The first snow of the winter is falling, the clocks fell back and the sun is around less and less. The season of seasonal affective disorder is on us. Canadian winters are long, cold and dark. It can be difficult to stay positive when the gloomy weather sets in for the better part of the next 6 months.
Many other places, such as the Scandinavian countries, have rough winters. Denmark is regularly near the top of the happiest places to live - ranked first in 2013 and 2014 before slipping to third in 2015. The Danes have a way to combat the dreariness and that is through hygge (pronounced hooga).
Now the rough translation of hygge is coziness, but there is so much more to it. Think about the feeling you get when you cuddle up in a warm blanket by the fireplace with a mug of mulled juice and a good book. Or when you get together with friends for a great meal where you can take your time to enjoy the food and each other's company. That's hygge.
It's about creating a social atmosphere and togetherness. Slow things downs for a bit. You can't rush hygge. Warm light from an abundance of candles or a fireplace sets the mood. Add in good food and good company. Let that feeling and the warmth soak in. That is what gets you through an extended winter with a smile on your face.
One example of hygge is the annual cookie baking day I host in November. Friends and family gather around my dining room table and to roll the cookie dough into little balls. The house is warm from all of the people and the ovens running all day. The scent of freshly baked cookies fills the air and lasts for days. Everyone is talking, laughing and enjoying our time together. At the end of the day, each person leaves with a tin of cookies to enjoy over the holidays. It's something that we all look forward to when the weather starts to turn colder. It's a wonderful hygge time.
This year when the winter blues start to set in, add some hygge to your life. Light some candles, grab your coziest sweater and a cup of cocoa and take the time to enjoy it.