Hygge, a Powerful Weapon Against Holiday Overwhelm

(a :03 minute read) Hygge (pronounced hoo’ ga) ~origin: Norway, Denmark

1.life moments brimming with happiness, comfort, loved ones, favorite things, beautiful places 2. savoring the present moment 3. the good life

A couple of years ago, I wrote a little article about an odd word, hygge. A blog post had caught my eye. It was entitled How ‘Hygge’ Can Help You Get Through Winter. The subject was a ritual that happens in Denmark, long known as the happiest country on the planet. It’s a Nordic culture that begs to be borrowed and embraced into our way of life. Actually, the essence of hygge is hard to capture. More than a thing they do, it is actually a very deliberate and intentional mood adjustment the Danes make to create brightness, happiness, contentment and comfort during their winter nights.

I love the change of seasons and I actually look forward to winter. It’s so serene and restful. Maybe it’s in my genetic code. I’m pure Scandinavian; half Icelandic and half Danish. Long winter nights are the norm there and I suppose my DNA is programmed so I not only endure them but I enjoy them. The nights are getting long and dark as we slide toward the winter solstice. It’s time to understand the joy of hygge.

The Time for Hygge is Now

We had a powdered-sugar dusting of snow this weekend. The air was crisp and cold. It snapped the masses into hustle-bustle mode. The mall was full of shoppers who seemed surprised to realize that Christmas is less than three weeks away. (That’s only about ten minutes from now on the celestial clock, you know.)

If you ask a Dane, they might shrug their shoulders and tell you it is about candles, cake, coffee and chocolate, comforters, board games and mulled wine shared with family and friends, stuff like that. Fuzzy definitions, all different. Danes are simple and have modest needs to enjoy life. It’s more mental than anything. Hygge is a down-shift to a state of mind where nothing disturbs the self-induced state of serenity. In Denmark, hygge allows for conviviality to balance out consumerism and all the Christmas materialism we collide with here every year about this time.

Last week, I wrote about learning to let go of some of the self-induced pressures of the holidays. Later, I remembered my post about hygge and I wanted to share it with you here. It’s a fantastic weapon that helps you extinguish the fiery arrows of “gotta, oughta and should” that come flying at you this time of year.

Slow down to the speed of serenity

I encourage you to get yourself some hygge this year. Spend a little less money and a bit less time decorating, baking, running. Spend a little more time thinking about what really matters. Gather your loved ones near you when you can. If you find yourself alone, savor it, don’t mourn it. A little solitude is a good thing. Cultivate a habit of taking a sacred pause to reflect on your life and where it’s going. Don’t neglect this valuable practice, it will teach you much.

Please spend more time with a cup of cocoa in your hand, listening to some of your favorite Christmas music. Stare into the fireplace and think about where you are right now. Squint at the lights on the Christmas tree like you did as a child. (If you hold your eyes just right you can make them look like they all have tiny halos around them.)

Please watch at least one or two sappy movies all cuddled in a quilt. And finally, devote some time to reading Luke’s story of the birth of our Savior, the real reason we celebrate the season. Savor the peace and beauty that is all around you if you take the time to know it. One more thing, I’m doing my best to take my own advice.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle




  • Grant Newbold

    Betty. What a great post for the NOW we are in with Christmas coming fast. My mom came from Denmark when she was 4 so perhaps I have some of the Hygge in my DNA also. At any rate I too will resolve to follow the advice of this blog and keep the focus of the season where it needs to be. Thanks Betty. Doc Newbold.

    • Betty Streff

      It’s very calming. Simply allow the long dark nights to shape our patience with coziness and time to reflect on our blessings.

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