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The holiday season is indeed the most wonderful time to embrace the cold and darkness of winter. There’s something decidedly festive and romantic about the icy chill in the air and the short days that quickly give way to dark nights—perfect for enjoying a crackling fire and the warm glow of twinkling Christmas lights. But then the holidays pass, the lights and decorations come down, and all of a sudden, for many people, winter just feels sad. In fact, so many people hit a collective low come January that it’s been determined that the month’s third Monday is the most depressing day of the year. But whether you, like so many others, just start to feel a little down or you suffer from full-blown seasonal affective disorder, there’s hope for you this winter, courtesy of our Nordic friends in Denmark, who’ve long practiced a lifestyle, defined by “hygge” (pronounced H(Y)OO-guh or HOOG-uh), that helps them embrace their short, frigid days and long dark nights.
So what is “hygge”? Well that part is harder to explain, because there is no direct translation for the word. So many people across the globe are trying to understand and capture hygge in their lives though that the word made the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year shortlist, and has been defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” Sounds pretty enticing, right?
If you’re ready to bring hygge into your life—and find a way to enjoy this winter in the process—here are six easy ways to embrace hygge.
Hygge is all about simplifying and making room for what matters most in life, and you can’t do that when you’re home and workspace are overflowing with “stuff.” If you’ve been intrigued by the trend toward minimalism fueled by the runaway success of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” now’s the time to give it a try. Kondo promises that “putting [your] house in order positively affects all other aspects of [your life], including work and family.” Ready to get started? Moms, you might want to start with your kids’ playroom.
2. Create A Glow
The Danes know that nothing says warmth and comfort quite like a roaring fire and flickering candles. In fact, more candles are burned in Denmark than anywhere else in Europe. So do as the Danes do and light a candle—even at breakfast—on those cold, dark winter mornings and evenings.
3. Get Cozy
You won’t feel all warm and snuggly inside if you’re shivering on the outside. Envelop yourself in luxuriously textured, warm textiles—soft cashmere sweaters, chunky throws, plush rugs, voluminous down comforters, shearling slippers. Even better, pull on your coziest jammies, pour a cup of tea and knit your own chunky throw.
4. Turn Off The Tech
Get back to basics by turning off the TV, putting away your phone and computer and cracking open a good old-fashioned book. You’ll give your eyes and brain a break from the ravages of blue light and you’ll even retain more of what you’ve read.
5. Come Together
When it’s too cold to go outside, you have the perfect opportunity to find new ways to connect with family and friends on a more personal level. Hygge is about creating a “communion with people and places that anchors and affirms us, gives us courage and consolation,” says Louisa Thomson Brits, author of “The Book of Hygge.” Without the distraction of strangers that accompanies a trip to a crowded restaurant, busy park or chaotic shopping mall, you can take the time to really focus on the people you love. Play cards or a board game, cook dinner together, or pitch a tent inside, fill it with snuggly pillows and blankets and have an indoor “campout.”
6. Eat, Drink And Be Merry
Take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of a good meal and great wine, but don’t go crazy. There’s no need to turn your kitchen upside down preparing a gourmet meal with 100 ingredients. All it takes is a simple bowl of pasta accompanied by a fresh green salad and some crusty bread, washed down with a great bottle of red wine. Perfection!