The Art of Hygge – Or Something Like It

It’s early December and not even technically winter yet but House Crazy Sarah is already whimpering the winter blues. As she was doing her yearly contemplation of a move to southern Arizona, an article in The New Yorker caught her eye.

The writer was extolling the virtues of a Danish concept called “hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga). What is this magical concept of cozy pleasures? There is no direct translation in the English language but in Scandinavia, the word refers to finding a sense of peace and warmth in your home atmosphere when the winter is so long and dreadful and dark.

House Crazy Sarah looked hygge up on the interwebs, and on the Visit Denmark website, there is apparently nothing more hygge than sitting around by the warmth of a fire and enjoying the serenity of a hot cup of tea on one of those endless winter nights.

Being from a land in close proximity to the north pole, House Crazy Sarah understands how oppressive a long, cold winter can be. When she thinks of winter in Canada – which is three quarters of the year, the other quarter being blackfly season – she has an image of her Dad coming in late at night with snot frozen to his beard and mustache, bundled in his old Army green Arctic parka and snow pants, cursing baby Jesus and mother Mary about how long it took him to clear the Goddamn driveway with his old tractor and homemade snowblower and he would just have to turn around the next day and do it all over again. Because it. never. stopped. snowing.  House Crazy Sarah remembers thinking why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily live in such a frigid place?

House Crazy Sarah in winter
House Crazy Sarah pretending to be happy on a frozen lake in Canada in her younger years

Growing up in winter er, Canada, meant your breath changed to steam and your nostrils froze together the moment you walked out the door. But you couldn’t really walk out the door; you had to shovel a snow tunnel just to escape the house. Through five feet of snow! Driving on the ice-packed highway into town was putting your life into the hands of fickle fate. You just prayed and double gripped the steering wheel hoping this time wasn’t your turn to end up in the snowbank. (House Crazy Sarah only banked it twice in her life, thankfully with no damage.) In Winterland, It was dark from 3:00pm to 9:00am. So when House Crazy Sarah read about hygge, it was a revelation!

Winter can be COZY?

Winter sucks. But being rooted in the northern hemisphere, now in Colorado no less, there’s no getting away from it for House Crazy Sarah. So perhaps there are some small pieces of the dark season she can find that are hygge, and that might help her make it through until spring.

Scented candles! She likes scented candles burning around the house. The warmth from the oven when she bakes something from the freezer. The fluffy “butter” socks she found at the drugstore that are sooo freaking comfortable there must be something illegal in them. Lamps illuminating the living room that are too hot to turn on in the summer. Hot chocolate with whipped cream…mmmmm. Yes, House Crazy Sarah could get into this hygge thing.

But the more House Crazy Sarah tries to get into the whole hygge philosophy/lifestyle, the more she sees that it has turned into this trendy thing. And she HATES trendy things. Hygge is on HGTV and every blog known to womankind; book publishers and glossy house mags are having a heyday with it; there are now lines of fashion and furniture based on hygge. Have you seen the memes on social media?

Ugh. House Crazy Sarah is hygge’d out just thinking about it.

The northerners can have their darn Hygge. House Crazy Sarah is just going to hibernate and embrace her inner desert rat.

Summer hurry up already!

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