Chanukah + Hygge
My favorite things about Chanukah (in no particular order) are:
I’ve somehow managed to convince myself that calories don’t count as I binge eat fried food (it’s a mitzvah!)
Having a reason to make sure that every night, I have family/friends/colleagues/random people to gather with for a shared experience of songs and candles
Embracing Chanukah kitsch - my ugly sweater game is on point this year, and my dog may or may not have a singing dreidel stuffed animal
Chanukah is an at home holiday for me, which means Chanukah = fuzzy socks, snuggly pajamas and blankets, and plenty of couch potato (couch latke??) time
In a nutshell, Chanukah is the ultimate hygge holiday.
For the uninitiated, hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish concept meaning a mood of coziness and comfortable contentment, which is credited with being the core reason that the Danes are regularly ranked among the happiest people in the world. It’s how the Scandinavian people get through their long, dark winters, by cultivating wonderful, family-focused in-home practices. And I’m positing that it’s why Chanukah, our own winter family holiday, has garnered such mass appeal. Yes, it’s the Jewish answer to Christmas tree FOMO, and, as a reminder, the commemoration of an ancient miracle/victory of nationalism, but it’s also a time of togetherness, comfort, and simple pleasures.
The most classic elements of hygge are candles, hearty and warm foods, snuggly fabrics, and simple pleasures such as playing games and crafting. In other words, it goes hand in hand with Chanukah. From the lighting of the menorah to the eating of latkes and soufganiyot, the traditions that we associate with Chanukah instinctively mirror the hygge practices that give the winter months a feeling of cozy togetherness. Chanukah, by the nature of the events it commemorates, is one of our longest holidays. Rather than the two-day festivities that generally involve scrambling to coordinate meals, services, lesson plans, and dare I say a few stolen moments for meaning and reflection, the eight days of Chanukah give us as educators the best gift of all - the gift of time. We have the chance to teach a ritual with repetition, with each night’s songs and blessings building on each other until they feel familiar to our learners. We have the space to not get too worried about competing with each other, or with soccer, or homework, because there are so many nights to go around. So let’s de-stress, and embrace the hygge-day!