As December rolls around the lights go up, the candles come out, and the houses are filled with the smell of cinnamon as baking rises in the oven. We’re nailing the art of indulgence when we bring out the Christmas jumpers and kick up our slipper-clad feet to watch yet another festive film with a glass of mulled wine. So why does it have top stop after December 30th?
At this time of the year, when the nights are long, the days are cold, and us Brits are gloomy from the lack of sunlight, there’s nothing better for us than to embrace the Danish spirit of hygge – which means comfort and cosiness. As far as hygge (pronounced hue-gah) goes, we have it spot on at Christmastime. Every established tradition; from being with family, baking sweet treats, or decorating our homes, helps to cultivate that cosy, contented feeling of hygge. It’s not surprising that before Christmas was a celebrated occasion, there have been Winter festivals at various times and in various cultures across the world; from Saturnalia to Yuletide. As humans, we instinctively know how to ward off the gloom of the wet and cold by bringing light and laughter into our lives.
Yet, after the 31st of December, spontaneously the country cuts out the cookies, throws away the tree, and buys gym gear. Out with the fairy lights, in with the fad diets. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to turn over a new leaf and start afresh in the New Year, but the fact remains that January is statistically colder on average than December. So why is it that just when we need comfort and cheer the most, we discard the festive whimsy and punish ourselves with gruelling workouts.
Hygge isn’t just for Christmas. I believe if we didn’t push ourselves to drop all our creature comforts while we’re still getting up earlier than the sun, there’d be a greater chance that we would persevere with our resolutions. Come February, the gyms have usually resumed their normal flow of people, and the new workout gear is languishing at the bottom of our wardrobes.
So how can we preserve the spirit of Christmas and the feeling of hygge into the New Year?
1. Don’t ditch the lights – When you take your tree and other miscellaneous decorations down (traditionally on the 6th), spare those lovely, twinkling lights. There’s something so relaxing about using softer light, plus you’ll have something to rival those Pintrest pictures.
2. Cut down, don’t cut out – We all need a little comfort food (or drink) in this cold weather, so don’t let the January guilt stop you from enjoying yourself. There’s plenty of recipes that allow you to cook your favourite meals and desserts in a more healthy way, which means you can meet your January goals without compromising on taste.
3. Indulge in health – If it’s your New Year goal to be more health focused, don’t push yourself too far with diets and cardio; listen to what your body needs. Exercise generates feel good chemicals in your brain after all, and can help to lighten the January blues, but do it for health and not from self-hate.
So as Christmas approaches, wrap up warm, drink a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire, and think about how you can make the hygge feeling last until the sun comes back.