Ideas abound to make the winter months merry and bright

Winter can be a difficult time for us. Often people overlook the effect that winter can have on our body and mind. The arrival of the cold, dark, snowy season doesn’t mean we have to hibernate; in fact, we can thrive. This article was inspired by a Finnish friend and a number of neighbours who have great ideas for winter. 

This summer, I completed the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago and met Finnish pilgrim Sophie. During our hours spent walking, we talked about our homes and about winter.  Depending on where you are in Finland, winter can last for three to seven months and northern areas get mere hours of light a day. To handle winter, they adopt the Danish concept of hygge to create a pleasant, warm, and cozy environment to elevate the mood. This is done by getting together with friends, reading a good book, having a warm drink, listening to music, and using light therapy lamps to simulate sunlight. 

Traditional kitchen parties are a great way to enjoy music and friendship.| Supplied

Warm drinks—yum! Coffee gets you moving on cold, dark winter mornings and a coffee date is an important social time to catch up with friends and colleagues. In our neighbourhood, we have some great options like The Carrot Coffeehouse (9351 118 Ave). They are open from morning to night, five days a week, and provide a place to “meet, work, laugh, and create”. There is live music on Friday evenings and an open-mic on Saturdays. 

Speaking of warm and cozy indoor opportunities, we have many. You can find activities right here in the Rat Creek Press and on the City of Edmonton website. Our local libraries are open in the evenings and provide free Internet service, books, and videos to enjoy, along with specific events. Or do some local shopping with weekend pop-up markets (watch the RCP for these) and at the new Downtown Farmers Market (10305 97 St). 

Embrace the outdoors this winter with activities like cross-country skiing. | Rebecca Lippiatt

Another option is to do it yourself. What could be more inspiring than a good old kitchen party? An evening with music, food, laughter, and community building will make the winter bright. 

While I embrace hygge, we also have the great outdoors. The elusive sun is precious in winter and we know that sunlight is important for our health. There are many outdoor opportunities to fit your interests, such as numerous local skating rinks, our Deep Freeze Festival, local sledding areas, cross-country skiing, hiking with the Edmonton Hikers Group, or walking in our fabulous river valley. 

Regardless of what comes to mind, I would start with this Finnish saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” When it is cold, start with a comfortable under layer that draws perspiration away from the skin and follow this with a layer of fleece, cotton, or wool. Your outer layer should be windproof and waterproof, but breathable. Of course, pay attention to protecting the feet, hands, and head from the cold, as nothing will ruin an outing quite like being cold. Socks can be layered. The first layer should wick moisture away. A wool sock layer will keep in the warmth. Gloves should be roomy, with a warm lining, and headgear should protect your ears, maybe with a balaclava to protect the face. Winter clothing can be costly, so check out the second-hand stores in our neighbourhoods.

Note: the photographer for last month’s photos of the nativity scene is Paula Kirman.

Featured Image: Celebrate with a kitchen party, like this neighbourhood party. | Supplied