I’m most certainly not an expert on the latest social trends, but I have been reading a lot of articles recently on the concept of “hygge.” The best definition I could find on what “hygge” actually means is: “a Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” With that definition, then, one could reasonably suggest that some of us have been doing that in our homes for a pretty long time. So what does “hygge” actually look like? And why should we consider incorporating some of the “hygge” ideas into our lives this holiday season?
One of the first things that seems to be consistent with all of the different articles that try to explain “hygge” is the idea of keeping life and our homes “simple.” I suppose that word can mean lots of different things to lots of different people, but the underlying notion appears to be three-fold:
1. Simplify your life and your home by eliminating unnecessary “stuff.”
2. Slow down and enjoy each moment as a treasure
3. Seek opportunities to create an environment that is “cozy” and nurturing
It is interesting to me as a Vintage Mama to see this “new” idea becoming a social trend since that is the way I learned how to live a long time ago. Of course, with all of the activity and accumulations that come with having a family, it is always a challenge to slow down and keep things simple, peaceful, and “cozy” in a home filled with individuals doing all kinds of individual things. Like going to work, going to school (or home schooling for many families), running a business, doing home work, cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking and baking, and any number of activities both inside and outside of the home.
Many years ago I read a book called, “The Hidden Art of Homemaking,” by Edith Schaeffer that encouraged women to find joy and contentment in the daily routine of being a home maker. Of course, that was back in the day when those who were “just” wives and mothers were considered incapable of seeking “real” and “meaningful” employment outside of the home. So it was quite an encouragement to me as a young wife and mom to read the words of this book, reminding me that creating a home for my family where there was a sense of nurturing, “coziness,” and peace was a pretty important job.
The part that intrigued me in the beginning, when I first discovered this book was the idea of discovering opportunities for artistic expression that can be found in ordinary, everyday life. Seeking creative expression in the moment-by-moment tasks of daily life seemed like an impossibility to me, as I was feeling rather overwhelmed with caring for small children and a large home. Family life can keep one quite busy, so I was hoping that there was a possibility that somewhere in the middle of all the activity of a growing family that I could still find ways to express the creativity that God had put into my heart.
I haven’t figure out why there seems to be a rather sudden renewed interest in making our homes places of comfort and “coziness” instead of places for brief and intermittent pit-stops between one breath-taking adventure after another . . . which is how it often felt when my older children were teenagers . . . but I’m really happy to see that some people are once again seeking home as a place of safety, security, and peace. It has been interesting, too, as I have been reading various articles, blogs, and websites on the topic of “hygge” to come across the different perspectives on this. It would, at first glance, seem rather straightforward and well, “simple.” But it appears that even the whole idea of “simplifying” life can become rather complicated.
What’s this business of “hygge”? Have you figured it out? Stop by Vintage Mama’s Cottage and tell me what’s going on!
One blogger suggested that it seems rather counter-intuitive to invest lots of money, buying lots of things (including beautiful coffee table books on “How to Practice the Art of Hygge”), and filling our homes with more “stuff” that somehow represents “hygge” or simplicity. I guess she has a point. It really is possible to create a home that is cozy and nurturing without buying all those beautiful farm house wall hangings with sayings like “Simplify” or “Let’s Stay Home” or “Improving my inner hygge.” I know because I used to do it with pretty much nothing except what was already in my very modest home.
On the other hand, if one is able to invest in a few pretty, simple objects such as candles, pillows, wall hangings, and cozy throw blankets, that would be fun, too. So in the end, I’m suggesting that we all can create “hygge” any way that works for our individual homes and families. Here are few suggestions for discovering hygge for the holidays that I’ve practiced probably long before most of the popular bloggers these days were even born . . . but then, that’s a blog post for another day!
- STOP! Stop feeling obligated to create the perfect home (even the perfect “hygge” home) and look around at what you already have.
- TAKE INVENTORY: get rid of all the extra stuff that is keeping you from being peaceful in your own home.
- REFASHION: “Shop” your own belongings and recreate / refashion some of the items already in your home
- ORGANIZE: Once you have minimized the amount of stuff you already have, clean and rearrange things. You really will feel much better!
- PREPARE your heart and your home to celebrate every holiday in simple, meaningful ways.
- PLAN: If you decorate for the holidays, don’t run yourself ragged with trying to outdo your friends and neighbors. A simple wreath on the front door, perhaps a Christmas tree with a few ornaments that hold sentimental value, a manger scene on the mantle, and a few candles on the dining room table – then take a deep breath and enjoy the holidays
- START: If you like to do holiday baking, go ahead and make a few batches of Christmas cookies or candy. But have fun! Life isn’t a contest, it’s about celebrating the little things every day.
- RELAX: Once you get rid of all the extra stuff in your home, maybe add a few new touches to help create an atmosphere of coziness, and plan to keep everything else SIMPLE, you’ll actually be able to slow down long enough to enjoy the holidays.
- REACH OUT: Once you simplify your own home and holiday activities, you will actually have time to connect with other people in your life. Go out for coffee with a friend, and take a walk on a sunny autumn / winter day.
- FINALLY: As you sit quietly by a cozy fire with a steaming cup of tea of hot cocoa, wearing your fuzzy “hygge” socks and your cable-knit “hygge” sweater, remember . . . life is what you make it.
You don’t need to give a name to whatever you choose to do that makes your life peaceful, pleasant, cozy, and nurturing. If you want to call it “hygge” go ahead as long as you remember what it actually means. Simplify, slow down, and live with the intention of experiencing your days instead of just flying through them and then wondering where all the years went. Practice true “hygge” and discover “hygge” for the holidays by first making a decision to stop following the latest expression of a very old idea and discover the “hidden art of homemaking.”
What do you think of “hygge”? Is it too much time, effort, and energy to practice “hygge” the way we see on Pinterest and all of the coffee table books on the art of “hygge”? Maybe you have had your own experience of finding ways to focus on that which is meaningful during the holidays and avoid some of the crazy, over-the-top activities that have become part of our holiday traditions. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with “hygge” in your own family. Here’s wishing you a joyous Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Just in case you want to purchase a book about the hidden art of homemaking or “hygge,” here are a couple of ideas!