It's starting to feel like spring will never come, but the popular concept of hygge can make the rest of winter better!
It’s ironic that February is the shortest calendar month, because mentally it feels like the longest for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Winter is really starting to drag, and spring still feels so far away. Even Valentine’s Day offers little respite. Luckily I’ve found ways to make this time of year more enjoyable by embracing the Danish concept of hygge.
Hygge has been having a bit of a cultural moment the past few years. Defined as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” it has no equivalent in English, but has caught on like wildfire as so many English speakers find that it resonates in their lives.
As a Miami Cuban by birth, transplanted to snowy Chicago, I find the cold weather pretty miserable. Hygge has become my survival strategy. It’s part of how I design my home, host gatherings, and conduct my overall lifestyle. February is the best time of year to bring a little hygge into your home.
Enjoying hygge doesn’t mean you need to buy anything or make big changes to your life. It’s about a slower way of doing things, really celebrating the homemade and domestic approach that is so often missing in today’s fast-paced world. This article about the Norwegian variant, “koselig,” explains it well. It’s all about making yourself and the people around you feel warm, cozy, cared-for, and loved. Hospitality is a virtue, after all, and one that dovetails wonderfully with hygge.
Here are a few ways to have hygge when it’s just your family, or you’re on your own:
- Light candles on the bookshelves and dinner table
- Play your favorite music as you prep or clean up dinner
- Serve “afternoon tea” with a favorite mug and make a little ceremony of it, perhaps reading aloud or listening to good music
- Wear comfortable, cozy sweaters, warm socks, or slippers
- Cook and bake from scratch as much as possible
- Snuggle up on the couch with blankets to read a book along with or to your kids
- Dim the lights in the evening
Here are a few ways to have hygge in your home when friends come over:
- Hand them a drink or something to eat soon after they walk in the door (if possible, something special and homemade, like a latte or fresh muffin)
- Have pleasant music playing in the background
- Don’t stress about making everything look staged and picture-perfect; a little mess makes people feel at home
- Give guests an easy “job” (like taking plates to the table) so they feel comfortable and “part of the family” right away
- Offer comfortable blankets to wrap up in, if it’s cold out
- If possible, set the table nicely with cloth napkins, candlesticks, etc.
Just remember, in a month the maple sap will be flowing, and spring will be on its way. We can get through these last few weeks of winter, with the help of some hygge in our days!
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