Swedish Christmas Customs and Traditions

Sweden – Christmas Customs and Traditions

Swedish Christmas Customs and Traditions.  As the Christmas season begins in Sweden it is dark, cold and blanketed in snow which makes it all the more cosy inside. Children begin to open their Advent calendars from the first of December, behind the windows they  are rewarded with small sweets and chocolates.  Advent wreaths are made  with four candles one for each of the four Sundays of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is the day most Swedes go to church and is a start to the celebrations. On the 13th December, St.Lucia’s Day, the eldest daughter of the household gets up before dawn and dresses in a long white dress and wears a crown with candles (nowadays battery operated lights for safety reasons!) she will bring coffee and buns to her parents and the rest of the household in bed., often a younger siste or brother will lend a hand.  The Christmas tree is normally only brought into the house a day of two before Christmas and often the whole family will go out together to choose it. The tree is decorated with traditional decorations, shiny red paper-mache apples, small straw goats (Julbokar), white tree lights, small swedish flags, pine cones, glass ornaments, wrapped sweets and little gnomes wearing long pointed red hats.  The Christmas Eve dinner is a wonderful smorgesbord of food including Lutefisk, Hams, sausages, potato and beetroot salads,  herring salad, Jellied pig’s feet, pumpernickel bread, and a variety of sweets including rice pudding which contains one almond, it is said that whoever finds the almond will marry in the coming year. After dinner the Christmas tree lights are lit in readiness for the Jultomten or Tomte, the Christmas gnome, who arrives on his sleigh pulled by the Julbokar, Christmas Goat, who will bring the presents. After the opening of the presents, the family hold hands and dance around the tree singing a special song, this is also a custom that is observed in Norway.  Attending mass on Christmas day is done very early in the morning and all the windows have candles shining out. Tradition has it that the first one to reach the church will have the best harvest the following year.  The spirit of Christmas continues until 14th January, St.Knut’s Day, on this day the trees  and decorations are taken down and the children are allowed to eat all the goodies that have survived on the tree. The day is often turned into a great occasion with the youngsters dressing up as “old Knut” and playing practical jokes.   

god jul!




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