Hygge by candlelight


Nothing symbolizes Hygge more clearly than the soft glow of candlelight. Candles scattered among the place settings on a dinner table. Candles illuminate a bedroom with subdued radiance. A steaming bubble bath is enveloped in a mist of muted candlelight. Candles create intimacy. They make rooms feel relaxed and inviting, and create a comforting environment where friends and family want to gather. They remind us to take a moment to savor life’s simple pleasures.

While Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries have long embraced the warming magic of candlelight, (Danes burn more candles each year, 13 pounds per person, than any other country in Europe), other countries are just now adopting this and other aspects of the hygge way of life. As the founders of Scandinavisk observe,

[Scandinavians] use them morning, noon and night. 12 months a year. Because they know that a candle makes any moment softer, more informal, more cosy. And they are the world’s happiest peoples, so we think that’s something worth sharing.

Hygge is not about having the perfectly decorated home. It’s about creating a living space that is warm and inviting, and that encourages hospitality and closeness. The simple candle plays a key role in achieving this.  Now some enterprising young people from The U.S. and Europe are developing lines of candles specifically to enhance the hygge experience.

Denver, Colorado-based Hygge Life offers that most classic of candles: simple white pillar candles that are hand poured by Danish candle makers following traditional methods.

Hygge Life/Alison Vagnini

They have candles for everyday, as well as ones crafted for the breakfast and dinner table. These can be placed in simple alabaster stone and salt rock candle holders to add a simple elegance to the whole hygge vibe.  Candles, $1.25 to $28.00; candleholders $29.95 to $119.95. hyggelife.com.

The scents of homemade cake and freshly brewed tea bring to mind a sense of well-being and appreciation for the simple pleasures in life. And Danish brand Skandinavisk–a company started by two “English chaps” who fell in love with two Scandinavian girls and are ardent advocates of the Scandinavian lifestyle–have developed a fragranced candle that captures the coziness of the hygge experience.

Skandinavisk

Their HYGGE candle is a treat to the senses with notes of brewed tea, baked strawberry cake, rose petals and wild mint. Light up a candle to experience why Scandinavians are some of the happiest people on earth.  HYGGE scented candle, $48 at Skandinavisk-USA.  Ships from California.

Proof that the hygge philosophy (or at least the market for it) is coming to North America: a candle maker in America’s heartland, Nashville-based Paddywax, has crafted a collection of four scented candles that capture the hominess of hygge: Vetiver & Cardamom, Tobacco & Vanilla, Bergamot & Mahogany, and Wild Fig & Cedar.

Paddywax

Each soy wax blended candle is hand-poured into a Skandi-inspired matte ceramic vessel with a copper lid.   Candles, 15 oz. each, $29 at Paddywax.com

Artisanally blended scents are a recurring theme among hygge-inspired candle makers. Belfast’s own The Bearded Candle Makers, also known as ‘two bearded boys with a passion for scent,’ is one example.  They use 11 percent fragrance in their candles—the most wax will absorb—in contrast to the 3 to 5 percent fragrance most candle makers use.

The Bearded Candle Makers

There are three scented candles from their HYGGE line:  frankincense-honey-coffee; patchouli-woodsmoke-chocolate; and frankincense-ginger-myrrh. The hygge collection was developed with Kaffe -O, a Nordic-inspired coffee shop in Belfast.  Candles £21.50 each. Shipping from Northern Ireland to anywhere in America, £6.50.  The Bearded Candlemakers.

Have a lovely hygge, but don’t burn the house down.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of hygge by candle light, with the soft glow of candles emanating throughout your living space, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer a brief reminder on fire safety—especially since it is all too easy to get distracted and leave a candle burning when you leave a room.

A study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that 85 percent of candle fires could be avoided by following three basic safety rules:

  • never leave a burning candle unattended
  • never burn a candle on or near anything that could catch fire
  • keep candles out of the reach of children and pets

To ensure safe candle burning:

  • Trim the wick to ¼ inch before burning since long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room and be sure the candleholder is resting on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
  • Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
  • Avoid drafts, vents or air currents to help prevent rapid or uneven burning, and soot.
  • Follow recommended burn times to ensure that excessive heat doesn’t build.

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