I will be at home this weekend, wrapping up some updates that will have our house feeling pulled together and calm.
Calmness is something I’ve been trying to cultivate for a while now, and although there is little time to rest as we enter the holiday shopping season, the first at our downtown store Far + Wide, it’s hard to fight the natural pull to slow down and hibernate.
The Danes have a word for this: Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge describes a feeling of coziness and appreciation for a special moment alone or with friends. It’s about filling one’s daily routine with comfort, creating simple rituals and awareness of every good moment.
While Hygge is practised throughout the year, it’s a natural fit for winter, when we all need to find ways to lift our spirits during the cold, dark months.
There isn’t an English word that translates it quite right, making Hygge hard to describe. I picture a quiet morning with a steaming hot cup of tea in my hand.
You don’t need to buy things or take drastic steps in order to “live Hygge.” Instead, Hygge is about taking measures to make your home more comfortable, connecting with friends and nature and slowing down to savour life.
At home, this may look like turning down the lights and lighting a candle, curling up by the fireplace or setting up some twinkling lights to create a feeling of coziness. It could include music, something that feels warm and special and indulgent, as well as lots of cozy sweaters, socks, blankets and pillows.
Creating a sense of calm and awareness of the moment will very likely call for you to unplug — so tuck your phone, laptop and TV remote away. Draw a luxurious bath after a long day of work, curl up with a new book or get out the board games for a night in with friends, and relax.
When it comes to eating and entertaining, Hygge focuses on indulgence.
This is the time for large pots of soup, fresh loaves of sourdough, local ingredients and celebrating the act of cooking — something I always find more enjoyable with some good music playing and a local beer in hand.
I have friends who get their whole family together to cook up huge batches of pierogis, cabbage rolls and jars of fresh tomato sauce. Others host casual cookie swap parties, an excuse to get together, eat delicious goodies and exchange recipes.
Approaching cooking like this is about more than making food, it’s about deliberate connection with a big dose of love.
Hygge is also about taking time to create and let your mind idle while your hands are busy; knitting is a favourite cold-weather project of mine. I always feel inspired and refreshed after allowing my brain a break for a little while and winter is a great time to get creative, making something for yourself or to gift.
If you’re a tea drinker, you could try your hand at creating special loose-leaf tea blends or elevate your hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows and peppermint syrup.
To connect with nature, bring fresh greenery inside for the holidays. This is one of my favourite things to do — the fragrance of the greenery is wonderful and it can be as easy as bunching different types of greenery, like cedar, fir, pine, eucalyptus or olive branch, in pretty vessels.
For those interested in exploring the topic deeper, there are lots of wonderful articles online, as well as some beautiful books available about Hygge.
With the holidays quickly approaching, a time many find hectic and stressful, taking time to pause and acknowledge each good moment may be what we all need. I’m sure it couldn’t hurt to find a little charm among the mundane everyday.
Calli Duncan is co-owner of Makeshift Kamloops and Far and Wide. For more, go online to farandwidekamloops.com.