Growing up in Montana, I remember winters being more about cozy gatherings with family and friends than shopping or hitting the latest chic restaurant. We cared more about experiencing nature everyday than braggadocious adventure travel. I still shudder when I hear people talking about “bagging fourteen-ers” in Colorado, as if a journey into stunning mountain territory is more about notching a belt than encountering beauty, breathing deeply, and catching up with a good friend.
So how do you explain to outsiders what it’s like to live in Montana during the winter? In a word: hygge.
Hygge—Danish for “coziness” and pronounced “hoo-guh”—has been transformed by lifestyle bloggers to mean candlelight, wool socks, hearty recipes, and Pin-able tips on how to throw a party. While it includes those elements, it’s so much more. Hygge is a philosophy that embraces slowing down. It champions simplicity, balance, and living in the moment, and welcomes intimate conversations about the big, the small, the ordinary and the extraordinary.
February isn’t known as the peak season of hygge but it should be. Valentine’s Day, a long President’s Day Weekend, and crossing the midpoint of winter all give excuses to slow down, find a cozy nook with a loved one, and honor hygge. Here are a few ideas:
Surrender to Gravity, Encounter Beauty
There’s nothing like relaxing into a good curve once you’ve found your groove on a favorite run. Montana skiing and winter sports are about breathing deeply, enjoying pristine, uncrowded views, and chatting with your ski buddy, lift mate, or yourself about how good it is to be alive—right now and right here.
Ok, it’s February and I have to at least mention chocolate. And love. For simply scrumptious chocolate, go to La Châtelaine. For deepening love, grab your sweetheart and head to Outlaw Brewing for Asanas and Ales, go to the Emerson for a Tango lesson, or journey to Rockin TJ Ranch for the Cirque du Coeur. Or show yourself some love and take in music and a soak at Bozeman Hot Springs’ Singles’ Night.
Enhance Knowledge, Improve Cozy Conversation
What makes a good conversation? The answer is likely different for everyone, but it never hurts to expand your knowledge base. From Avalanche Training Classes every Friday and Saturday in Cooke City, to Trivia Thursdays at Colonel Blacks, Chess Club for the kiddies Tuesdays at the Library, or the new Crocs exhibit opening at the Museum of the Rockies this month, there’s something for everyone to learn, and then discuss with a loved one.
Happy Hygge-ing! And remember, in Montana it’s all about the Journey!