Christmas Eve in Sweden

Swedish name: December 24      Date: December 24
Our main Christmas celebration take place on Christmas Eve in Sweden. Which is why I have chosen to share points during this day that I find are essential for it to be a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve in Sweden
Winter in Rödeby in Sweden 2010, my mums garden.

So we, and by we I mean my aunts, uncles, cousins and so on, start our day with a breakfast consisting of risgrynsgröt - rice pudding with milk. Usually an almond is hidden in the rice pudding and whomever finds it wins something.

At lunch we eat lutfisk - lutefisk with white sauce and boiled potatoes. I do like the sauce and potatoes best in this dish. Lutefisk, well it definitely has a special taste. Actually it is not so much the taste of the lutefisk as it is the texture of it that makes me not want to eat it so much. It tastes a bit like fish jelly... However, because it is a traditional Christmas Eve meal I do place a tiny bit of lutefisk on my plate - to represent.

Christmas Eve in Sweden - Donald Duck
At 3 PM sharp
I, like the majority of households in Sweden, sit my butt down in front of the TV and watch Donald Duck "From All of Us to All of You".

This cartoon hour has become a very important part of a genuine Swedish Christmas Eve. So if you happen to find yourself out and about at this time on Christmas Eve in Sweden, you are probably the only one! The cartoon first aired in Sweden 1960, and believe it or not, has ever since been one of the most watched TV-shows every year in Sweden. In 2009 it was number three on the list over "the most watched TV-shows in Sweden" with 3 294 000 viewers.

After Donald Duck has released us from his spell we usually have our main meal of the day, the Swedish julbord - Christmas buffet.

Christmas in Sweden - Christmas Ham
A must on it is Christmas ham!
To have a Christmas Ham on a Swedish Julbord in Sweden is as important as it is to have turkey on Thanksgiving in America.

Christmas Eve in Sweden Food
Other traditional food on a Swedish julbord are: Swedish meatballs, pickled herring in different sauces, brawn, chipolata sausages, ribs and my favourite, Janssons frestelse - Janssons temptation. Janssons consist of potato casserole with onion, pickled anchovies, bread crumbs and cream. Now these are the most common foods, but there can be as much or as little as you want on a Swedish julbord.

For dessert we usually have warm ostkaka- cheesecake or ris a la malta with fruit sauce. Ris a la malta consists of left over rice pudding mixed with cream.

Popular drinks on Christmas Eve in Sweden are julmust - Christmas root beer, special Christmas beer and dram. I usually drink all at one point or another during the day.

Christmas Eve in Sweden Gifts
After all this food it is finally time to open Christmas gifts! Which looked like this in my family on Christmas Eve of 2010.

Originally, well actually there is not just one source which has led up to the Christmas we celebrate today. But rather Christmas has been transformed into what it is today based on many different celebrations. Like Christianity's celebration of the birth of Jesus, Roman Sun Festival, ancient Scandinavian Christmas celebration and National Romanticism in the 1800s. In fact many of our Christmas traditions are a fusion of old Swedish traditions mixed with elements from other countries.

When we first started to introduce a Christmas gift distributing character he was an imitation of the Swedish gårdstomten - farm elf. However after a while he increasingly began to resemble a merry Saint Nicholas in red clothes. Actually today's Swedish jultomte - Santa Claus is inspired by two traditional Swedish characters. First one is gårdstomten - the farm elf. It was believed that the farm elf attracted luck to your farm as long as you were on good terms with him. During Christmas farmers used to set out a bowl of rice pudding with almond and butter for him to keep him content. And second is julbocken - Christmas goat. He was accounted for much Christmas frolic during the old peasant Sweden.

Regarding the Christmas goat, I just have to tell you about a kind of odd tradition we have here in Sweden. Almost every year, since 1966, during December in the Swedish city of Gävle, a giant Christmas goat is made of straws and put up in the town square. And every year it is set on fire and burnt down. Something everyone knows will happen, but yet it get featured in news and causes outcry each time. Ok, in a sort of sarcastic manner, but still - weird huh?

Some other traditions we have adopted, mainly from Germany, are Christmas trees, Advent candles, Advent calendars, Advent stars and Advent candlesticks. All part of today's traditional Swedish Christmas decorations. And our beloved cartoon, "Donald Duck and all his friends", made its way to our homes from the USA.

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