, I suppose you could incorporate a cat – or kat (Danish) or katt (Norwegian and Swedish) – but it probably needs to be a gutt katt that can keep its furballs in its gut so as not to disrupt the mindful minimalism.

I’m going to get myself some lagom, even if I have to masticate the kitchen barbells and recycle the moggy. It may be a lagom way from there to here, I thought, watching the scudding sky over the treetops, but every journey starts with a single step. 

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