When I first thought about moving to Denmark and spending the first semester of my Master studies, running from September to December, in Aarhus plus January and February 2013 I did not fully take the weather into consideration. And now? Here I am. Sitting in my room, heating running on max volume, surrounded by little snowmen (and other snow creatures) thinking about how to survive another 3 months in snowy and cold Denmark.
A word that straight pops into my head when best organising my daily life in a country where sun is rare and where you need to get up early to catch some of the scarce, scarce sun is: HYGGE. Make it hygge and you will be fine is only one of the many advices I got from my roommates. ‘Hygge’ is equal to cosy but there are no exact translations given. Rather, this little word moved to being THE way of describing the Danes. Especially winter and Christmas are perfect occasions for the Danes’ way of conquering snowy life. I prepared a little guide of ’How to make it hyggelig’ for non-Danes and those who want to become Danes:
1. Home is where your candle is
I know it sounds girly and yes, also a bit old-fashioned but I was surprised by the fact that some of my roommates (yes, male ones) sit in the living room with some candles and enjoy their day in front of the TV. So, why not lighting up some candles and pamper yourself with a nice day at home?
2. I say baking, you say WHAT?
And it even gets girlier. Ever thought about having a baking day? I got used to walking in my kitchen driven by the nice smell of cinnamon and freshly baked cookies, cake or anything alike. Baking is, at least for me, a typical Danish thing. Although I am into cooking, I would have never thought about baking my own bread or making my own pizza dough when simply buying it is so much easier. But these Danes really got me there and now I am sure that a day spent with friends and baking is a real joy!
My favourite recipe so far is the one for ‘Kanelsnegle’, cinnamon roles. I collected some easy explanations:
- 50 g. butter (melted and cooled)
- 300 ml. warm milk
- 25 g. fresh yeast
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 sachet custard powder (kagecreme)
- 500 g. plain flour
- 150 g. brown sugar
- 100 g. soft butter
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
You need to prepare the dough first and leave it for 30 mins. Afterwards roll it out, put the filling on top, and roll it into a sausage-like shape. Cut out 2cm big pieces and put the little pieces on baking paper and let them rest for 30 min while you pre-heat the oven. Brush them with a whisked egg and put them in the oven for 10-15 mins, DONE!
3. Common dinner
Getting downtown Aarhus if you live up the hill in the very West of the city is a tough challenge when streets are full of snow and ice and the bike seems to be the only thing to get from A to B. So, why not just having a dinner with some friends at one of the many student dorms? We often meet together at one of our places, cook some simple food and enjoy the warm kitchen instead of going out in the cold. It’s cheap, fun and hyggelig!
4. For the brave ones: going to one of the many Cafés
If you feel like you have seen enough of your room and wish to enjoy some frsh air in the end, make sure you visit some of the nice Cafés in Aarhus. My favourites are:
This little café serves some real and nice Italian coffee. It is a tiny, cozy place full of stylish people. The nice atmosphere is upgraded by the sound of real-disc music.
Where? Vestergade 52, 8000 Aarhus C
This café is part of a gallery/office place. It is in a very cool building and even has a roof terrace. And free Wifi 😉
Where? Vestergade 49B, 8000 Aarhus C
Løves Bog og Vincafe
This is potentially one of the coolest places in Aarhus. This mix of bookshop and wine café offers the perfect place for some rainy nights in Aarhus where you just feel like staying in. Affordable and good wine included!
Where? Nørregade 32, 8000 Aarhus C
So this little guide just wants to give you a brief introduction to hygge life in Aarhus. The basics are: spend a lot of time with your friends, bake together, eat together or meet somewhere.