24 Small Squares for Advent: Christmas Hygge Through Christmas Hiraeth Day 2

When I wrote the other day of Advent Calendars, it set me off thinking. What was Advent like when I was small?

To be honest, I think Advent was something we celebrated more at school and not particularly at home. I seem to remember painting at least one Christmas scene to be covered over by numbered paper and revealed in order. I do know that between play practices and parties, school seemed to stop in early December and start again in January.

Advent crowns… the candle wreaths with purple, pink and white candles ready…. are something I do remember at school. At least once a day the Juniors would gather for assembly and the teacher leading the assembly … often the headmistress, Sister Thomasina but sometimes the Deputy Head Miss Melia… would light the candle for the week. I can’t remember whether I was told the significance of the weeks then or later? It might have been later. When I had the chance to buy a proper metal advent wreath at my last Founder’s Day service, heavily pregnant and about to stop work in schools for the foreseeable, I bought it with pleasure and have used it every year since. My children loved lighting the candle every day.

Secondary school didn’t make much of a fuss for Christmas. It was a very Christian school, and quite undemonstrative in many ways. Advent hymns were enough. I can’t even remember how we delivered cards there? Was there a post box?

But I think Advent at home wasn’t a totally busy celebration time. To a large extent, it was a time of preparation, not party, not least because my youngest brother celebrated his birthday on 14th December and nothing Christmassy was allowed in the house until then. We had the shared advent calendar, chocolate-free and often saved from the year before. There were four of us, so we took it in turns to open. Of course, the youngest brother had to open the 14th, and I always wanted to open 5, because that is my favourite number. Chocolates? I don’t remember them Not until I was old enough and had enough funds to buy my own.

I enjoy the wide variety of calendars available now, but sometimes I wonder if the easiest options aren’t still the best. I eschew make up filled boxes of glittered goodness and cans of craft beer stacked together. I quite like the idea of having a simple jar with 24 notes, perhaps a Bible verse or line of poetry. I’m really fond of having 24 of your favourite every day sweets and just eating one a day. And I like the idea of having a book to read and contemplate, either a ready-written Advent study or a poetry book, or an anthology such as A Literary Christmas which has over 24 readings to set the mood. Over the years, I’ve decided that an advent calendar/countdown for me needs tea, chocolate and something to make me think. I like self-care ideas, and now have an updated set (thanks to Sarah) which you can download as a pdf . Yesterday’s card for Sarah said find a candle to light every night. Another small, but meaningful, activity to mark out advent. And, of course, I’m enjoying my Doodle a Day advent calendar. Today’s topic was Advent Calendars and I have to admit to cheating and copying from a friend, Lisa, who posted this on Instagram. I love the homemadeness of this calendar, as well as the adaptability.

Today’s Film is Elf, which may need to be watched in two parts as both Sarah and I are out tonight. It’s good to see Buddy’s absolutely over the top preparations for Christmas, almost as though it saves me from having to respond.

And if you really want or need an old-fashioned paper advent, to use, save and use again next year, I found this large 3d Advent calendar on a website called Alpen Schatz that, I must admit, I’ve never used, but does look fascinating.

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.

2 thoughts on “24 Small Squares for Advent: Christmas Hygge Through Christmas Hiraeth Day 2

  1. I look forward to your posts each day! Thank you so much for writing! I live in Santa Barbara, so our Christmas weather looks a bit different from yours, but as a student, I lived in Oxford for 6 months (including the holiday season), and I have been in love with England ever since. 🙂 Have you read Beth Kempton’s book Calm Christmas or listened to her podcast (The Calm Christmas Podcast)? Both are beautiful and fit with your emphasis on making space for the magic of slow, gentle, intentional moments.

    I am part of a women’s circle and resonated with your posts about your longing to create that for yourself, as well. I hope that is coming into being for you!

    *Also, I found the magazine The Simple Things because of you and love it so much! Thank you and Merry Christmas!


    1. Thank you, Kate! It’s lovely to be told that what I write means something to somebody!
      I love Calm Christmas: the podcast is one I listen to on my way home. The Women’s Circle, well, I’m still working on that one. But I’ll get there.


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