It rains in Ireland. It’s now been three days straight of non-stop rain, with flooding in places and all-round general soddenness. The emerald isle wouldn’t be so green without it I suppose, but a break from the grey would be welcome.
Most of us feel a bit down on these dark days – why does the weather affect our state of mind? Perhaps it’s linked with food production when it can be a matter of life and death and the success, or otherwise, of crops. Maybe the mind sends warnings when the sun disappears since the body needs Vitamin D. Or maybe we just hate having wet socks.
Not long ago I spent some time in Bergen in Western Norway and came to understand what was meant by the phrase ‘coming down in stair-rods’. The heavy, solid rain just did not stop. Apparently Bergen, known as the city of the seven mountains, is the wettest city in Europe. And yet Norwegians, and Scandinavians in general, are among the happiest people on the planet and regularly top the happiness index. What’s going on?
Talk to anyone from any of these countries and they’ll simply shake their heads and wonder what the problem is with darkness and cold and rain. Danish hygge has had a bit of a moment in recent years as us Celts try to learn from our Viking neighbours: snuggle under blankets, light candles, bake cakes and most of all – get outside.
No matter the weather, wrap up warm, grab an umbrella and hat and gloves and just go out the door. It keeps our Nordic neighbours sane and we can do the same. This could also lead to an important mind shift as we prepare for the challenges of winter, seeing them as an opportunity to hibernate, rest, and appreciate simple pleasures like sipping hot chocolate while listening to the rain on the windows.