Hygge in the Summertime

Hygge in the Summertime

For a cozy introvert like me who loves nothing more than wrapping myself in the sweet warmth of autumn's lush invitation to snuggle close with all the comforting, soul-nurturing things, I usually find summer a bit jarring to the senses. 

It's bright and hot. I'm sensitive to the heat and have struggled at times to press into joy during the sweltering days of July and August, especially here in the South. But as I work on the interior of things, such as gratitude and peace in the steam and sweat, I'm finding ways to include the spirit of hygge in my life and home.
The art of Hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah") is the intentional cultivation of holistic warmth and comfort for body and soul during the darkest time of the year. A journalist from the UK writes, “...hygge is so hallowed in Denmark that it’s also considered a cure for the common cold or flu, with doctors regularly prescribing “tea and hygge” in lieu of Lemsip (hardy Vikings don’t do over-the-counter medicines). Danes will even hygge on the move: I once passed a camper van on the motorway with lighted candles in the windows (this is probably illegal, but Danes aren’t too hung up on health and safety: see “hardy Vikings”).”—Helen Russell

A Danish woman comments: “Hygge is a deep sense of cosy that can originate from many different sources. Here is a good example from my life—a cloudy winter Sunday morning at the country house, fire in the stove and 20 candles lit to dispel the gloom. My husband, puppy and I curled up on our sheepskins wearing felt slippers, warm snuggly clothes and hands clasped around hot mugs of tea. A full day ahead with long walks on the cold beach, back for pancake lunch, reading, more snuggling, etc. This is a very hyggligt day. In the US, one might grab a cup of coffee to go, or sit in a cafe looking at a laptop. Hygge is a bit more ritualized. Here in DK, a cup of coffee is more likely to take a lot more time, involve conversation and a couch.”—Natasha Husted

Traditional hygge

There are few pleasures in life that compare to snuggling with loved ones by the fireside, fingers wrapped around a mug of rich Masala chai, toes tucked into something soft and warm. This is hygge, but hygge itself is virtually impossible to define. It includes a sense of togetherness, of sacred, of finding beauty, of creating home, of connection—or, to me, a nourishing of the soul during a season of immense cold and dark. Before knowing hygge was a “thing” I found great solace in creating it my own way—softening the lights, layering my home with soft blankets, thoughtfully placing candles, sliding a squash into the oven to roast and surround us with mouthwatering, sweet warmth. Or through journaling, writing love letters or snuggling with coffee and conversation with a dear friend. It's such a warm, full-bodied embrace of what is; being the one to slip comfort into uncomfortable. It is living beauty which fills the senses and sustains the heart. It is a deep sigh saying, “It is well with my soul.”

Bringing hygge into summertime

While nothing will replace the loveliness of traditional hygge, as the artist and maker of my home, I get to be creative with how I cultivate the same sort of ambiance despite the summer heat. This includes simple little touches and rituals that invite a pause for some spaciousness and rest, a beckoning to slow down, a call to presence. How counter-cultural this is to my initial instincts! I want to run away, to complain, to resist the brightness and heat. But to be honest, there is a kind of surrender that comes with this and hopefully, a little spiritual growth too. Because pressing into discomfort while learning to be thankful, gracious and patient is a growth-making opportunity. 

At the same time, I get to dwell in the grace of things. That's what hygge in the summertime is for me: dwelling in grace and finding ways to create it for others.

6 Ways to Experience Hygge in the Summer

6 ways to experience hygge in the summer

1.  Softness

While your favorite snuggly blankets are tucked away until October, you can embrace the spirit of hygge in the summer by choosing to surround your body, soul, and home with softness. Choose light fabrics that float around your skin. Wear dresses that don't cling, but swish and gently kiss the tops of your toes. Choose sheets that are creamy smooth and breathe, rather than trapping body heat and causing sweat. Darkened interiors will provide relief from the sun; if you can, invest in insulated curtains for any western-facing windows. Arrange candles to softly illuminate the room and remind you of winter fires without the heat. Include candlelight at the dinner table and when you read books or watch a movie with your babies. Instead of blankets, snuggle with pillows encased in smooth cotton that feels cool to the touch.  

2. Spa water

A few moments spent making your own spa water will instantly put the "ahhh" in spa and refresh your body and spirit. In the evening, add to a half-gallon glass jar or lovely glass bottle any or all of the following: sliced fresh cucumber, mint, halved grapes, orange, lemon, watermelon, or cantaloupe; fresh or frozen chunks of pineapple, mango, strawberries, peaches, or blueberries. Fill your jar with distilled water. Cover with a lid and chill in the refrigerator overnight. Enjoy long, luscious sips the following day. Repeat. 

For a different option, make a cucumber granita. Add a peeled and roughly chopped cucumber to your blender along with the juice of a whole lemon, some fresh mint leaves if you have them, and honey to taste. Add ice and blend until you reach a consistency you like. This not-too-sweet drink will cool you immediately.

3. Togetherness

One element of hygge is a sense of intimacy. Traditionally this looks like quiet conversations around a fire with a warm mug of coffee, or enjoying a fresh almond croissant in a cozy little bakery with a friend. To adapt for summer, think of how to make memories and share love through connection. Gather your loved ones around a campfire late at night and make s'mores. Carry extra bottles of water when you leave the house so you can hand them out when you meet a street-weary soul in need of some relief. Join a friend at a shopping center for some brisk, air-conditioned mall-walking, then have a nourishing lunch after. 

4. Lean into the edges of the day.

Dawn and twilight are transitional moments that evoke hush before daybreak and full night. Use dawn, usually the coolest time, to gently rise and begin your morning with peace. Light a candle. Brew your coffee or herbal tea. Fill a wooden bowl with succulent berries for nourishment. Whisper your prayers. Read scripture. Journal in the soft light. Discover the enchantment of being awake before the sun rises, and allow this experience to set the tone for the day. And then, when twilight falls, return to the hush. Light candles. Play music that calms. Enjoy a cooling bath. Keep your favorite body or face cream in the fridge, and use the chilled lotion to massage your feet or skin.

5. Use peppermint spirits and peppermint essential oil.

Peppermint has an instant cooling effect on the body, which feels like a miracle in the summer heat. You can add peppermint essential oil to your diffuser for cooling aromatherapy, alone or blended with a little lavender. But never use the essential oil undiluted on your skin. Instead, mix a few drops of the pure essential oil with a carrier like sweet almond oil or jojoba. Add this blend to bathwater or to a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Shake well and mist over your skin. Or soak a soft cloth in a mix of cool water and the peppermint oil blend, and wrap it around your neck. If you prefer not to use the oil, you could make a peppermint hydrosol from the fresh herb and store it in the refrigerator for a cooling body mist. Finally, HerbPharm makes a peppermint spirit that is a tincture you can blend into water, juice, lemonade or iced tea for a cooling, refreshing mint elixir. It is very strong, so one to two drops per glass is more than enough.

6. Create simple, nourishing meals that cool and energize the body.

This may seem fairly obvious, as folks generally save the cozier dishes for the cooler seasons. But you can bring hygge into summertime meals by being intentional with beauty. If you normally enjoy a refreshing smoothie for breakfast, elevate the experience by crafting a luscious smoothie bowl with artfully arranged fruit, nuts, coconut or seeds. If you make a daily salad, create an enticing new menu featuring exotic recipes you'd like to try. (I love being inspired by the salads and other gorgeous meals at Feasting at Home.) 

Lay out nurturing boards or plates of food that some call Wood Board Love.

Make new summer memories by bringing the picnic indoors when it's simply too scorching and unsafe to go outside. Lay a quilt or linen sheet on your living room floor, gather pillows to sit on, fill your home with mason jars of wildflowers, and prepare a feast of fresh fruits and veggies, cucumber cream cheese sandwiches, cheese and crackers, lemonade, or anything else that reminds you of joyous picnic days. 

While traditional hygge rises from a need to endure bleak, impossibly cold and dark winters, this is the spirit I long to nurture all year through living beauty—being present to beauty, living it daily, following & offering it to all whose paths intersect with mine.

I long to be a sacred space that counteracts the bleak & desolate winter of all empty eyes & hungry hearts. I long to live beauty—to be a walking, breathing, embracing channel for a kind of beauty that is alive, encompassing, poured out, reached out, touching and unafraid. It is beauty that sees with eyes laden with eternity. It is beauty that gazes directly into the dark to find God quietly working in the indigo hours.

It is constant, unglamorous, frizzy-haired, red-cheeked, tear-stained, always-beginning-again work. 

Yet, it is holy work. It is a sacred willingness to dwell within disenchanting spaces and awaken ourselves to a living, transcendent beauty that can be found in the barren and the bleak, if we are brave enough to see with eyes of faith. We can make it through a long, dark night. We can survive the wintering—or summering—of a soul. It may not be glamorous. It may not be conventional or understood. We may not have the resources we desire or the energy we long for. But we can hold out our arms. We can choose not to look away. We can all be soft, sacred places for someone to come home to.

For my fellow cozy-loving babes...did any of the suggestions above inspire you? Which will you try? What other ways do you bring hygge into the summertime? 

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