Christmas is celebrated in Germany and Sweden. However, a few traditions and customs are quite different. It starts at Luciafest and ends at Jultomte. We show you how Christmas is celebrated in Sweden.
The pre-Christmas season in Sweden
Just like here, the retail trade in Sweden is early to change its assortment for Christmas. At the latest in October the first Pepparkakor, thus gingerbread men lie in the shelf. There are still weeks to the 1. Advent! Advent Sundays are also spent in Sweden in a cozy atmosphere to get in the mood for Christmas at home. Advent officially heralds the pre-Christmas season.
At the latest with the Luciafest on 13. December finally brings the Christmas spirit. The days are shorter here in winter, but in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries it is especially dark around Christmas time. Lucia, the Queen of Lights, brings light into the darkness.
She wears a red ribbon around her waist and a wreath of candles on her head. In her white robe, she visits kindergartens, schools, old people’s homes and also families at home, just like the carol singers do here. With her she has Lussekatt, a Swedish Christmas cake with bright yellow saffron, and Glogg. Especially nice to see: the luminous Luciaumzuge.
Are you looking for the typical Swedish sweets?? With us in the store you find it.
But also The Naschhaus Swedish Classics are always a perfect gift. Look forward to a richly filled burlap bag with treats ranging from crunchy to melt-in-the-mouth – sometimes salty, sometimes sugary, sometimes both. Because in Sweden one nibbles with pleasure unusually. The delicious mixture is sure to please every Sweden fan for birthdays, Christmas or just because. Of course you can also spoil yourself with it.
For our gift bag we have chosen classics for snacking like in Sweden. A colorful mixture Losgodis as well as guaranteed a Marabou chocolate you will find in every bag. You can share the mixture, give it away or just eat it yourself.
Here you can find the "The Naschhaus Swedish Classics" in the gift bag with us in the store.
Julafton – giving presents in Swedish
On Christmas Eve, which is called Julafton in Sweden, there are the presents. However, no fat Santa Claus with a beard arrives on a sleigh, but the Jultomte sneaks inconspicuously into the house. Due to his size this is not difficult for him. Jultomte is the "Christmas gnome". He lives together with other dwarfs in the forest, where they surely have a secret hiding place for all the toys the children wish for. In his figure Nordic mythology merges with Christian customs.
By the way, a tomte lives in every Swedish house. The little house ghost should be especially pampered at Christmas. Everything else brings misfortune. Therefore, a plate of groats with a spoon is placed in front of the door. And don’t forget the spoon! This also brings bad luck and for the rest of the year the tomte plays nasty tricks on you.
Beside the jultomte there is the julbock, who used to bring the presents. The "Christmas buck" is probably also the result of a mixture of different customs. Early drawings show St. Nicholas with a billy goat, which stands for the devil. For Saint Nicholas has tamed evil. But the god Thor also has a team of two billy goats … So it’s not entirely clear what the Yule log actually stands for.
Today the Julbock sits symbolically under the Christmas tree. Maybe he will take care of the presents. And yes, also the Swedes have a Christmas tree and it usually stays longer in the house than with us. Namely until Knut Day on the 13th. January. Then it is looted and thrown out on end.
The perfect Christmas tree?
A few days before Christmas Eve, the Swedes go in search of the perfect Christmas tree. This is a serious matter – the tree is the symbol of Christmas par excellence, and it must be dense and evenly branched and straight. If you live in a city, you buy the tree on the street or square.
Those who live in the countryside cut their Christmas tree themselves. Many Swedes believe – mistakenly – that their legal right to enter the countryside allows them to take a tree out of the forest wherever they want, with an axe, a hacksaw or – as in western Varmland on the Norwegian border – a shotgun. Not recommended.
The trees are decorated according to family traditions. Some are decorated with flags, others with tinsel and many with colorful baubles. Electric lights are usually preferred to candles on the tree because of the fire hazard.
Tomte or Santa Claus?
After the festive dinner on Christmas Eve, someone dresses up as Tomte. Tomte is a Christmas elf who, according to Swedish legend, lives on a farm or in the forest. Tomte looks a bit like Santa Claus and distributes the presents to the family while reciting funny rhymes. Nowadays, the westernized version of Christmas is fast catching up with Sweden, and Tomte is beginning to lose his original identity and is starting to look a lot like the commercial Santa Claus.
Swedish Christmas dinner – Julbord
Traditionally, Christmas dinner is served as a buffet in Sweden. So everyone can take what tastes best and no one has to guard the hearth. In the circle of one’s loved ones one has good conversations and watches "Kalle Anka", the Swedish version of Donald Duck. This, too, is a Swedish Christmas tradition that has been cultivated since the 1960s in the same way that we Germans watch "Dinner For One" on New Year’s Eve.
After all the Christmas hustle and bustle, the Swedes need a break. For the traditional fika, coffee is served with sweets. The matching Swedish sweets are available at the Naschhaus in Berlin-Friedrichshain and in our online shop. Well then: God Jul!
Photo by Naitian（Tony） Wang on Unsplash // Teaser image: photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash