Recently, I read several articles about northern European Countries and how they survive winter. The Danish tradition of “Hygge” and Norwegian “Koselig” point to vastly different attitudes about winter. Scandinavians look forward to the unique activities and beauty of winter, and also the opportunities to get cosy and enjoy family and friends. Alaskans should be masters of mastering winter, but sadly it seems we are not. As we struggle with seasonal affective disorder, higher rates of suicide and domestic violence, and a general bad attitude about cold, snow, and darkness, it seems we could learn a lot from our northern neighbors across the pond.
What is the secret? For the Scandinavians, winter is not a dreaded season to be endured, but an anticipated treat, with cozy traditions. They look forward to the chance to ski and skate, observe the beauty of winter light on frozen landscapes, and the pleasure of a slower pace to life. There is an emphasis not only on outdoor activities, but also on indoor pleasures such as congenial company, good food, and warming spirits. As I researched, I also noticed that the articles all featured pictures of crackling fires, steaming mugs, and handknit socks. There is much wisdom in this attitude, and I’m looking forward to indulging in plenty of hygge and koselig in the coming months.
How can we foster a more joyful attitude towards winter, especially in our children? With shorter days and the demands of school, it becomes harder to make sure that kids are getting the outdoor exercise and play they need. It is all too easy to become sluggish and inactive in mind and body. Here are some practical ideas to help:
And with that, I’m off to light a fire, put on the kettle, and get started knitting some fuzzy socks.
Photo, Students at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park’s Camp Chosen Frozen head out on snowshoes.
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.