It's been a cold week filled with short days and long nights. Each evening we've been finding ourselves wondering if it's time for bed, only to realize that it's only 8:30. The cold and the darkness are catching up with us and making us want to stay in and sleep a bit more.
I've been thinking a lot lately about Minnesota winters (or cold climate winters in any part of the country/world). One of the things that I've really been mulling over is how our fast-paced lifestyles often demand just as much from us during the frigid winters as they do during the warmer months. However, the cold months also require much more from our bodies to keep functioning normally. As our bodies try to stay warm, whether it be outside or in a chilly house, we need to expel more energy. As we bundle up to head out the door, it takes longer and requires more effort. As we commute to work in snow, ice, and slush, we may find ourselves feeling frazzled, stressed, or late by the time we walk into the office. As we walk through the door in the evening hours, we have to turn on all of the lights just to see our way through the house. All of these things require more from us, yet our lives (generally speaking) don't seem to really slow down. I've been pondering these things and the pace of our own house, as this winter has begun to settle upon us, and I've been a bit more intentional about slowing things down. We've been eating warmer, heartier meals. We've been lighting candles throughout the house. We've been cuddling up in blankets with tea or tasty drinks. We've been reading more and doing a bit less. We've been keeping the house a bit tidier so that it's easier to just sink down into a comfy warm spot. And we've been going to bed early. All of these things, while they may be small, have helped me to begin to feel the coziness of winter. To begin to take things slower and let my body rest and hibernate a bit.
There is a word in Danish that perfectly describes this cozy winter feeling, hygge. While we don't have a direct translation in English, it seems to encompass everything from feeling warm and cozy, to being surrounded by happy, loving family and friends (read more about it here and here). It's like the feelings we feel during the Christmas season where everything is warm and magical and we are in love with the winter's chill. In the upper Midwest, I feel that we really understand this feeling through parts of the holiday season, especially when we're actually celebrating, but throughout the rest of the winter, we seem to lose sight of these cozy feelings.
Winter is long in Minnesota, and this year it seems to have gotten a nice early start. But, whether we like it or not, it's here to stay and stay for quite some time. So, we can either keep on with our busy, crazy lives, all the while begrudging winter, or we can choose to step back a bit, to let our bodies rest, hibernate, and get cozy. In our house, we want this winter to be a true hygge winter. So, tonight, I'm going to fill my house with flickering candles, cozy up with a good book and blanket, warm myself with a mug of something delicious, and enjoy the quiet and rest that winter can bring.