Have a Hygge Holiday Season and Winter!

Hygge

 Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

“Holiday season” is defined in various ways. Yours may or may not be the same as mine – and any of us may decide to modify our definition in this unique year of the pandemic. Personally, I celebrate Christmas through the 12th day of Christmas, January 5. There are ways in which I extend it even beyond that. I wrote about that last year (pre-pandemic) here: https://carolbrusegar.com/expanding-parameters-december-holiday/

At whatever point you read this, the ideas can be applied to the days and weeks ahead – including through the winter months as we continue to stay at home much more than usual. Let’s all have a Hygge holiday season and winter!

Hygge has become increasingly popular everywhere in recent years. Perhaps you are already a devotee,  perhaps you’ve never heard of it, or perhaps you’d like to explore the idea more. So let’s start with what it is and where it came from.

Hygge, pronounced (Hue-gah) is a Danish word originally derived from an Old Norwegian word meaning well-being and protection from the outside elements. Denmark has notoriously cold, long winters. The concept of hygge has been used by Danish people to help mentally combat the brutally dark, relentless winter season and fill their homes with comfort and love. Hygge is a word that is so important to Danish people; it’s often used to describe what their culture is all about. Hygge is not necessarily something specific that you can buy, because it’s more of a feeling than a possession. Hygge really is the epitome of Danish living; in the last several years the concept of hygge has made its way to the US and many other countries with extreme popularity and trendiness.

Hygge can widely be described as a feeling of coziness, comfort, familiarity, friendship, laughter and seasonal homemade food and drinks. Although it’s possible to achieve hygge any time of the year (an outdoor BBQ with friends or a movie under the stars with family are great examples of summertime hygge), Hygge is generally associated with the colder months. This is because of its ability to uplift spirits during dark, long winter months. It can be especially comforting and enjoyable during these months of the pandemic. As we are staying safe at home to protect ourselves and others, focusing on creating peaceful, cozy surroundings can fill us with the feeling of contentment. Here are a few, simple ways you can bring holiday hygge into your home.

Warm lighting – achieve a great sense of hygge, by lighting some candles, having a real or gas fire or setting up string lights. Warm lightning is key to coziness.

Cozy linens, blankets and textures – get out all of those soft, fluffy blankets and have them available on the couch or chairs and by the windows, so that you can easily cuddle up with your favorite books and movies and relax.

Home cooking and baking – cooking some traditional holiday meals and treats will help bring holiday hygge into your home. Comfort foods like holiday ham, stews/soups/chilis, breads of all kinds, cookies, and apple/pumpkin/sweet potato pies will waft soul-warming scents throughout the air, making your home feel cozy and cared for. Baking together is a perfect hygge activity. It may be items that have become traditions, or a way to try new recipes that may be added to that list for coming years.

Comforting scents – filling your home with festive and cozy scents can be done in a variety of ways.  You can use scented candles, scented wax in a wax warmer, or scented oils. A wide variety of scents are available – warm vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices as well as pine and peppermint are some holiday favorites. Potpourri can be placed in open bowls in various rooms and refreshed with scented oils, or simmered with water on the stove or in a slow cooker. Scented pinecones and fresh evergreen trees or boughs are always a great addition.

Warm beverages – drinking these can warm body and soul. Hot chocolate can be varied in many delightful ways, as can apple cider. I wrote about the latter earlier: Apple Cider – Fall’s Delicious, Variable, Healthy Beverage!  Of course there are many other options for all ages!!

Try some new things, repeat things that you’ve enjoyed before, and have a Hygge holiday season and winter!!

 

If you’d like to learn more, I have two recommendations:

Here’s a great book written by a Dane who is a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living

This coloring book not only has Hygge designs, but includes the concepts along with some journal pages, tips for coloring and some finished products to illustrate them.

Hygge Happy Coloring Book: Coloring Pages for a Cozy Life (Design Originals) Discover the Scandinavian Secret of Happiness & Enjoy the Good Things in Life with Mellow, Relaxing Hygge Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hygge as Self Care in Tough Times

HyggeWhether it is a time of stay-at-home during a pandemic, or just extreme weather conditions, Hygge attitudes and practices can help us get through all of it.  Stress, anxiety, personal or societal tensions and conflicts abound. There are things we can all do to regain and maintain our equilibrium and inner peace. 

I invite you to embrace the Hygge principles of self-care like togetherness, relaxation, indulgence, presence, and comfort. Small effort and not much money are required for this and the payoffs can be significant.

Anne Roderique-Jones provides a fun overview of Hygge and its benefits in this article  “I Practiced Hygge and It’s Kind of the Best Thing Ever” which appeared in the December 25, 2018 issue of Self Magazine. After reading The Little Book of Hygge and implementing its suggestions, her conclusion was:

While hygge is not just about making sure you have (certain) elements in your space—after all, the main component of hygge is that you’re feeling present and spending quality time with yourself or your loved ones—the book did offer up plenty of advice that helped me get to that feeling of coziness and contentment. All in all, I can say with certainty that hygge is my jam. … Right now, when our world feels a little bit uncertain, hygge is a way to practice self-care that feels sincere.

Self care isn’t an escape from reality. It is a way to refill yourself with the energy, focus, and peace that will enable you to do your best, whatever the situation.

The Little Book of Hygge will get you started.

Hygge – the Art of Coziness in Winter and Beyond


Time to Hygge

Baby, it’s COLD outside!  It’s time to hygge!

You have probably heard the word “hygge” or seen Pinterest photos related to it. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “a Danish 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.” The practice originated and thrives in Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries as well. The Danes believe in simplifying your life in order to bring in more positivity, comfort and contentment – and it is effective. Denmark regularly comes out as #1 in the World Happiness Report.

Hygge is all about being cozy, warm, comfortable, positive, and happy. You spend more time with family and friends. You forget the notions of material possessions and simplify your life. You spend more time in front of the fire while snuggling under a warm blanket.

This and so much more is what hygge represents. This brief video from Denmark provides a window into what it means and how it is lived there:  Hygge

Some basic elements of Hygge include creating a relaxed atmosphere, encouraging more family time, and inviting friends over for non-electronic activities. This is easily done by having lots of blankets and pillows where you spend relaxing time, adding candles and essential oils for flickering light and pleasant aromas, having great books laying around, playing relaxing music, utilizing your fireplace if you have one, and indulging in treats – beverages and sweets in particular.

Some may see this as indulgent; the Danes and others recognize it as effective self-care. If you haven’t tried it in an intentional way, this winter is a great time to do so.

If you want to learn more about it from a Dane, here’s a link to the book mentioned in the video, written by a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute:        The Little Book of Hygge