The dark season has started here in Amsterdam, and more days than not, it’s grey, cold, and very dim. The sun doesn’t come up until almost 8am and sets before 5pm now, and it won’t be long until it’s still middle-of-the-night dark at 8am with the light starting to disappear at three in the afternoon.
Getting used to the lack of daylight in winter (and abundance of it in the summer) was one of the biggest adjustments of living here. It’s easy to succumb to the winter blues when the sun is only visible for a couple hours each day, if at all. Rather than curse the darkness, though, I have decided to embrace the coziness of the season and celebrate the Dutch idea of “gezelligheid.” Gezelligheid is sort of the Dutch version of the Danish Hygge, which celebrates all things cozy, pleasant, and generally warm.
Here’s what I’m planning on doing this season to make our days as “gezellig” and enjoyable as possible:
- Burning candles everyday. As soon as we get up and head downstairs, we turn on all the lights and light the candles on the dining table. If I forget, Prim always makes sure to remind me to “turn the candles on.”
- Bundling up in warm clothes for our weekly trip to our favorite local bakery. We buy a big loaf of freshly-baked sourdough and often will pick up a little treat like a still-warm croissant or cheesy baguette to enjoy in the afternoon after naptime.
- Dressing in soft, comfortable clothes when we’re just hanging at home during the day. We run the heat, but this old Dutch house is always a little drafty, so I make sure we’re all cozied up in thick socks and big, soft sweatshirts.
- Relaxing my “No TV” policy a bit. So much time indoors inevitably results in a few days that call for A Charlie Brown Christmas or an episode of Puffin Rock while Lark naps.
- Rather than taking a shower, I will take a bath on some nights, which is ideal for unwinding and warming up before bed. I light a few candles, throw in some bath salts, and will listen to one of my favorite podcasts while I remember that last year while I did this, my big, Lark-laden belly stuck up out of the water.
- I’m making big batches of comfort foods these days — simmering homemade chicken stock for batches of risotto or minestrone, and planning on other favorites like beef stew and spaghetti with meatballs.
- Big cups of hot coffee are making these cold, gray mornings bearable, especially when they’re of this delicious variety.
- And of course the evenings leading up to the kids bedtime (which can sometimes feel endless) are much more relaxing with a glass of wine (or really — champagne, which is always my preference).
- If our board games weren’t locked away in storage back in California I would totally force KC to have a Scrabble night.
How are you staying cozy this winter?