The Southampton Holiday Parade was more dazzling than ever this year, with its dancing angels and glittering fire trucks. But even Santa might secretly wish sometimes for a bit of quiet at the holidays. Most living things naturally slow down during the winter, re-charging in advance of spring’s rebirth. Only humans ramp up the activity – and the stress – while the natural world sensibly withdraws and replenishes. What if we made the holidays – and the winter season – a gentler one, with plenty of room for rest, reflection and comfort?
As an antidote to their long dark winters, Danish culture embraces a lifestyle that centers upon homebound seasonal pleasures, gathering friends and family around for evenings of reading, board games, and other subtle forms of unhurried, non-commercial enjoyment. Images of their “Hygge” lifestyle have crept into vogue, promoting fuzzy socks, cozy blankets, and hot Nordic beverages sipped by firelight. But the Hygge mindset goes deeper than evergreen-scented candles and shearling slippers. It’s a philosophy that allows for truly slowing down, enjoying each other’s company, and savoring winter’s quiet graces.
One Hygge tradition stands out for me: Jolabokaflod, the practice of exchanging just one book on Christmas Eve, and spending the evening reading them and drinking hot cocoa. Can you imagine curling up together with one of these books about the East End?
- Blue Dream and the Legacy of Modernism in the Hamptons by Paul Goldberger
- The Hamptons Kitchen by Hillary Davis and Stacey Dermont
- Walk with Me: Hamptons by Susan Kaufman
- Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
- The End: Montauk by Michael Dweck
On your holidays, whatever they may be, consider giving yourself and the people you love a chance to embrace the winter a bit differently… maybe with a good book, some hot chocolate and the pleasure of your company.
Happy Hygge Holidays, everyone!