North Idaho Living Winter

Surviving & Thriving North Idaho Winters

Are you anything like me? I love winter…until after Christmas. Then it’s just cold. I love the first few snowfalls…until the ground either becomes a hard, thick ice crust or a soupy, sloggy mess. And it’s just COLD. The sky is gray. Darkness arrives at 4pm. North Idaho generally receives its annual healthy dosage of snow, but the quantity depends mostly on elevation and proximity to the mountains. Often, winter lasts through March and many times we have snowfall through April, and every so often in May!

I love to take a warm vacation every January or February to replenish my vitamin D, but that is not always a possibility. So how does one handle the long winters? Let’s take a note or two from our Danish friends and their practice of “hygge.”

Wait. What is this bizarre vocabulary?

Pronounced “Hooga,” this word is not only fun to say, but it packs a heap of meaning that I found helpful in coping with the long doldrums of winter.

Hygge is a Danish word that basically represents all things cozy. It’s something you do, wear, eat, play, enjoy, and take delight in to make the long winters bearable, but more importantly, it encompasses a mindset—the mindset to be happy in our dark and dreary seasons; the mindset to find deep pleasure in the little things in our surroundings, and the people who surround us.

Hygge is accepting and embracing the slowing of pace that the cold, dormant season brings. It is allowing ourselves to find peace in our homes and fulfillment in our intimate relationships instead of continually go-go-going endlessly from one activity to another.

Practically, what does this look like? It may look differently from one person or family to the next but I’ll paint some pictures for you:

  • Curl up under a cozy blanket with that novel you’ve always wanted to read, and your favorite hot drink in hand. Make sure to look up out the window just to remind yourself how dreary it is outside, but how comfortably toasty you are inside.
  • Snuggle up by the fire or heater with your favorite person or pet, while attempting a crossword puzzle, word search, sudoku, or other mindful game.
  • Take extra time to play card or board games, or put a puzzle together with the kids (make sure to include hot cocoa and marshmallows).
  • Light candles instead of keeping bulbs on.
  • Wear fuzzy slippers around the house.
  • Cook comfort food and enjoy it with family, neighbors, or friends.
  • Bake bread.
  • Take baths.
  • Hold your loved ones.
  • My personal favorite: Throw that fuzzy bathrobe on. Afterall, it’s a blanket with arms. Still get dressed for the day, but wear it over your clothes. Seriously, my bathrobe (along with a cup of coffee) makes every home task more endurable. Ask my husband—he’ll agree: I’m in a constant state of hygge at home. Heck, I’m wearing one of my favorite robes while writing this post!
  • Turn off the TV, put away the phone and the gadgets and just sit and talk to your loved ones. Even more valuable: LISTEN to them. Nothing to talk about? Read a book aloud together and talk about that. Have children? They ask the best questions.

This is such a limited list, but I’m sure you get the idea. Danes are known to be one of the happiest groups of people in the world, so I’m sure we could all benefit from their lifestyle of hygge. And who couldn’t use more cozy happiness in their lives?