For several years now, I have considered choosing a “word of the year”. A word to focus on throughout the year can at times be simpler and easier than a long list of resolutions. I started thinking about my word a couple of weeks ago.
The first word that came to mind was grace. I find that I can be easily frustrated – particularly with the shortcomings of others. This past year, I have been working on patience for others and also for myself – essentially extending grace. I hadn’t really adopted it as my “word of the year”, however. Even so, this wasn’t quite the word for which I was looking.
Recently, I’d liked a link shared on the Sons of Norway Facebook page, 20 Pictures that Explain ‘Hygge’, and a friend commented, “Gee, now I am hooked on “hygge!” I’ve known about hygge for a long time but as it happened to appear in my newsfeed simultaneously with posts about the new year, it struck me that this was my word.
Hygge is a lifestyle concept that comes from Scandinavia (specifically Norway and Denmark) and is not easily translated into English. It is about an atmosphere more than one thing in particular. The atmosphere is a combination of not just the place, but the companionship and the situation. It could be your own home, but also a cafe, a walk in nature, a casual meeting with a group of friends, or even by yourself.
Hygge has no real English translation, but essentially describes the feeling you get when you’re comfortable.
Hygge is something that happens in every season, but winter can be pictured as more hygge filled season with details like candlelight to brighten the dark evenings. In the summer, eating outside with friends is a great example of hygge. As I contemplated this word, I was very inspired to take the time to include more hygge in our life – both in homeschool and our daily routines.
Hygge is Adventure
When the kids were younger (elementary years), we had a very relaxed approach to homeschool. We completed our lessons early and had the rest of the day to play and explore passion projects. I would typically reserve one day a week for adventures – nature study outings, field trips, and leisurely days at the lake or up the river.
No matter where you go or what you do, you can bring the hygge. It’s a state of mind.
As they got older and more involved in outside activities, our leisure time began to erode. Lessons take longer and we have less time to freely explore. Not to mention, we’ve all gotten more distracted (do I dare say, addicted?) to our devices. It’s harder to motivate the kids to get outside.
I miss our adventures. I miss spending a leisurely afternoon on the beach watching them swim and dig in the sand. In 2016, we made it a family goal to get outside more – to go camping and to hike more frequently. We aimed to complete hike 52 different hikes in the calendar year. I’ll be writing a recap and reflection of this goal next week.
Hygge is Companionship
Spending quality time with family and friends has always been very important to me. I have very fond memories of large family gatherings for holidays and reunions – granted my mother does have six siblings so our extended family is very large. Click here for A Dozen or So Ideas for Family Time.
When something is hygge, you say it’s hyggelig (“HOO-gah-lee”): “That was a hyggelig evening.”
We’ve moved twice in the past five years. As a result, it is easy to lose connections with friends. I often feel lonely and disconnected. While I realize that not all friendships are “life long”, I know I need to make extra effort to keep the friendships that are dear to me alive. I can also reach out more in an effort to create new friendships. As an introvert, this can be a challenge.
Hygge is Joy
I love getting outdoors. I love watching my kids smile and delight in the wonders of nature. Spending time in nature is also rejuvenating for one’s soul. In 2016, I made it a personal goal to become a certified Oregon Master Naturalist. As a mother and homeschool parent, it is important to take care of me. Achieving Master Naturalist certification was rewarding both intellectually and personally.
The concept of hygge is very nostalgic: candlelight, anti-technology, and comforting traditions are all “hyggelig.”
This coming year, I look forward to renewing our weekly practice of nature journaling. Slowing down and reflecting upon our outings will be hyggelig. As will curling up with a book more regularly.
Hygge is Strength
One of the things that has brought me joy is strength and good health. I haven’t been consistent in my fitness these past few years. Exercise may not sound very hyggelig to most, but returning to a training program will bring comfort in knowing I am taking care of myself and in turn caring for my family.
“Hyg dig!” or “have hygge!” is a popular way to say goodbye.
How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen is already a top-seller on Amazon even though it won’t be released until January 3rd. It promises to be a fresh, informative, lighthearted, fully illustrated how-to guide to hygge. How to Hygge is a combination of recipes and helpful tips for cozy living at home. Pre-order your copy today.
Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hangman will warm you up and teach you to embrace the art of hygge, no matter where you live. This is a beautiful book of Scandinavian comfort food and the recipes are absolutely delicious. The recipes are very modern and healthy.