Happiness in the Polar Circle
There are times when you want to cuddle up in a safe, protective cocoon away from the blasts of winter and the onslaught of COVID. You need to pamper yourself with comfort food, cozy blankets, and soft light.
Those living in the Artic area, where the winters are long, dark and cold, have a word for the solace they seek during such times: Hygge (pronounced: hyoo-guh). It’s not a form of Nordic yoga, though it could be.
The Circle Widens
Hygge has caught on outside the Artic Circle and for good reason. Researchers suggest the Nordic custom boosts serotonin and minimizes stress. But the activity has turned a bit artsy and commercial as it’s travelled around the world.
The Broadway musical, Frozen, opened with a song that went—“Hygge means comfortable, hygge means cozy, hygge means sitting by the fire with your cheeks all rosy.”
There’s also a board game and scented candles available to hygge fans. Several years ago, The Little Book of Hygge made it onto the NYT bestselling list. On line you can find sheepskin rugs, fluffy pillows, soft blankets, and other home goods to enhance your experience.
Hygge Food for Solace
So which comfort foods do those living in the Artic Circle rely upon during their snuggle sessions? Some of my family has visited Lapland during the winter months and said there’s a lot of meat, fish, and potatoes on the tables.
Like their Viking forefathers, the people eat reindeer, moose, bear, smoked sausage, as well as salmon and herring from the nearby sea. Bilberry, a local fruit that’s smaller and darker than blueberries, winds up in tarts, cakes, and crepes.
Warmth Comes from Within
You don’t have to stay indoors for the beneficial effects. Nordic dwellers walk the streets where candles brighten windows, bonfires glow, and people wrapped in blankets, eat and chat.
As one local put it: “In the depth of winter, there’s still a feeling of warmth.”