Instead of dreading winter as many do here, the Scandinavians actually seem to come alive and embrace the dark and cold of winter. Have you heard of the trend called hygge? The word is kind of hard to define, but some equate it to a sense of coziness, creating warmth in your home, and embracing the season.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) was originally a Norwegian word but was adopted by the Danes and is now used widely across Scandinavia. The concept seems to have jumped "across the pond" and has been embraced by many Americans as well. You can read more about the spread of the hygge lifestyle in a Time magazine article here and in a Star Tribune article from Minnesota here.
So, how do the Scandinavians practice hygge and stay so positive in the winter months? From the various articles I've read, the practice of hygge includes the following.
1. Candle light...used liberally in homes throughout the winter. This is an easy one for me...I love lighting candles all over the house in the fall and winter. There's nothing like a good scented candle to make your home smell wonderful!
2. Bring the outside in by using branches, greens, flowers, and berries to bring nature into your home...perhaps to remind yourself that spring is around the corner. I love using birch branches and greenery in the winter in the house.
3. Enjoy hot drinks...coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and glogg, a Scandinavian hot mulled wine. In the fall and winter, I often keep a tray of assorted tea bags or a hot chocolate bar on the counter...and the coffee pot is always at the ready!
4. Use cozy knits in your home...wooly socks, throws, and blankets to keep warm. I have several off white knit throws that friends knit for me or have given me that get well used in the winter! These toasty nordic slipper socks were a gift from my sister.
5. Serve a sweet treat...Scandinavians are known for their yummy cookies, pastries, and chocolate. Here is sampling of Norwegian treats and a cute dessert table using lots of candles and white lights...so cozy!
6. Be sociable...meet up with friends, invite neighbors and friends over, and celebrate friendship and laughter. We love having friends join us in Leavenworth to play in the snow!
7. Eat well...good, hearty, comfort foods like soups and stews. As you know, I'm making a new soup every week this winter and sharing the recipes with you!
8. Create a sense of refuge and calm...good music, a fire in the fireplace, a good book. Don't you just love curling up by a fireplace in the winter? I love how cozy these rooms are!
9. Get outside...walk, snowshoe, ski, and play in the snow or cold. We tried a new cross country ski trail in Plain this winter when friends came to join us. You can rent the skis, boots, and poles right at Plain Hardware, buy a day pass, and ski across the road and jump on the trail. After a strenuous ski (not!), we stopped at Mountain Springs Lodge for a coffee...so fun!
10. Take time to linger...over conversation, over meals, and relish a slower pace for the winter. Don't we all need to do more of this?
As the article in Time said, adopting hygge goes beyond simple cozy domesticity, but learning to be resilient and making the most of what life offers you. Yes, even when it's cold, the landscape is bare, and you feel like hibernating...good things can come out of this season.
Would love to hear how any of you adopt a sense of hygge in your life this winter! Warmly, Gracia