Every summer, my best friend’s mom hosts a small gathering of people on the evening of the summer solstice. Guests can expect homemade guacamole, juicy burgers and fruity sangria.
Conversations linger long into the evening, behind which, soft music plays as sophisticated unfamiliar voices like John Denver and James Taylor, which grow on me more and more each year. The sun continues to emit an orange and yellow glow, as it takes its time going down over the horizon. The warm summer evening is absorbed slowly, not to be rushed.
To conclude, we indulge in a dessert of warm biscuits, topped with lush summer strawberries and fluffy whipped cream. It’s a tradition I’m envious I didn’t think of, and one that I hope to replicate in my own way someday.
But lest we forget, there are two solstices each year. Of course, winter solstice is less popularized, because why would we celebrate the cold and dark, anyway? What regard does winter truly deserve?
While most of us look to retreat and hibernate in order to survive the doom and gloom of winter (at least in the tundra of Minnesota), I wonder how we add the same value to the solstice that marks the changing of the season. The winter solstice falls on Dec. 21 this year (today). It will be the shortest day of the year, the darkest. It marks the moment where each day going forward will be lighter, brighter, better. Bit by bit.
By now, almost everyone has heard the term “hygge,” but if you haven’t, it’s a Danish term defined as, “taking pleasure in the presence of gentle, soothing things.” Seems pretty straight forward, no? For example, the Danes might consider a freshly brewed cup of coffee or cashmere socks to be “hygge.” Danish doctors even recommend “tea and hygge,” as a cure for the common cold. They’re pretty serious about getting cozy.
When I reflect on what hygge means to me, I think of words like comfort, calm, kind, and warm. Is my house naturally any of those things with three small children and two somewhat large dogs? Absolutely not. Am I a natural steward of comfort, calm, kindness and warmth? Also no.
Creating space for hygge, both mentally and physically, takes effort - it has to be carefully curated.
Maybe it’s taking time to enjoy a ‘slow’ hobby (painting, puzzling, reading, baking) while a candle burns in the background. Maybe it’s saying no to separately scrolling screens, and instead watching a feel-good movie with good company, under a soft blanket. Maybe it’s inviting a few friends over for Glühwein and board games.
Maybe it’s a mental shift from being “stuck” inside and having cabin fever, to gratitude for this place of warmth and safety to rest. Maybe it’s motivating yourself to take a long walk through the snowy landscape and take in the beauty winter has to offer.
Winter solstice is the start to a slow trek back to spring. There is plenty of cold, dark and wet to endure until then, but if we can embrace this solstice as much as its summer sister, we’ll not only get through these wintery days, but actually relish them. Simply by finding the things most soothing and gentle in our lives and clinging to those while we cozy down.
Photos by Flo Dahm and Stella Rose on Unsplash
Leave a Reply.