Scandinavian christmas – the traditional family celebration

Even though Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish Christmas traditions are slightly different from each other, the countries have one thing in common: Christmas in Scandinavia is the most important celebration and the most beautiful time of the year. On the holidays the family comes together. What makes the time before and around Christmas and how to celebrate typical Scandinavian Christmas with Traditions and Customs celebrates, you can find out here.

The Advent and Christmas season

Christmas markets

Scandinavian christmas - the traditional family celebration

Scandinavian Christmas markets are particularly atmospheric.

Traditionally, the Christmas and Advent season in Scandinavia is heralded with the cozy Christmas markets. These are very well attended in the larger cities, such as Stockholm, Gothenburg or Copenhagen, both by locals and tourists. Especially atmospheric are the Christmas markets in old amusement parks, such as the Tivoli in Copenhagen or the Liseberg in Gothenburg, in open-air museums or in the old cities. Meanwhile, the flair there is so popular that Scandinavian Christmas markets are also held in Germany.

But the offer there is similar: There is Mulled wine, to taste roasted almonds and other regional delicacies as well as Crafts to marvel at.

Lucia festival

Lucia celebration in Sweden

The Lucia crown with burning candles

On 13. December is then the Lucia feast or also Festival of Lights in honor of the Saint Lucia celebrated – actually an Italian saint. The tradition is especially widespread in Sweden, but the day is also celebrated in Denmark and Norway and to some extent in Finland.

Especially children look forward to the festivities, as they can go dressed up in one of the many parades can go along. Traditionally, mulled wine or punch is drunk here, the so-called Glogg, and saffron pastries that Lussekatter, and pepper rolls are eaten. Even if everything already seems very Christmassy, the Lucia celebration has actually only little to do with Christmas. Originally the shortest day of the year celebrated by the numerous candles lit up. The child, dressed as Saint Lucia, wears a crown with candles on her head.

The Christmas holidays

Festivities and customs

Scandinavian christmas - the traditional family celebration

Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together.

Throughout Scandinavia, Christmas is considered the "Feast of love". That is why the Family The tree is given a special meaning on the holidays. Scandinavians like to be with their loved ones and carry out traditions together.

In Sweden, people do not attend church on Christmas Eve, but on one of the two Christmas holidays. Instead, in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, people drop in at friends and neighbors by. In Finland, on the other hand, people commemorate the dead on Christmas Eve and visit the cemetery. Finns also like to go to the traditional Christmas sauna. In Norway the 26. December very special, because it is considered a party day. Many Norwegians go out in the evening bars and pubs, while children go from door to door in disguise.

In Sweden, Denmark and Norway Christmas is called jul, in Finland joulu. Accordingly one says here God jul! or Hyvaa joulua! for "Merry Christmas!".

Santa Claus and Christmas elves

Scandinavian christmas - the traditional family celebration

In Finland and Denmark Santa Claus comes.

Different in Scandinavia is the belief in it, who brings the gifts. In Finland one tells oneself that the Santa Claus, called Joulupukki, comes, while he is in Denmark Julemand names. Both get help from little Secret Santa when delivering presents. The Swedes and Norwegians tell each other that Secret Santa the presents with their Reindeer sleigh distribute. To prevent them from playing tricks, a bowl of porridge is placed on the windowsill or in front of the door in the evening.

Christmas decoration and ambience

Typically at Christmas in Scandinavia there is also a festive Christmas tree. This is traditionally decorated in the far north with fairy lights, straw stars, straw dolls and the Julbock, decorated with a goat made of straw. In addition delicious Christmas pastry is nibbled.

Scandinavian christmas - the traditional family celebration

At Christmas in Scandinavia it becomes particularly "hyggelig.

Scandinavians love decorations, especially at Christmas. During Advent, they put up Advent wreath with four candles on. In Denmark, however Calendar candles lit every evening and lit from the first to the 24th day of the week. December burn down piece by piece.

In Sweden and Denmark, the Christmas tree is traditionally decorated with the family the night before Christmas Eve, the so-called lillejulafton (Swedish) or lillejuleaften (Danish), which means "the little Christmas Eve". In the countryside, it is even still customary for the tree itself to be cut in the forest. However, the tradition of putting up a tree was adopted from Germany.

In addition, the day before the Christmas dinner and gifts are prepared. Thereby typically suitable Christmas programs run on the television set. In Sweden and Norway hangs on the tree the from the Nordic mythology originated julbock or julebukk, a Goat made of straw. In Denmark, the tree is often decorated with real candles as well as paper hearts (julehjerter) in the national colors red and white. Generally in Scandinavia this is decorated with lots of lights and straw pendants.

The Christmas dinner

Of course, in Scandinavia at Christmas also feasted. In Sweden, the Christmas menu is called on the covered festive table or also the christmas buffet julbord. For this the typical Christmas dishes fetched from the cupboard.

Traditionally, a lot of fish and meat on the table, including julskinka, the Christmas ham. In Sweden is also Janssens frestelse ("Jansson’s temptation") is very popular and refers to a casserole of potatoes and fish. They drink beer and schnapps with it. The children get at Christmas in Scandinavia a sweet red Lemonade. In Finland to the ham (joulukinkku) carrots, potatoes or rutabaga served. For appetizers, Finns eat a herring salad with beetroot (rossoli).

Scandinavian christmas - the traditional family celebration

The Julbord: On the Christmas table one finds in Scandinavia much fish and meat, under it also the Christmas ham.

In Denmark, Christmas dinner is more like the German one: There is often a Roast with red cabbage and potatoes. Gladly is eaten here also already at noon sumptuously, which is julefrokost calls. Norwegians prefer ribs with potatoes, sauerkraut and turnips, and various fish dishes at Christmas.

Dessert has a special tradition in Scandinavia: there is often a porridge or also rice pudding, in which an almond is hidden. Whoever finds these in their bowl should be particularly lucky next year or will even be rewarded with a prize. In addition, people like to drink glogg after the meal.

Christmas poems and carols

Scandinavians love to sing. This is especially evident during the Christmas season. Already on the Lucia day much is sung. At Christmas, the classic Christmas carols are sung, which create a particularly beautiful atmosphere.

In Scandinavia one makes julklapp, what one can translate with Wichteln. At the same time, the so-called julklappsrim, what gift rhymes means usual. These are attached to the gifts and are supposed to give the recipient a hint about the contents. Or the children recite poems before giving presents.

Scandinavian Christmas at home

This is how you bring the Scandinavian Christmas traditions home: You can cook and bake the typical dishes and treats at home. There are many Scandinavian Cooking and baking books. You can also enjoy the delicious Glogg drink or even prepare yourself. For still more Scandinavian flair you are missing now only Scandinavian Christmas decoration and a typical Advent wreath as well as beautiful Christmas stories from snowy Scandinavia.

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