Hygge

 Jon Kornbluh, Bluecorn Beeswax Founder, feeling the hygge.

Jon Kornbluh, Bluecorn Beeswax Founder, feeling the hygge.

Hygge, pronounced ‘hue-guh’, is the Danish concept of creating cozy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing. Another definition I found described hygge as “a word for a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.”

Although the word is new to me, the concept is not. In fact, when I really thought about it, hygge has played a central role in my life for a very long time and it's not a stretch to say that my company is very much in the business of hygge. Candles, like all fire, attract our attention, bring us closer together and make reverent moments out of the mundane.

Another lovely description of hygge that I read is about, “the art of creating intimacy.” That’s the kind of magic that goes right to the core of our candles. Craft work and hygge are bound together because both foster appreciation for connection. A well-made thing calls you back to all that made it: the flower that blossomed, the bee that buzzed, the beekeeper that harvested the wax, and the steady hand that dipped the candle. And of course there’s the sheer ritualism of candle burning itself -- a literal promise to stay in place and attend the flame, an invitation to gather round and slow down, to honor the space and the moment with something as transient and priceless as candlelight.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of touring the Bluecorn workshop, you’ve experienced a taste of hygge. Tanks of molten beeswax keep the workshop warm all winter. Music plays. Our close-knit band of candlemakers chat and laugh while they skillfully pour, dip, wrap and otherwise lovingly prepare our candles for the wider world.  

The Danish cultivated the hygge lifestyle to survive long northern winters with not much light and not much to do. It's no surprise that winter is my favorite season as it provides me with so many opportunities to combat the cold and dark with fire and light. For me, it's that tension between the elements that makes for a hygge moment: a cozy living room made cozier by a raging storm outside, or a crackling campfire keeping the cold of night at bay.

When I lived in the Butcher Creek Cabin in Telluride, every winter day was blessed with hygge. The cabin was barely insulated and its only source of heat was a wood stove. After a day of skiing and a night of restaurant work, I would return to what was essentially a frozen wooden box. I quickly made a fire and placed my frigid hands against the warming cast iron. In those moments, captivated by the heat, light and sounds of the fire, I was often overcome with feelings of gratitude and wholeness. Today, I would describe that feeling as hygge.

 

Jon Kornbluh