Christmas, it's seriously right around the corner. The smell of cider and apple pie, the scent of advent candles and wreaths. Quality time with family. Comfort & warmth, everything silver & gold. Whichever way you celebrate Christmas, this holiday is marked by many with a slowed-down, switched-off lifestyle. Hopefully, your work emails go unread, your social feeds take a break, you lay off the Instagram-a-thon and FB posts. It’s time to disconnect, slow down and hopefully recharge.
The Danish have a word ‘hygge’ that's pretty awesome to reflect on in this state of being. Pronounced hue-guh, this slight verbal entity carries a lot of weight. Hygge captures this feeling of coziness, contentment and a comfortable vibe of well-being that comes with the simple things in life, like love, laughter and a glass of wine. The Dutch also have a word - gezellig - that captures similar sentiments in the Netherlands. It translates to quality and comfort.
Denmark Christmas Traditions
I've never spent Christmas in Denmark and I was recently told that it was a must-see, so I looked into how the Danes do it. Here are some items and traditions that I found. I think I can get into the Danish spirit from afar with a little Christmas hygge of my own.
The Advent Wreath - the advent wreath symbolizes the holidays in Denmark. Four candles sit atop the wreath, marking four Sundays until December 24th. Made with sprigs, berries, cones, and ribbons, the wreath is a wonderful holiday tradition.
The Advent Candle - here’s another Danish tradition to mark down the days until Christmas. The candle has 24 markings on it, signifying the length of the candle to burn one day at a time. Every night at supper, families light the candle for the one day marked. Children often blow out the candle before it reaches the next date.
Christmas decorations - The Danish national colors of red and white highlight the home decorations in festive ways. The Danish Christmas tree stands above all, majestic in its history and with items like tinsel, garland, paper hearts and twinkling lights adorning it.
Strong drinks - For the unprepared, the mulled Christmas wine or the strong Danish beers might be the right addition to a Danish Christmas. Warm liquor on a cold winter night in Denmark will certainly be needed!
Hygge as Lifestyle
An article in The New Yorker notes that hygge is synonymous with winter in Denmark, and with it is the necessities of candles, wooly slippers, soft blankets, a hot fire, and contented feelings. I think Hygge can also be in the Summertime, basking under the sun with your feet in the river off a dock with a glass of wine. Hygge has transcended mere feelings of Christmas comfort to become a lifestyle term and the Danes know how to do it well!
I won't be back in Scandinavia until 2018 but I have my holiday wreath of eucalyptus, pine, and pampas grass from House of Lilac up on my door and am planning some cozy candlelit dinner parties with friends before the year is over. Gearing up for 2018!