Why winter is a hygge deal…

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

~Edith Sitwell

My heritage is easy to trace. Most of my ancestors came from Scandinavia and Germany. Typical Wisconsin lineage. My understanding is ethnic groups often flock to a land similar their country of origin.

With this thought in mind, it makes sense that my people settled here in the North. I grew up anticipating snow and cold. That’s what makes winter winter. As a child, I spent weekends ice skating and sledding and shoveling and fort building. Walking home from school in the cold wasn’t cruel- it was life.

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It wasn’t until I married someone from the complete opposite environment did I realize my mindset was unusual. Be okay with cold? Embrace the winter? Even to this day Stephen finds winter depressing.

What’s the secret to enjoying what is miserable? I never had a name for it, but recently discovered that my mindset is Scandinavian. Hygge. (Hyoo-guh) Funny thing, Germans have a similar concept: Gemütlichkeit.

It gives the idea of a cozy intimacy. Contentment. You drink something warm. You light a candle. Perhaps you read a book or play a game. You might just spend time with family or friends. Even binge watching a good show can fall into this concept.

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You may say, “Leah, I already do these things when winter sets in.” Great! Did you realize that these life patterns help us cope with harsh conditions? It is the difference between enduring winter and embracing winter.

When we realize that perspective changes action, we can take what seems a curse and see it for what it really is: a gift. A part of life to be experienced. Winter, in my perspective, is a time to slow down and enjoy the very basic things of life. Do I still have to go endure the cold? You betcha! Does it bother me? Not really, because I know it is temporary and I will always have my warm home to return to.

King Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from Him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? ~Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

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It really is okay to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It is not only okay, but a good thing to take time to slow down and see the gifts God has given you, relish them, and thank your Heavenly Father for them. It isn’t hedonism to share those blessings with others in a spirit of warmth and congeniality.

I really, truly believe that this season is designed specifically for this hygge, for this gemütlichkeit.

In Wisconsin, we are embarking on several days of sub-zero temperatures, the likes of which I have not seen since my childhood. It will get crazy. But we will also hunker down with blankets and comfy socks with candles glowing and endless mugs of hot chocolate and hygge. It’s in our blood.

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