Well, this is very lovely. The wind is really raging outside, tearing branches from trees and scattering all sorts of things into all sorts of places they shouldn’t be, and I’m tucked up in our back room drinking ginger wine in front of a lovely log fire. That feeling of being cosied up while the elements get all extreme outside is a very appealing one, and although it is possible to get some of that feeling in the summer (usually lying in a warm sleeping bag in a tent while the rain bounces off), winter is definitely the best time for it.
Because I have some lovely Danish friends and spent a bit of time in Denmark, when I think ‘cosy’ I also think ‘hygge’. It’s not a direct translation though; ‘cosy’ is about as close to an equivalent word in English but hygge means a bit more than that and it can be a bit tricky to nail it in English because it encapsulates some important elements of Danish culture, but roughly speaking it is the feeling one gets when the fire and/or candles are lit and you have good food, good drink (if that’s your thing) and good company. Christmas is naturally the high season for hygge and spending time with family or friends in a nicely-decorated front room with a Christmas tree and a real fire is positively dripping with it. It’s definitely not confined to Christmas though and having as many hyggelit times is a great way to not only survive but enjoy the winter.
Jo and I are both pretty keen on lots of aspects of Scandinavian culture and I think that’s unsurprising given our interest in winter and ways of approaching it, since the Scandinavians have darker, longer and harsher winters than we do and have had to find ways of keeping their spirits up. Really they are winter experts and it pays to know what they get up to, even if we can’t often go cross-country skiing or watch the Northern Lights.
I have tried to fit as much hygge into this winter as possible and I think it has been very positive for me. Despite the ferocious storm outside it is starting to feel like this winter is winding down and very soon the daffodils and crocuses will be out to spring in earnest, so I am keen to squeeze more hygge in before it’s too late. I never imagined that I would find a winter too short but this year I think I have. Mind you, it doesn’t need to stop there, summer evenings can be very hyggelit, just in a different way. For now I’ll keep enjoying the light inside and the dark outside. Skål!