For the coziest of winter holidays, look to Danish culture
As the winter season comes to a close, we oftentimes find ourselves conversing about the weather as it affects us all. From talking to your butcher, baker or candlestick maker to spending time with friends, family or casual acquaintances, weather is almost always a safe topic.
In a time rife with political disagreements, you can always count on a conversation about temperature to cool down the heat of potential tension. The most arguing you'll find yourself entrenched in is a debate over how soon you want winter should end. Most of us fall into one school of "weather thought" or the other. We either hope for spring to hurry it's way to our door, astoundingly ready to ditch the scarves and mitts in anticipation for a simpler and warmer life or… we begin the grieving process for winter, pining away for the heavy snow and the days we could hit the slopes, snowshoe or go skating.
A philosophy to help you embrace the cold
If you're the latter, then you'll love "hygge." But in fact everyone loves hygge and you'll soon find out why. You're probably already practicing it without even knowing it. Actually, you've been practicing your whole life! Every time you raise a cup of cocoa, tea or rich coffee to your lips and delight in the smell and rush of warm comfort, you're practicing hygge!
In 2016, the Oxford Dictionary's "words of the year" shortlist included words like "Brexiteer" and "post-truth," proving it wasn't exactly the most stable of times but then, like a small, flickering ray of sunshine in the harsh cold temperatures of winter, it also included "hygge."
Is it “hygge” in here or is it just me…
While the Ebola crisis slowed, Hygge continued to spread. Trending everywhere, we continued our ceaseless campaigns for coziness and comfort in darkening days and a darkening time. Yet who can blame us? The stability in the feeling of home has arguably never been more important and is a fundamental concept in defining what it means to be human. It's almost as though, giving the concept a name, gave it all the more power. “Coziness” is a word but it doesn’t define the multi-sensory experience as richly.
How had we not put a name to this great thing already!? Travel anywhere and you'll find that while the Danes gave us a word for it, the feeling of love and comfort we all desire to be a critical aspect of the place we call home, is shared in every culture.
Winter is far and above the time to celebrate. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the concept is the appreciation and mindfulness involved. We all to soon take for granted the simple things. Chasing happiness in material things instead of sinking into an understanding, the way you'd sink into a plush couch. Instantaneously realizing that happiness really is about noticing the simple things. Being hugged by the notion, thereby transforming your attitude and outlook.
Winter is the most hygge time of year. It is candles, nubby woolens, shearling slippers, woven textiles, pastries, blond wood, sheepskin rugs, lattes with milk-foam hearts, and a warm fireplace. Hygge can be used as a noun, adjective, verb, or compound noun, like hyggebukser, otherwise known as that shlubby pair of pants you would never wear in public but secretly treasure. Hygge can be found in a bakery and in the dry heat of a sauna in winter, surrounded by your naked neighbors. It’s wholesome and nourishing, like porridge; Danish doctors recommend “tea and hygge” as a cure for the common cold. It’s possible to hyggealone, wrapped in a flannel blanket with a cup of tea, but the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.
In “The Little Book of Hygge,” the best-selling of the current crop of books, Meik Wiking, the C.E.O. of a Copenhagen think tank called the Happiness Research Institute, shares a story about a Christmas Day spent with friends in a woodsy cabin. After a hike in the snow, the friends sat around the fireplace wearing sweaters and woolen socks, listening to the crackle of the fire, and enjoying mulled wine. One of his friends asked, “Could this be any more hygge?” Everyone nodded when one woman replied, “Yes, if a storm were raging outside.”
Feel at ease with the season
Hygge is here to stay. You can call it a trend but it's actually more of a return to tradition and a realization that it's okay to relax and let the season keep you in. Don't miss out on celebrating in your own happy, peaceful, mindful and appreciateve way. The beautiful thing is, there is no right or wrong way! Consider practicing hygge this year where you can, making cozy inroads into soft and warm luxuriousness. Everyone needs a little warmth and comfort.