Hygge & Warming Up to Winter

May 02, 2016

Now that Autumn is in full swing and the air is getting crisp, the days cloudier, and evening walks require bundling up in boots and coats, I have decided I must embrace this change of seasons.

It didn't come easily I have to admit, but what changed things for me was hygge.

I have a friend who lived in tropical Hawaii but was from the Northeast USA, and no, her name is not hygge …we'll get to hygge in a minute, be patient! My friend loved Hawaii, but she desperately missed true winters with snow, and icicles, and freezing temperatures that last for months on end, and all that miserable stuff. 

I do like the snow. It snows in Arizona from time to time but it melts after an hour or two and doesn't take your fingers and toes with it. If I wanted more of it, say to go sledding, I would drive a half hour or so to the mountains and go sledding, then I’d drive back down to the hospitable world afterwards (or hospital ward if needed). The idea of being snowed in or shoveling snow off your driveway every morning sounds more than inconvenient, it sounds downright deadly to me!

I asked my friend once what on earth she could possibly like about winter, and her reply was hot chocolate by the fireplace, wrapping up in wooly blankets, toasting marshmallows, that sort of thing.

Now, I admit I am just slightly a teensy-weensy little bit of a pyromaniac, so the cogs started turning and it almost clicked in my head. Maybe there was something to this winter obsession after all!

It was some time after that when I first heard about the concept of hygge. Hygge (pronounced HYOO-gah) is a Danish word for a cozy, warm ambience often with good food and company. There isn’t really an English equivalent but it is basically a cozy, intimate environment. 

Warming your toes by the fire while wrapped up in a snuggly blanket with a mug of hot spiced apple cider in your hands, a warm pot of soup and crusty buttered bread at the table, friends and family singing, sharing stories, and laughing, candles and lights twinkling, the scent of cinnamon lingering in the air, and a fire crackling in the stove - these are all hygge. These are the things that would get the Danes through their blistering cold winters, and in fact make them look forward to winter even! 

Winter survival, I realized, is possible if I stop pining for warmth on the outside and instead turn inward to find warmth and light from within; and then share that warmth with others to light up the room like the night sky! It is a concept that finally resonates with me. 

From now on, I will not complain about the coming of winter, but look forward to the coziness and closeness that it brings to my home. I will string lights (never mind that Christmas on this side of the world is half a year away - in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer), I will throw cozy blankets on the couch, I will cook hearty meals, and I will gather my family to sing and call out the names of God who resides within the hearts of each and every one of us as the Paramatma (Holy Spirit). There is nothing more comforting and soothing to the soul.

I think I might just have a new favorite season!

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