It’s winter. Daylight hours are dwindling and with so many preparations to make for the holidays, life can feel overwhelming. The sheer act of going outside requires careful application of many, varied layers. So what can you do to inspire some cheer when your mind can’t help but daydream of hibernating until the days of warmth and sunshine return? This year I am using a Danish tradition called hygge and a new library resource called Creativebug to help me fight my inner Grinch.
Higgie? Hooga? Hyoogah? If you ask my friends, they’ll tell you each time I explain hygge to them, I do it differently and probably pronounce it four or five times in an attempt to get it right. According to Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge, you don’t need to know how to pronounce it well to benefit from the practice. He said, “Hygge is humble and slow. It is choosing rustic over new, simple over posh and ambiance over excitement. In many ways, hygge might be the Danish cousin to slow and simple living.”
Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga or hue-ga) isn’t a new concept, in fact, its Danish history goes as far back as the late 18th century. The word is rooted in old Norwegian culture and translates closely to “well-being.” Hygge has become increasingly popular in the United States in the last few years. Who wouldn’t want to borrow some wisdom from the world’s happiest country? The Oxford Dictionary even included it as a finalist in its “Word of the Year” list. Hygge can be used as a noun, conveying a state of mind or feeling; a verb, to describe spending time with friends or having fun; or an adjective, emphasizing a warm and cozy quality.
Hygge is undeniably difficult to describe but easy to understand when you feel it. It’s the sense of joy and warmth associated with things like candlelight, nature and a cup of hot cocoa. It’s slowing down and feeling positive emotions like comfort and well-being. It is the feeling of gratitude that comes from a lovely atmosphere and heart-warming experiences. And the best part? You can easily create it for yourself.
Crafting is a great way to bring hygge into even the darkest winter days. I did a quick search through Creativebug’s classes and found many hygge options! If you’re a knitter, these seed stitch slippers would make a lovely hygge gift for friends and family or a treat for yourself. If cooking in your homey kitchen gets you going, there’s a class on how to make homemade marshmallows to add to your cocoa and sweeten up those long, cold nights.
Perhaps you’re trying to find a way to bring some candlelight into your life? Classes on creating teacup candles or luminaria candle shades may be right up your alley. If like me, you want to change your Grinch-like ways this winter, you might be interested in partaking in a daily practice and make a gratitude art journal to kindle those inner hygge flames. There’s also a class on how to extend gratitude out into your community by living a more thankful life. They’ve got classes on holiday card-making, watercolor, sewing, crocheting and so much more!
Hygge feels like a hug when you need it most. Perhaps for you, hygge is cuddling up on the couch with a few good library books, a hot beverage, and your favorite fuzzy socks. In Making Winter: A Hygge-Inspired Guide to Surviving the Winter Months, Emma Mitchell offers craft ideas and recipes that mean hygge to her. However, a book doesn’t have to be hygge-themed to give you the same sense of good cheer and vitality.
Our Arts and Crafts Neighborhood is full of books that will help you learn new ways to craft. Our resources can also help you build skills you already have. You can even check out one of our art kits to help get you through those gray days of winter. What matters is that you empower yourself to bring hygge into your life and feel the benefits that cozy creativity can bring. Last time I checked it was definitely cold out there, so join me for a little hygge. Happy hygge and happy crafting!