5 SWEDISH HOLIDAY TRADITIONS YOU'LL (MOSTLY) WANT TO ADOPT
With stockings near the fireplace, bright shining lights all over the lawn, and neatly decorated gingerbread houses, holidays in the U.S. are full of wonderful traditions. But how do our customs compare to those in Sweden? Whether it’s mulled wine, Donald Duck, or candles galore, there’s definitely a Swedish tradition (or two) you’ll want to try out for yourself this season.
1. Early Is the New On-Time
Are you super eager for Christmas to come? If the excitement is too much to handle, celebrate Christmas a day early like they do in Sweden! Celebrations start as early December 13, which is called St. Lucia’s Day. Girls sometimes like dressing up as Lucia with a white dress, a red sash, and a crown of candles on their heads. Also, boys might dress up as ‘Stjärngossar’ or star boys, wearing pointed hats and carrying star wands. The 24th of December is the highlight of Christmas with lots of celebrations that come with ir. Unlike Americans who wait until the morning of the 25th, unwrapping of presents are done on the 24th. Not only is Christmas celebrated early, the holiday season doesn’t end until January 13th or St. Knut’s Day. Celebrating Christmas a day early and well into the month of January? I think the Swedes have the right idea!
2. Sweet Exception
Instead of Coca Cola, Julmust is commonly consumed during the holidays. Julmust is a Swedish soft drink invented by Harry Roberts as a nonalcoholic alternative to beer and porter, which was traditionally drank during Christmas in Sweden. It kind of tastes like a super sweet, slightly spicy root beer. Although we normally don't support sugary drinks, Christmas seems like the perfect time for this sweet exception.
3. Subtly Decorated
With minimalism as the core of many Swedish styles (like with our Henné packaging), holiday decorations are fairly simple and minimalist, a vast difference compared to the flashy bright lights in the U.S. Popular decorations include baubles, candles, apples, Swedish flags, small gnomes, tasseled caps, and straw ornaments. And don't forget to sprinkle your home with Advent stars.
These stars are usually made from paper or metal and are hung on windows, representing the Star of Bethlehem. Candles are also a must with decorations. The four Advent candles are lit one by one each Sunday before Christmas, counting down until the holiday while symbolizing the passage of the four weeks of Advent. It’s also not uncommon to find a candle in every room.
4. Gather Around the TV
As Americans gather around the fireplace, the Swedes are gathering around the television to watch Kalle Anka (Donald Duck). That’s right, the iconic quack of the beloved Disney character marks an age-old tradition in Sweden. Every Christmas Eve at 3pm, families come together to watch a series of old cartoons of Donald Duck from the 1950s. All the children and even the grownups join in to hear “Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul” meaning “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas!”
5. Swedish Smorgasbord
Leave plenty of room in your stomach because with the julbord, you’ll be more than overwhelmed with the amount of food on the table! Julbord is similar to a buffet or a feast, eaten during lunchtime with various traditional dishes. This Swedish smorgasbord of food commonly consists of smoked salmon, pickled herring, lye-fish, ham, sausages, ribs, cabbage, potatoes, meatballs, cheeses, different types of bread and butter, and plenty more. My mouth is drooling just thinking about it! The dessert portion of the julbord might be a selection of pastries, homemade sweets, or pepparkakor (popular Scandinavian gingersnap cookie). How are you going to wash all this food down, you ask? With some glögg of course!
Glögg is the Swedish version of mulled wine, with combinations of different spices, and sometimes almonds and raisins are placed in the bottom of the glass. Glögg parties can be found almost every weekend in December. Or if that’s not your scene, enjoy a quiet night in with a mug of glögg and a plate of pepparkakor.