How cold-weather cultures can help families find joy during a dark winter

These chilly traditions from around the world can turn cold days into cozy opportunities.

When Claudia Laroye spent a year as an exchange student in Karlskoga, Sweden, she found the winter’s fleeting daylight difficult. “It was dark when I went to school and it was dark when I came home from school,” she recalls. “It definitely wore on me.” But the Swedish tradition of lighting a lamp in every window during the shortest days of the year helped lift her spirits—and now she’s brought the tradition to her home in Vancouver.

“I found lights that I liked and installed them in our windows,” says Laroye, a writer and mom of two sons. “We go for walks with our dog every evening after dinner and when I look back at the house, the lights just make me happy.”

Finding warmth and joy in the midst of a long, dark winter is a time-honored tradition in cold-weather cultures around the world. Called hygge in Denmark, mysigt in Sweden, friluftsliv in Norway, and gemütlichkeit in Germany—these cozy customs are ways families everywhere can cope this coming winter as days grow shorter and another spate of stay-at-home orders looms large.

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