When it comes to Christmas, Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia are the kings! The period of Advent in Sweden is a joyous time to celebrate with friends and family. Festive lights, markets and paper stars brighten up the dark, cold nights and set the mood for the festive season ahead.
Written by William Mansell
The lighting of a candle on the fourth Sunday before Christmas marks the start of Advent. From 1st December a new door on an advent calendar is opened revealing a picture or chocolate.
The Swedes, ever the forerunners of life have taken this concept to a new level. Julkalendern (The Christmas Calendar) is a TV special produced every year. Split into 24 parts, lasting 10-15mins per episode, the story is slowly unravelled day by day like a traditional calendar. Since 1960, a whole library of tales have been told from pirates & superheroes to time travel & Santa.
The 2021 edition: En hederlig jul med Knyckertz (A normal Christmas with Knyckertz) follows the story of 11yr old Tove who wants to celebrate a normal Christmas despite his family being petty criminals. Watch Here
On the 13th December, the festival of Saint Lucia is celebrated .The day is observed with public processions of school boys and girls dressed in white robes. Boys are called ‘Starboys’ and typically wear a conical hat adorned with stars while girls wear a wreath crown. One chosen girl gets the special honour of portraying Lucia. She leads the procession and singing whilst wearing a candle lit wreath, lighting the way.
Made of straw, Gävlebocken is a giant version of a Swedish Yule goat. Erected every year at the beginning of Advent in the city of Gävle, north of Stockholm. This delightful display first created in 1966, while quiet in nature has become the talk of the town due to its unfortunate survival track record. Out of a possible 54, the goat has only managed to survive arson attacks 18 times. The past 4 years has been it’s best survival period in history! Can 2021 see Gävlebocken stick out the Christmas season for another consecutive year?
Mat & Dryck
Advent in Sweden would not be complete without food & drink! Glögg parties are popular excuses for seeing friends and family. Filled with Pepparkakor (gingerbread) Lussebullar (saffron buns) & mulled wine, their spiced aromas synonymous with Christmas set the mood perfectly.
Enjoyed throughout Advent and especially on Saint Lucia day, Lussebullar or Lucia buns are go to treats. If you are in Stockholm, why not visit the wonderful annual gingerbread exhibition at ArkDes?!
Julmust, a soft drink similar to root beer & cola is a favoured beverage the Swedes love to consume during Advent. Only sold at this time of year, the drink is so popular, it outsells Coca-Cola by 50%
The Julbord or Christmas table is a smörgåsbord of Swedish foods. Several courses of small plates make up the buffet style meal. Foods include: different fishes, pickled herring, cold meats, Christmas ham, sausages, potatoes & of course meatballs! Traditionally served on Julafton (Christmas Eve), many restaurants also offer the julbord throughout December.
Find out more about how Sweden Celebrates Christmas here.
- Jul – Christmas
- God Jul – Happy Christmas
- Julafton – Christmas Eve
- Tomten – Santa
- Snö – Snow
- Stjärna – Star
- Ljus – Light/candle
- Julgran – Christmas tree
- Julklapp – Christmas present
What is your favourite part of Christmas? Will you be spending Advent in Sweden? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author
I’m a wannabie Swede, currently living in the UK, hoping to soon call Sweden home! A designer, creator and all-round Swedish fan, I am highly interested in the culture, music, design, nature & of course Fika! When I’m not travelling, I also love to watch Scandi noirs, listen to Swedish music & I watch Melodifestivalen every year! These have all helped me to develop my Swedish language skills!