“Hygge” [pronounced hoo-gah] translates to “fun”, or snuggling, or cherishing oneself, but the practice of hygge is a lifestyle trend that has caught on like wildfire. It is particularly useful in a climate like the Pacific NorthWest (PNW), where we get a really good dose of winter every year, with gloomy overcast skies and lots of drizzle. I like to think of Hygge as "the Danish art of snuggling up by a warm fire with a mug of brewed cacao and a really good book". I’ve always been a bit of a homebody this time of year - while I love getting out to see the bright holiday lights in my adopted homeland of Sherwood, Oregon (just south of Portland), there is also nothing I love more than lighting our fireplace “xtraordinaire” (which heats our entire downstairs with wood from fallen trees on our farm), putting on some soup in my claypot slow cooker, and brewing up some hot chocolate or good coffee to enjoy while I read one of the books that have been stacking up all summer. This winter we plan to install new curtains in our living room to get an even cozier feel. If you’re curious about Hygge, I love Meik Wiking’s book: The Little Book of Hygge [https://amzn.to/2PWsCNF], which has been a strong performer in the amazon rankings in the alternative health section. I also wanted to ask our staff and faculty here at American College of Healthcare Sciences how they hygge when the cold weather rolls around?
Here’s what they shared with me:
On vacation days in winter I like to make a big fancy breakfast after sleeping in. Bacon and eggs, waffles with real butter and real maple syrup, coffee with chocolate added and a slice of orange peel (Cafe Borgia--its a real thing). I like to eat enough so that I don’t need to eat lunch. When I’ve had too much Cafe Borgia and feel motivated I’ll pick the messiest room in my place and clean and organize it. Some folks do spring cleaning, and I do winter cleaning. After all, I will spend more time indoors during the winter and it's fun to Hygge in a clean and organized place. I can then sit in my easy chair under a cozy throw blanket and read some of the books on my “must read” list. ~Scott Stuart, Department Chair, Herbal Medicine
From being born in and living in Portland my entire life, I have become a master at Hygge! In order to have fun outdoors and feel snuggly, in Portland winters, I love to wear my Uggs. Enjoying a winter day off at home requires cotton pajamas, sleeping in, a homemade breakfast and then any of the following: cooking to get caught up on meal prep, straightening up the house, walking my puppy, playing fetch with my puppy, enjoying good TV programs, reading while under my electric blanket, having 50’s/60’s Jazz playing in the house, getting caught up on personal desk/work, talking with a friend and hopefully having someone I love home with me :) And if my son is home from college, listening to him play one of his musical instruments ~Audra Turner, Executive Assistant
The Winter Solstice, the longest night and shortest day, marks my “new year,” and is one of the most important days of the year for me. I aim to organize my schedule so I can spend as much time as possible in meditation that day, reviewing the passing year and planting metaphoric seeds for what is to come. As the sunlight wanes and the starry night skies predominate, I am drawn irresistibly inward – for rest and contemplation and dreaming. This is the time of deepest renewal for me – exactly when everyone I know is planning potlucks and skating parties and holiday celebrations. What I crave is quiet time by the fire, a book and a cup of chamomile tea! And the more I honor this inward pull, the more likely I am to emerge from this holiday season renewed rather than frazzled and relieved to have it over~ Judith Boice, Assistant Professor
My Hygge happens early in the morning, when I am the first person to rise in my home. As a single mom, you have to make “everything” happen, so I like to take the first few moments of my day to spend supporting myself. A cup of hot coffee, snuggling with my two rescue kitties, and watching the sun come up through my big sliding glass door that faces east. I also thumb through magazines and catalogues, as a simple pleasure of reading for fun. I read and write technical writing during the day and the nerd in me loves that too, but this is just for comfort and enjoyment. What is so special, is my son also loves his quiet time in the morning, and spends it in front of the little electric fireplace heater in his room, wrapped in his favorite blanket, watching youtube videos. Hygge time wraps up with preparing breakfast (and hot chocolate!) for my son and delivering it to him. ~Amanda Lattin, Department Chair, Aromatherapy
Hygge can also translate as a warm, cozy feeling, which is how I best identify with it. I Hygge at home during the holidays, cuddled up in my favorite overstuffed chair reading a book, listening to the crackling of the fire. This time of year, I also enjoy the warm glow coming from the Christmas tree. If the house is quiet, which it rarely is, I like to read a new book. I could do this for hours! ~Libby Bennett, Associate Professor [Yes, Pride and Prejudice fans, Elizabeth Bennett teaches English at American College of Healthcare Sciences!]
Making homemade organic potato and butter soup in my Uggs and flannel pajamas while listening to classical music in the background is how I Hygge. Curling up on the couch with a loved one enjoying our soup and a movie afterward is the best! ~ Abbey Skinner, Professor
I grew up in a family with a rather unique tradition. On Christmas Eve, we gathered with aunts, uncles and cousins on my dad’s side of the family, to share a meal and open Christmas gifts. We played a game of “Christmas Eve Gift” which involved shouting out to each person in the room “Christmas Eve Gift” upon entering the house. There was always a flurry of I got you first, no, I got you first comments and happy greetings following the initial entry of each family member. One of my fondest memories is one Christmas Eve, arriving at my aunt Dude’s home with my younger sister and my older brother driving. We parking in the back of the house and began sneaking up through the backyard for a surprise entry. Somehow we were detected in advance and my uncles were hiding behind trees and bushes to surprise us with shouts of “Christmas Eve Gift.” I can still see my grandmother in my memories, hiding behind a chair and popping up from behind to share her “Christmas Eve” greeting when she was well into her 90’s. As a family, we are now spread across the miles, yet, we still call and/or use social media to greet each other in the traditional family way that has been passed down from more generations than I know about. ~ Judy Starr
These all sound amazing... and now I'm curious what your traditions are! Please share in the comments below so we can all embrace our hygge-ness this winter!