How to Make the Most of “Romjul,” the Norwegian Word for This Week

published Dec 26, 2020
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Students know it as winter break. Perhaps you define it as the week of having leftovers for every meal, or shopping the end-of-year sales with abandon. The limitations of the English language means that we don’t really have a word for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but luckily for everyone, Norwegians do.

It’s called “Romjul,” and it’s actually part of a multi-week sequence that includes both advent and Epiphany on Jan. 6, which is better known as Three King’s Day in the United States. But you don’t need to celebrate Christmas to make the most of the one time of year when it seems like everything actually slows down for a few days.

Whether you’re working through the week or enjoying the knowledge that your “out of office” responder is doing its thing in your email inbox, there are plenty of ways to spend the downtime. Here are seven ways to use this time to reset, recharge, and make the most of a slower-paced world.

Spend a day entirely offline

An excess amount of screen time can be detrimental for kids and adults alike, and chances are good you’ve been logged on more than ever this year. Why not schedule a day without screens—and that includes avoiding email, television, and text messages? Not only will you let your eyes rest from a lot of blue light, but you might just find you don’t need to keep up with every news alert as it happens.

Be sure to turn your phone on “do not disturb” or airplane mode soon after you wake up. It can be helpful to alert friends and family that you’re taking a day offline in advance, so they don’t worry about getting a hold of you. (If some people in your life might need to get ahold of you in an emergency, you can program their numbers to bypass the “do not disturb” mode on your phone.)

Revisit that hobby you picked up midway through the year

Whether it was a sourdough starter you’ve long since let die, or a needlepoint or knitting kit that is hanging somewhere around your home, taking another stab at your project might help you approach it with fresh eyes. The habit might stick the second time around, or you might realize that your hobby really isn’t for you, which can help you figure out how to donate your materials and tools—and make room for the right hobby for you.

Host a one-week book club

Whether you’ve been diligently working through a stack of books all year, or are woefully behind on the books you keep buying, you can use this downtime to catch up on at least one book. If you and your friends have all been meaning to read the same best-seller, you can plan to come together at the end of the week to discuss it. Studies show that book clubs provide plenty of benefits to their participants, and if this trial run works, you might just be inspired to keep the trend going through the new year.

Deep clean your space before the New Year

You might start with putting your holiday decorations away, but if the mood strikes, why not extend that motivation to the rest of your space? Start with our Lifestyle Director Taryn’s golden rule for decluttering, and poke around for more tips for your closet, kitchen, and everywhere in between. You can also sign up for the Apartment Therapy January Cure for an easy, step-by-step process to declutter your space and keep your space clean for the long haul.

Finish sending your holiday cards

Did you mean to send those cards weeks ago? Heck, did you mean to pick them out weeks ago? Don’t fret—just use this time to finally put pen to paper and send your loved ones your best wishes. They won’t judge, and you can use the delay as a way to keep the cheery vibes going into the new year.

Go for a (really long) walk

You’ve probably spent more time than ever cooped up inside, which is why this is the perfect time to establish a daily walking habit. (When I recently bemoaned to my therapist that I feel weird walking with nowhere to go, she pointed out that the act of walking is the purpose itself.) There are plenty of health benefits associated with working out in the cold, but still be sure to bundle up if the temperatures are dropping in your town. Whether your walk for 30 minutes, an hour, or more, you might just find a cadence that sticks.

Check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while

Typically, Romjul is meant for cozy merry-making, but that’s off the table for a lot of people this year. Call up a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, or a family member you’d typically see this time of year and catch up on their moves from the past year. If there was ever a year to let a connection drop, it was this one. Don’t fret! Pick up where you left off and make a commitment to keep in touch more over the new year. This call can be a perfect way to start.