Hygge for the holidays.
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swedish holiday glogg
Credit: Blaine Moats

Even if you're not quite sure how to pronounce it, hygge (HOO-ga) is something you can feel: a sense of coziness and contentment. The word stems from an old Norwegian term for "well-being," has ties to the Norse name for "hug," and signifies everything both imply: warmth, comfort, and the simple joy of connecting. It's part of the culture in many countries across Scandinavia and a way of life for the Danish, who routinely rank among the happiest people on earth. Wherever you live, it's a good descriptor for hearty, come-in-from-the-cold winter foods and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when friends and family come home for the holidays.

Hallmarks of Hygge

  • Soft, warm, indirect lighting. Light the fireplace or a few tea-light candles. Turn on the twinkle lights or some funky lamps.
  • Natural, textural elements. Think wool slippers on wood floors, pine boughs on the mantel, and a window looking out at the snow.
  • Sweet, NATURAL aromas. Catch a whiff of cinnamon, vanilla, fresh juniper, or woodsmoke, and snuggle into a cozier frame of mind.
  • Simple, handmade treats. Take comfort in comfort foods and little indulgences: cinnamon rolls, chocolate candies, good coffee.
  • Layers of Comfort. Pull on a sweater or a scarf with your jammies. Drape the sofa with a blanket that your aunt crocheted for you.
  • Togetherness. Share time and small pleasures with others: coffee with a colleague, drinks with friends, chowder for two by the fire.

Recipes of Hygge

"Glogg is a kind of mulled wine served during the Christmas holidays in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, as it is sweet, spicy, and warming. This is the adult version of the drink, so don't serve it to the kids! Garnish drinks with raisins and slivered almonds. Serve warm with gingerbread cookies." — MYLEEN SAGRADO Sjödin

swedish holiday glogg
Credit: Blaine Moats

"We are on a low-carb diet, so I substituted cooked cauliflower for the potatoes, and it was fabulous! I also added a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning." – SIDES FAMILY

"I have heard numerous times that it's tough to master a good chowder. But I found this recipe to be very flavorful, very colorful, and very easy to make." – SZA SZA

shrimp chowder
Credit: Blaine Moats

"Cool the pasta before adding sauce and baking. That keeps the pasta from absorbing too much sauce and drying out in the oven." – GOBOMEL

"This is the best mac and cheese I have made in a long time. I used less cayenne and subbed ½ teaspoon dry mustard for the Dijon. We loved that it was baked but still creamy!" – ABAPPLEZ

chef john's macaroni and cheese
Credit: Blaine Moats

"Believe all the rave reviews. It really IS that good! I roasted mine longer because many guests like beef more well done. Even then, I could still cut it with a fork." – TERI MCALISTER

"Amazing. My husband loved it. We paired it with Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon and red onion." – SERENABLOOM

beef tenderloin with roasted shallots
Credit: Blaine Moats

"Outstanding coffee cake for a brunch. I added 1/2 cup cinnamon chips and a chopped Gala apple. Excellent!" – BRYNN HANSON

apple spice cake
Credit: Blaine Moats

"Don't shy away from cardamom. It tastes peppery, earthy, and slightly citrusy. That 1/2 teaspoon makes these pop!" – SAMCLARK

danish cinnamon snails
Credit: Blaine Moats

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This article originally appeared in the December/January 2018 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.