Winter Hygge Traditions

by Mackenzie Reed

APORTA Shop stories writer

You know that feeling when Daylight Savings Time comes around again and suddenly it’s dark at 4pm and everything feels a little dingy? Now multiple that by ten and say hello to a Scandinavian winter. Scandinavian folks have adapted a plethora of traditions throughout the years that keep their spirits bright and merry for the holiday season during the cold winter months and they call it Hygge.

In Norway, Christmas lights begin to pop up on streets and homes in late November, creating a sense of warmth and light that rivals the Arctic darkness. While people would normally be bopping in and out of Christmas parties leading up to the big day, this year’s holidays will look a little different! There will still be lights though, and what better way to get in the holiday spirit than a walk outside in the snow with your family, perhaps enjoying a glass of glogg (a traditional mulled wine) in between houses. So, grab a blanket, throw on a hat, and get yourself a mug of something warm and cheery and go enjoy those twinkly lights!

In Sweden, the Christmas dinner table is prepared with a smorgasbord of offerings, both familiar and brand new. They’ve got their ham and their sausage, but they also have a few dishes you’re probably unfamiliar with. Lutfisk is a dish of cod that has been cured in lye, and gubbrora, meaning “old man’s mix,” is an anchovy and egg salad dish, garnished with fresh dill. While these fishy delicacies may not be at the top of your Christmas menu, taking the idea of a wide array of food and offerings could be a new holiday tradition for you and your family. Try out a new cheese board design, make your own pickled vegetables! Just because we can’t travel this year, doesn’t mean we can’t explore new cuisines.

In Denmark, the holiday season begins with the lighting of the Advent candles. These four candles are placed in a wreath and one is lit every week leading up to Christmas. Despite seeming religious in nature, the act of lighting the Advent candles can be a non-secular tradition as well. Think of starting each week with a new intention as you get ready for the holiday season and the new year. You can also take this tradition and make it more of a daily ritual for you and your family, light a candle every day to be intentional with your life and your daily routine.

As we get in to the holiday season this year, a year that has looked so different from any year before, we are given the opportunity to create new traditions and think outside the box to find new ways to celebrate our connections with those we love. This year, I will be incorporating lots of outside time into my holiday celebrations, inspired by the Scandinavian people and their resilience during the long, dark months of winter. 

Scandinavian Christmas shortbread.
Photo credit Becky Fantham.

Namur, Belgium. Photo credit Lucian Alexe.