It might be the shorter days and longer nights. It could also be the cooler temperatures or the plethora of sweaters, blankets, and coffee mugs that line the store shelves.
Whatever the culprit may be, winter tends to bring with it a desire to be warm and cozy, especially when at home.
Personally, being warm and cozy involves a plush blanket, a big mug of hot cocoa (I even have a secret stash of mini marshmallows to top said cocoa), a good book usually of the historical fiction variety, and a cat curled up at my feet.
The Danish, and other countries across Scandinavia, have perfected the art of coziness and retreating into one’s home with their practice of hygge (hoo-gah). According to the trusty Merriam-Webster dictionary in our reference collection, hygge is “a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable.”
During long, dark winters, Danish citizens are known for embracing this concept and its focus on wholesomeness, friendship, and happiness. Hygge is taking pleasure in the simple, comforting things in life like a fresh cup of coffee or tea and a pair of warm woolen socks. It is the art of creating a sanctuary in the middle of an otherwise busy, chaotic life and holiday season.
Doesn’t this sound like an amazingly beautiful art to learn, practice, and add to your wintertime routine? If you’d like to explore hygge more deeply, you’re in luck! Venture on down to the Montrose Regional Library where a quick catalog search or visit with a friendly librarian at the Reference Desk will provide you with a curated list of books (both physical and of the electronic type) pertaining to this cozy topic.
A few of my personal favorites worth considering are:
“Joy of Hygge,” by Jonny Jackson which provides tips on how to incorporate that hygge feeling into your home and life.
“Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World,” by Elizabeth Gillies shows that true hygge is found within.
Meik Wiking’s popular books, “The Little Book of Hygge,” “The Little Book of Lykke,” and “My Hygge Home,” inform one all about the popular concept and how to develop it in your own life and home.
As we inch closer to the holiday season, another Scandinavian tradition that I am tempted to incorporate into my own holiday rituals is the Icelandic celebration called Jolabokaflod which essentially translates to mean “Christmas Book Flood” though it doesn’t have to be tied to the Christmas holiday.
In Iceland, people celebrate by gifting loved ones with many books which are unwrapped and exclaimed over before everyone retreats under warm blankets in front of a roaring fire, armed with a warm beverage of choice, and reads the night away.
Jolabokflod has its origins during World War II when paper was one of the commodities not being rationed to help the war effort. Because of this, Icelanders gifted one another books during the holidays, thus turning the country into a bunch of bookaholics – a practice, as a librarian and booklover, I wholeheartedly support!
Head to your friendly Montrose Regional Library and max out your borrowing limit on a huge stack of books for everyone on your list – all ages and interests. Perhaps one of Jan Brett’s cozy, magical, and beautifully illustrated picture books for the little ones in your life and a Kristin Hannah historical fiction for yourself (well, if you’re me, that is).
Truly, there is something for everyone at the library! Once a good book has been selected, everyone can retreat to their favorite cozy place and spend the day engrossed in a book or two–traveling to faraway places and becoming best friends with a book character. This sounds like the perfect way to spend a winter’s day to me!
No matter how you celebrate this holiday season, I hope that you’ll stop and take a few moments to enjoy the simple pleasures and comfort that this time of year brings. Surround yourself with the people and things that bring you comfort and joy … and a few good books!
Laura McLean is an Adult Services librarian at the Montrose Regional Library. She is currently reading “The Maid,” by Nita Prose.