Hygge: By Elijah Hartley

Winter is coming. Oklahoma may not get White Walkers, or many blizzards, but we can still count on three solid months of monotone. Our state will almost certainly get a few good Arctic fronts, a snow day or two and just enough daylight to make your day feel wasted if you happen to sleep past noon. Some people love this (vampires), but winter is my least favorite season and I am already counting the days till spring.

I am not alone. There are a lot of people who barely make it through winter without popping a Prozac. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, it’s basically depression caused by cold, dark, and winter. SAD can happen during any season I suppose, but I’m guessing 95% is caused by winter.

If you are susceptible to SAD, there is hope. It’s a clever Danish cure for frosty First World problems called hygge. Hygge, (pronounced Hoo-gah or who-gah) does not have an exact English translation, but if it did it would be something like “cozy or hug.”

Hygge is a feeling. It’s an aesthetic. It is a philosophy. It’s hedonism without the hangover.


Hygge is the art of surviving winter well. It’s a warm pair of socks and slice of apple pie. A crackling fire and close friends. Comfort without guilt. Conversation without politics.

Full disclosure, I am not Scandinavian, nor do I speak the language. I am a full-blooded Oklahoman. I learned about hygge three years ago after it was accidentally imported to the East coast, presumably with a shipment of Ikea lamps. Hygge slowly hitchhiked to the Midwest and I picked it up on some cold dark road while listening to NPR. Honestly, I’d like to think hygge found me, the same way Pho, White Russians, or my VHS of Point Break did.

Regardless of who found who, hygge has found a home with me. We were already old friends, I just finally put a name to a face. That all being said, there is no right or wrong to hygge. It’s like the Holy Ghost. It’s different for different people. You can speak in tongues or sit and silence, so long as you have that warm, cozy feeling inside. Hygge is a mindset that will get you through that miserably cold day at work and that final stretch of a long winter. It’s about relaxing and justifying those sugary sweets because hot pie is, after all, better than Prozac.

Here are 10 hygge ideas that Oklahoman’s or anyone else might enjoy.

1.    A warm campfire, headlamps, and a few of your close, folk singing friends at someone’s uncle's cabin.

2.    A two day bender in PJ’s binge watching some new Netflix series, or rewatching every Harry Potter film again as a full grown adult.

3.    Go see The Nutcracker at the Civic Center.

4.    Hot chocolate, Hot cider, or Hot-Mulled Wine and Christmas light looking in Yukon, Nichols Hills, Chickasha, Muskogee or anywhere really.

5.    Hot soup, wool socks, cinnamon candles and board games with a few close friends.

6.    A seasonal beer and a good chat on the patio of any low key spot on a slow night.

7.    Bake some damn cookies from scratch or invite someone over who can.

8.    Paint, play music, write, or just make art. Especially if you usually don’t or think you can’t.

9.    Invest in a good robe, good socks, and a good sweater, then wear the shit seams out of em.

10.  Hot tub, Hot bath, Hot Spring, Hot shower, whatever you can find. Just get in some hot water and stay for awhile. Soak.



Remember, hygge is ultimately all about what makes you comfortable. So set guilt aside, bake some cookies and treat yourself. Share the experience with a few close friends or family members, but keep to small crowds.

~ Elijah Hartley