In this episode of the Mom to Mom podcast, Jamie Erikson discusses her newly released book, Holy Hygge: Creating a Place for People to Gather and the Gospel to Grow, with co-hosts, Kate Battistelli and September McCarthy. Jamie will unpack what the Danish lifestyle trend ‘hygge’ is and how it can be a versatile tool in demonstrating the Gospel to the world as well as within our homes.
What is hygge
Jamie Eriksson is no stranger to the Danish lifestyle “hygge” which stems from the British and Norwegian words for hug. Jamie is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and lives with her husband in Minnesota, the state that boasts the most Scandinavians in the United States. Since moving to Minnesota, Jamie has been cocooned in the hygge lifestyle having also a husband from Danish descent.
Jamie reflects that at the core of hygge living is this quality of coziness and embrace from fostering a life of hospitality, contentment and rest. Jamie unpacks the idea of hygge to listeners,
“It is the Danish version of creating a sanctuary life… It’s about making some outward choices that would support and bolster your inward life.”
Hygge is becoming a buzzword, where the lifestyle movement is garnering traction on social media in recent years and reflects the open-handed, hospitable and ‘invitational lifestyle’ that the Danish are well-known for.
Being willing to be open
Jamie says that regardless of where you live, you can embrace the principles of hygge which encourages hospitality and more meaningful relationships, as opposed to a sterilized life. Hygge is about opening up your life, even if it doesn’t look picture perfect. Jamie advises,
“People want to feel welcomed, seen and known… People want to come with their real self and their real struggles. One way we can help them do that and have the courage to that is if we do the same”
This may mean opening up our homes when there are dishes in the sink or laundry on the couch! Jamie says hygge is really about being real and not putting on a veneer of perfection.
Jamie says if you look at the seven tenets of hygge you will see them in the Garden of Eden and later in the second home of Jesus where we can experience hospitality and deep connection. Jamie explains that sin has marred and distorted our world and now we are yearning for an Eden experience. She observes,
“We are all on this side of the garden doing our very best to return to that garden-like atmosphere and so hygge is really the Danish way of doing that.”
Jamie cautions hygge is not a replacement for our faith in Christ, it’s just a temporary tool so we can find ways to create a sanctuary in our homes for our family and friends this side of heaven so it becomes more hospitable and welcoming to others.
Being at home in the everyday
It’s common for stay-at-home parents to struggle with homelife as they can feel stuck and experience a life of sameness. Jamie notes that hygge is a way of making the mundane and everyday more purposeful and beautiful. She asks listeners to consider changes you can make at your home to experience holy hygge.
One way you can do this is to become intentional about the seasons so we can step into the seasons in anticipation and not with dread. Jamie says that the Danes have learnt to embrace the dark, bitter cold which can last nine months of the year by developing seasonal activities that the whole family can get involved in. Jamie explains,
“Hygge is about being fully present in the moment that you are in, in the season you are in. Practically speaking this is determined by the calendar seasons.”
We cannot always change our circumstances but we can change our perspective. Jamie says by looking at the mundane more intentionally, you can develop certain traditions and foods that you experience only in those seasons as a way to look forward to them as a family.
For the Danish, Winter is something to be enjoyed rather than something to be endured. They are known to light candles, sip warm drinks and get comfortable around a wood fireplace, creating a warm atmosphere. Jamie says family customs can be developed for the warmer months as well. In Minnesota there are only a few months of sunshine and so Jamie and her household make the best of this time by making an ice cream cake in the month of July that has become a family tradition in Summer.
Embracing hygge as a believer
Hygge can be helpful as we make practical changes to become more hospitable and embrace a way of living that is more oriented towards being more hospitable, cultivating meaningful relationships and living with contentment.
Jamie warns that embracing hygge as a follower of Jesus requires more than just a lifestyle tool of hygge. We are better served as believers by using the tools of hygge for the Kingdom. She asks,
“Am I making a space so people are comfortable to not just meet me, but meet the one who has made a home in me?”
Jamie asks whether we are creating gospel encounters for friends and family as we focus on making an inviting home and life? In our 21st century lifestyle and in a post-pandemic world, Jamie observes that people are really craving to be welcomed in and to be given a seat at the table. She points to the life of Jesus who did not separate the sacred from the secular and offers a way of living that embraces the stranger. To live out the Great Commision, Katie suggests we can walk out the gospel with contentment and add an extra seat at our table for people who may not know Jesus.