Caribbean hygge may sound like an oxymoron but it's possible. Find out how you can experience the Danish concept of cosiness, even in a tropical climate.

Caribbean Hygge: 6 Cosy Ways

Caribbean hygge may sound like an oxymoron but it’s possible. Find out how you can experience the Danish concept of cosiness, even in a tropical climate.

 

A few weeks ago, I watched a Facebook Live session by Karen Walrond, in which she talked about hygge (pronounced ‘hue-guh’) and the book on the Danish concept of cosiness. It was an apt topic, given the current season, and with winter set to start in less than a fortnight’s time. As much as I dislike the cold, I love the cosiness that winter inspires. Logs crackling from the heat in a fireplace. Blankets thicker than molasses in December. Mugs of chocolate to warm your hands and belly. Could such cosiness exist in the tropics?

Knowing that Karen is from Trinidad, I posed that question to her to get her insight on the topic. She tackled it in a Facebook Live session the following week and provided six great tips. I loved them so much, I asked for her permission to share them with you all. And she said yes!

Karen suggested six rituals for practising what I’m calling ‘Caribbean hygge’, which, for those of us who live in the region, is anything that fosters an “irie” feeling. She recommended wide open windows, candles, incense, fairy lights, comfy outdoor spaces, and reading nooks. I’ve shared my thoughts on each point.

Caribbean Hygge: 6 Cosy Ways

Wide Open Windows

Caribbean hygge may sound like an oxymoron but it's possible. Find out how you can experience the Danish concept of cosiness, even in a tropical climate.

A typical cottage in Grand Cayman | Photo © Lisa Butcher – Conch Pearl Media | Used with permission

One of the perks of living on an island is the luxury of breezes to beat the heat. They’re Nature’s air conditioning. So throw open the windows and welcome that cool breeze inside your home. Sit on your verandah, put your feet up, and let the wind refresh both you and your living space. And if you live by a beach, even better. Let that sea breeze sweep inside.

Candles

Candles add warmth and softness to any room. Use them to transform your space into a cosy sanctuary. Have a candlelit dinner every now and then, and not just the romantic kind. For extra cosiness, use scented candles for a holistic experience. I also love Karen’s practice of lighting a candle whenever she had visitors. You can’t get any more welcoming than that.

Incense

When Karen mentioned incense, I had to chuckle. My first experience of incense wasn’t funny at the time, though.

Some years ago, I had attended a funeral service at a Catholic church for a former co-worker. Towards the end of the service, I noticed when a woman covered her nose and mouth with a handkerchief and wondered at her actions. I soon found out the hard way.

As the priest walked down the aisle, facing me, he swung a silver orb, like a pendant on a long chain. Before I could ask my friend what it was, an odour slammed me like a punching bag in the face. I gagged. My eyes watered. My nose burned.

What the frankincense!

So a few years later, when a close acquaintance’s father died and I realised that the funeral service would be held at a Catholic church, I packed everything except a gas mask. However, the incense was a no-show. Thank the sweet Baby Jesus.

But that’s not the kind of incense Karen is talking about. Thankfully, there are more aromatic versions to help you create a relaxed ambience. Place it in a unique incense holder for added mystique to your space. Karen suggested lighting it outside while you’re enjoying that cool breeze on your verandah.

Fairy Lights

Caribbean hygge may sound like an oxymoron but it's possible. Find out how you can experience the Danish concept of cosiness, even in a tropical climate.

Spectacular display at Bodden’s House, South Church Street, Grand Cayman | Photo © Lisa Butcher – Conch Pearl Media | Used with permission

One of my favourite things about Christmas is the decorative lights. My friends and I used to drive through neighbourhoods in Kingston to admire the elaborate displays of coloured, twinkling lights that festooned houses and hedges. But, as Karen pointed out, who said that fairy lights only belong during the holiday season? Break with tradition and keep them up throughout the year. Hang them in creative ways, such as a border around a mirror or on a wall by your bed. They add charm, especially when paired with a gauzy curtain. Karen thinks that they are a great feature on a porch or patio.

Comfy Outdoor Spaces

If you have Caribbean roots, you’ll know that old-time folks are famous for having uncomfortable, wrought-iron chairs on their verandahs. When Karen made that point, I had to laugh because you’ll find that here in Jamaica, too. That’s why she suggested extending the comfort of your living room to your porch. Make your outdoor space cosy with throw cushions, twinkle lights, and incense. I don’t know about you but that’s my idea of bliss.

Reading Nooks

A cosy nook is like a portal into your own private world. If you have a small space, don’t let that deter you from having one. Create a corner nook and add an accent rug, candles, books, and a record player for your favourite vinyl. Or, turn a window seat into a comfy spot with throw cushions. For an outdoor nook, hang a hammock between two sturdy trees and sip on your favourite beverage as you lounge. How irie is that!

 

I’m grateful to Karen for showing that Caribbean hygge is possible. Wherever we call home, let’s define what cosiness means to us and then create spaces in which we can exhale.

 

Cover image: House in St. Kitts. Photo © Lisa Butcher – Conch Pearl Media. Used with permission.

 

Did you like these Caribbean hygge tips? Share what makes you feel cosy and irie.

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4 Comments on "Caribbean Hygge: 6 Cosy Ways"

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Karen
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I love this! Thanks for the sweet shout-out — and yes, I cosign every one of these. Also, Mek, Nag Champa is my favourite. 🙂

Nadine
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Nadine

You’re welcome, Karen! It was my pleasure, and I thank you again for allowing me to share your great tips. Now I can hardly wait to experience Nag Champa. 😀

Mek
Guest
Great ideas- lighting, incense, reading nooks, open windows, fairy lights omg I am a fan of all these things! I’d also add having a spot where you have a yoga mat permanently rolled out on the floor- that way you can lie in savasana at any time without the deterrent of having to get your mat, find a good spot, unroll it etc, by which time the intention may be gone. Your description of your incense experience made me laugh haha. It is like that in the Ethiopian Orthodox church too. Try Nag Champa- lovely Indian incense if you haven’t… Read more »
Nadine
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Nadine

I love your idea re the yoga mat, Mek. I plan to create a designated meditation space one day so I’ll definitely do that. And I love savasana.

Girl, I can laugh about that incense experience now but then, gah! Thanks so much for the suggestion. I love Indian culture, especially the curry, so I have no doubt that I’ll like their incense.

That image of sitting out on the verandah late at night, etc. is my jam. Utter bliss.