Christmas in Sweden
Christmas in Sweden

Flavors of Sweden

Christmas in Sweden
In Sweden, the festive season begins on December 13, long before sunrise. Early in the morning of the 13th, considered here to be the longest night of the year, a young girl - generally the eldest daughter of the household - gets up, dresses in white and dons a crown of lighted candles. She awakens her family with a song about winter's darkness and the light that is about to return, and then serves them coffee and delicious saffron-flavoured Lucia buns. This is the feast of St. Lucia, the bearer of light, which marks the beginning of the Christmas period.

 The approach of Christmas is heralded by Advent stars and seven-branched Christmas candlesticks placed prominently on windowsills, decorated with moss and lingonberry sprigs (lingonberry sauce, with its superb sweet and sour flavour, is a typical Swedish delicacy, served with turkey, game and meat.)

"The high point of Christmas in Sweden is our Christmas buffet - a smörgåsbord - that is called Julbord during Christmas time - of traditional delicacies, both hot and cold, with an extra festive flair for Christmas Eve". The feast will undoubtedly include pickled herring with various sauces, beet salad, salmon, meat balls with onion, sausage, liver pâté and other seasonal dishes such as braised red cabbage. The centerpiece of the buffet is always a magnificent ham, and among the desserts you will find an orange-flavoured rice pudding.

Christmas in Sweden 1

"The most common of Swedish Christmas traditions", explains Per Nilsson of Leijontornet & Victory Hotel "is a hot drink called Glögg, a potent mulled wine flavoured with sugar and spices and served in the days leading up to Christmas. Glögg is an alcoholic drink, best drunk hot, which is served with raisins and peeled almonds, and of course with gingerbread cookies. We drink Glögg only at Christmas.

How to do it like a local
Christmas in Sweden 2

Start with the pickled herring, move on to the cold meats, pates and reindeer sausage, then the hot dishes including the heavenly Janssons Frestelse (creamed potato, onion and pickled sprat dish), hot meat stews, cheeses and sweets. A die-hard, always-on-the-menu-but-seldom-ordered Julbord traditional food is lutfisk (ling fish). It is a simply seasoned ‘husmanskost’ (home cooking style) speciality stemming from hard times when fish was preserved via drying and then soaked before cooking.


In Sweden it is custom to celebrate Christmas on December 24th, on Christmas Eve (julafton). ´Julaftonen´ (The Christmas Eve) painted by the Swede Carl Larsson 1904-05.

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