Christmas Hygge Through Christmas Hiraeth

Wales crashed out of the World Cup last night. I’m really sorry for that, and even sorrier that it had to be England that crashed them out. Thanks to a Great Grandmother, I am one eighth Welsh, and immensely proud of a small little nation that has such a sense of self-worth and history that it can stand against the bigger nations of the world and go ‘We’re Still Here’.

I love Wales, the countryside, the people, even the welsh language although how on earth anyone learns it is beyond me. My favourite teacher at Junior school was a Welshman, Mr Parry, although I can only ever refer to him as Sir in my head. He’s a Facebook friend now, and still incredibly proud of his heritage. And I’m sorry that we knocked your team out, Sir. Here’s to next time. You’ll still be here, God willing.

One of the most amazing things about hygge, when it hit it big, was suddenly language became important again. Words from across the world started being looked at and examined for their meaning and usefulness. ‘An untranslatable word that means something like…’ became a common sight in papers and magazines. The Atlas of Happiness by Helen Russell is a whole book full of words such as saudade, gemutlichkeit, wabi-sabi and hwyl that make interesting reading as each points out different ways to be happy, or not, from around the world. Being grounded, having a home (no matter how transitory) and a history that you share seems to be popular.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Hiraeth. Pronounced (according to the source I looked up) something like ‘here-eyeth’, this feeling is like nostalgia, homesickness, longing, need and want for something that can never be again. I found the explanation on the Felinfach pages easiest, but this definition from Learning Minds caught my heart:

It’s a homesickness for the places from your past you can’t return to or even those you’ve never been to. Hiraeth can also mean nostalgia for your past self, the people who are long gone, or the emotions you used to feel.

I’ve been feeling a great deal of hiraeth for Christmas the last couple of years. Between aging and Covid regulations, Christmas has not been that which it once was. Change is inevitable, and age alters us so that what was right for us as a seven year old is not what our 57 year old self requires but that doesn’t mean we don’t miss those days. Change cannot be ignored, nor is it always bad, but it does leave us with a hole in our heart where what once was is no longer. And that empty space is filled with hiraeth, a longing for what we perceived we had.

I usually try to post regularly during December, around a common theme. I was struggling this year, wondering about the 12 days as a topic, or frugal Christmas hints and tips, but neither really appealed to me. I wanted something that captured the true spirit of Christmas.

But hiraeth, a longing for a Christmas that I can never have again, that makes sense to me. Sometimes my hygge is absolutely about nostalgia and homeliness. It’s about trying to recreate, if only for a moment, a sense of simplicity, warmth and connection with those around me. Making meaningful traditions can only happen if those traditions are meaningful. And hiraeth, a longing for what was, what could have been and what might have happened, can help us to find that meaning in even the smallest parts of our Christmases.

Welcome, then, to my Christmas series for 2022: Christmas Hygge Through Christmas Hiraeth. I’ll be looking at elements of my present Christmas, tracing their evolution back in personal and social history and making connections with what it means to me now. There’ll be stories, perhaps carols or poems, perhaps recipes and crafts. Whatever. I hope it will give you hyggely feelings and, perhaps, the wish to recall your own moments of hiraeth: the people, places and activities you miss now. I’d love to hear about them, either in the comments below or through any of my social channels: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Which elements of Christmas Past do you miss? Would you return to any particular Christmas season? And how far does nostalgia for what is or what could have been a feature of your present celebrations? By the end, I hope to be celebrating a Christmas that is simpler purely because it is meaningful, not moment-filled. And that’s priceless in a year of less.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.

And my Christmas books are all available now: 

Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, with advice and ideas on how to make hygge (the cosiest way to be mindful and live in the moment) a large part of all your celebrations.

Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, with its own advent calendar of selfcare ideas.

 Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. It has advice on celebrating small scale, and keeping a Christmas flexible. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.

The photo between post and promotions is by Annie Spratt on Unsplash . I love the little car against a grey background. One of my plans for a Christmas table is based on a car like this, driving home for Christmas…… And the header is a photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash. Since I’m posting every day (hopefully) I’ll use just one header for the full set rather than try and find a new one every time and this one had all the elements I wanted for Christmas hiraeth: warm drinks, something sweet to eat, photographs and a way to capture memories forever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s