Saturday, September 30, 2023

Hygge’s Great, But What About Kalsarikannit – The Finnish Word for Staying at Home Alone & Getting Drunk in Your Underwear

Cosiness is all the rage right now – a product of winter finally arriving as well as a global need to feel safe, warm and centred as we fight Covid-19. 

Hygge, the Danish art of living well, is probably the best well-known concept of contentment – think candles, blankets, mugs of hot chocolate, cinnamon scrolls and a good book, ie the perfect Sunday afternoon. 

It’s a marketers’ dream – homey comfort and ‘domestic cosy’ images have flooded the ‘gram in the last few months, with warm, almost retro-inspired pictures of products designed to make us feel good. 

Brand expert Michael Janiak told Vox that he’s noticed a huge shift in brand’s desires for homely aesthetics in the last few months. 

“Right now it’s working because people just want to feel safe,” he says. 

“The world’s kind of f***ed up and it feels crazy. When that happens people tend to pull in, pull their social circle in and retreat to their homes a little bit, and it affects consumer behaviour and perception.” 

Everyone also knows that all the Scandinavian countries have life sorted- just look at the Happiest Countries in the World rankings, you know, the ones where all the Nordic nations beat us. 

Currently at number one is Finland, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, then the Netherlands, Sweden and finally at number eight, Aotearoa. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the other Nordic notions of happiness – and Capsule’s top (mostly) local products to get the feeling at your place. 

(All products are individually and independently chosen by Capsule’s editors)

Hygge – The OG Guide to Happiness

Hygge, pronounced ‘Hoo-gah’ is sometimes described as healthy hedonism – um, yes please. It means “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. 

Basically it gets bloody cold and dark in Denmark over the winter, so the Danes had to figure out how to make the best of being cooped up at home – kind of thinking they’ve probably weathered lockdown better than anyone else with all of this training. 

There are a few guiding principles – spend quality time with your mates and your family, focus on one task at a time, get cosy, appreciate the little things, embrace nature and get comfy. 

Essentially, if you invite your best mates around for a board game night with candles, comfy clothes, good food and wine and you have an epic houseplant collection, you’re nailing it. Bonus points for an open fire or, if you’re not blessed with a fireplace, a TV with the flames flickering will do the job. 

Hygge experts recommend creating a nook in your home that’s just yours and yours alone – a space decked out with fluffy blankets, throw pillows and candles where you can go to unwind with a book, a cup of tea or a glass of wine. 

It all boils down to appreciating the little things, slowing down and spending time with the people you love as a way to practice self-care. 

Kalsarikannit- the Less Smug Hygge Where You Drink Alone in Your Undies

Finland have been ranked the happiest country in the world for three years now and I’m betting that Kalsarikannit has something to do with it. Kalsarikannit, or ‘Päntsdrunk’, the anglicised term, literally means getting drunk in your underwear alone at home. 

Finnish author Miska Rantanen says, “It is no coincidence Finland consistently rates in the top five in [the] happiness ranking. 

“In Finland, Päntsdrunk is considered the path to recovery and self-empowerment to help you face your future challenges, much like the ‘Lagom’ [see below] or ‘Hygge’ of their Scandi neighbours.” 

While staying in at home with a bottle of wine, takeaways and a Netflix subscription is something some us might feel a bit embarrassed about, in Finland, the practice is as well-respected as mindfulness. Rather, it’s an authentic, easy and enjoyable way to slow down and take time for yourself without worrying about anything else. 

Hygge, on the other hand, is a very Instagrammable, and some would say curated notion of relaxation, which is why many people prefer the rugged realness of Päntsdrunk. 

“[It’s] the anthisiesis of posing, performing or pretence: one does not post atmospheric images on Instagram while Päntsdrunk,” says Miska. 

While it sounds like it could be a piss take of some of those other concepts, Kalsarikannit has been around for ages. The Finns even have their own emojis for it:

So grab your comfiest undies and a good bottle of plonk and settle in for a night just for yourself. 

Lagom – A Way to Find Balance

A slightly more wholesome approach to finding your inner happiness, Lagom is Sweden’s answer to happy lifestyles and roughly translates to “Not too little, not too much”. 

Lagom refers to living life somewhere in the middle of all of the extremes – like setting realistic goals, keeping regular hours at work, doing more with less ( these are the people that brought us a very enduring design trend, and also IKEA after all) and making sure you know what’s really important in life. 

While Hygge is more about taking time out for cosiness, Lagom is more about incorporating elements of cosiness and happiness in every part of your life. It frowns upon excess, extravagance and flashiness, instead choosing to celebrate the “just enough” in life. Anything else, says Lagom, is a waste of time. 

For example, instead of hot chocolate and baked pastries, eating and drinking with Lagom means embracing food that’s good for both your body and your soul. 

Organisation is also a massive part of Lagom – it’s easier to have ‘just enough’ when you know what you have!

Saying stop when you’ve had enough is also a guiding principle, says The Little Guide to Lagom author Linnea Dunne. 

“In many ways, this conscious approach to life means that we can improve the things that really matter, while gaining time and more space to think and connect with ourselves.” 

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