For every jam-packed holiday party with blazing fires, festive lights, and cheery tunes, I need a quiet half hour wrapped in a blanket and a cat on my lap. This time of the year is wonderful for getting together with friends and family, but for many of us, work gets busier, daylight gets shorter, and every waking minute is filled with a task. Be merry! Spread joy! Smile for our card/selfie/Instagram post!
So as jolly as this might be, let's pause for a minute while I share a secret to help us all unwind after the holidays, and greet the New Year genuinely refreshed. It's a Danish word and concept called hygge (pronounced "HEW-gə").
Hygge is "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." It suggests a softer, calmer routine, and allows, nay demands, that you live in the moment and surround yourself with things and people that bring you enjoyment and relaxation. To me, hygge is a soft, warm light (it used to be candles but now I tell Alexa to dim the lights to 40% and turn them warm white). Hygge can be sitting on a blanket that I knitted a few years ago. But no pressure ... sitting on the blanket I found on Black Friday does fine, too. I put on my fuzzy socks and pick out something uplifting to read or watch. Or sometimes I just close my eyes and indulge in some luxurious me time.
With its roots in Danish culture, hygge shows us that all people long for moments of repose to recharge our depleted batteries. Its spirit of self-care is evident in our pop culture of the moment. It is a girl dinner, goblin mode, and binge-watching all in one.
How can you hygge? The best part is you don't even need to leave the house! The Library District has an abundance of eBooks and eAudiobooks that you can access from our digital collection. How about we begin with Danielle Kristiansen's "Hygge: The Secrets of the Hygge Art Towards a Stress-Free and Happier Life."
Get the kids on board with "Anna and Elsa's Hygge Life" as this comfy, cozy story will help youngsters appreciate the power of a blanket fort.
Hygge is not about things, but your environment and experience. Cozy socks, warm drinks, familiar company. It is a fun book club group at your local library, playing games with your family, or enjoying year-end lists and movie marathons. The best primer for discovering your hygge is Meik Wiking's "My Hygge Home: How to Make Your Home Your Happy Place":
A few things that hygge is not. It is not losing 15 pounds in January. It is not a New Year's resolution to learn two new languages and clean your garbage by the spring. It is not working 60 hours a week to make up for the time you took off over the holidays. Nope. Hygge advises you to sit down, grab something soft, sip something warm, pick up a book, TV remote, or phone (to call a friend, not scroll on social media), and take time to see how that feels. Simple pleasures are truly the best, especially in this pause at the end of the year.
Thanks for finding some of your contentment here with us at the Library District. We wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!