If this winter had a buzzword, it would be “hygge.” I’d never heard of hygge until this fall, but since then, I keep bumping into the term: on my newsfeed, in news articles, and all over Pinterest. A Danish word, “hygge” is most often translated to English as “coziness,” but really, it means something closer to “existing in a state of coziness.” Hygge can exist in any season, but it’s particularly relevant during the dark winter days and nights. (You can learn more about hygge in this sweet video from Visit Denmark.)
You know that feeling of trying to express something for years and then discovering there was a word out there that summed what you were trying to say in two measly syllables? That’s how I felt when I discovered the term “hygge.” I think Minnesotans have been doing hygge for decades without even realizing it. When you consider that it’s perfectly normal for the Gunflint Trail to be snow-covered for 5+ months each year, you kind of have to revel in the winter season. Winter’s simply too long around these parts to spend your days muddling through it and pining for warmer days.
So we do our best to embrace winter and live the season intentional. Instead of counting down the days until spring, we hygge.
One of the best ways we’ve found to make winter fun and cozy is to get out in the elements and explore. When some family and friends called up last Sunday to ask if we wanted to go for a hike, we knew it was a great time to spend time together and simultaneously check out lake conditions. We set off across Round, headed into Missing Link, and over to the Tuscarora portage. There was a good packed trail for the most part, although the start of the Tuscarora portage was soft enough that snowshoes would have been a nice thing to have for a short stretch of the trail. All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon filled with good company, loads of fresh air, and nearly six miles of trekking. Nothing like pure exhaustion to make home seem especially cozy as you settle in for the evening.
If you’ve been following our Facebook page this winter, you know another favorite way to get some fresh air is to head out with the ice fishing gear. We’ve been using this winter to explore a lot of area lakes we’ve never fished before and have been coming home with a lake trout or two to bake up for a tasty “just caught” supper.
Speaking of suppers . . . when we’re at our busiest in the summer paddle season, it’s not unheard of for supper to be a camp food entree pulled from the food room shelf mixed with unmeasured amount of boiling water. So when things slow down in the winter, we take a cue from Dinner: A Love Story and do some “project cooking.” Whether it’s Julia Child’s 13-hour croissant recipe, Cubanos inspired by the movie Chef, or spending days (no, really) making sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing more hygge than having a delicious smelling kitchen.
One of my most favorite things to do each winter is to pick up a book series I haven’t read in years. It’s so cozy (or should I say, hygge?) to spend the evenings reacquainting myself with familiar characters and re-learning important plot points. This year’s pick? The Harry Potter books. Although I was a mere tween when the first book was published, the final book didn’t come out until after I’d graduated from college. It’s been especially fun to re-read this series because as a teenager, I reread the first four books countless times, but I’ve only read the final three books once, right when they were each published. It’s been a joy to read the books back to back instead of in the fits and starts of two year intervals.
How do you hygge?
I’m enjoying your writing.