You've heard of Swedish Fish, but what about Swedish Christmas? One thing is for sure: it's not as simple as a single day. As with any culture, there are many traditions that surround the holiday. We're going to explore some of these traditions so you can celebrate a real Swedish Christmas!
The Swedish Christmas Gnome
You may have heard of Swedish Fish, but what about Swedish Christmas? A traditional holiday decoration named Julbocken—which literally translates to “Christmas goat”—is made for the holiday. The gnome is a symbol of Julbord, which is a buffet meal eaten with family and friends on December 24th or 25th.
The creation of this unique character began in 1943 when the Swedish government commissioned artist Carl Milles to create a new design for their Christmas campaign. He presented them with his version of an elf-like creature that he called "Tomten," meaning "the little man." Tomten was designed as a traditional gnome figure dressed in red clothes with a brown leather cap and boots, carrying an axe over one shoulder and holding two fish in his other hand.
Swedish Christmas Foods
Swedish Christmas Cookies
Swedish Christmas Bread
Swedish Christmas Rice Pudding
Swedish Christmas Traditions
The most important Christmas tradition in Sweden, however, has little to do with the tree itself. In fact, that's where it ends: once you're done decorating your tree (and maybe enjoying some Swedish Fish), there's not much else to do with it. There's no need to hang up stockings or deck the halls; Swedish people simply pop into bed and are fast asleep by 11 p.m., waking up at 5 a.m. on December 25th ready for their Christmas morning celebration.
The first thing they'll do upon rising is head down to eat breakfast together as a family—either with hot chocolate or glögg (a mulled wine). Then there will be presents! You might think this sounds like any other gift-giving holiday except for one detail: no one receives gifts from Santa Claus but instead from each other! So rather than being jolly old Saint Nick who brings toys he gets from China via his flying reindeer sleighs or whatever other ridiculous story parents tell their kids about him every year when they should just tell them he doesn't exist so we can all move on with our lives, Swedish children get birthday party-style celebrations where everyone goes around giving each other presents instead of just waiting until December 25th when someone gives them something new without even knowing what they want anyways because how could anyone know what another person wants unless they ask first?
How to Celebrate a Swedish Christmas
Buy a Christmas tree and decorate it with tinsel and ornaments.
Make sure you have a nice festive tablecloth, some candles and other decorations for your party table, like napkins and a centerpiece made from greenery (like pine branches).
If you're planning on having people over for dinner, make sure there are plenty of different dishes so everyone can try something new! Some suggestions include: Swedish meatballs served over mashed potatoes; pickled herring; lingonberries with cream cheese spread on top instead of cream cheese dip (it's just as delicious but less messy); glögg - hot spiced wine that's drunk throughout the holiday season (you could also make mulled cider if you don't have time to simmer red wine all day long); potato pancakes topped off with lingonberry jam instead of applesauce because who doesn't love fried foods?
Celebrating a Swedish Christmas is not only fun, but easy.
Celebrating Swedish Christmas is not only fun, but easy. You can have your own Swedish Christmas at home or you can go to a restaurant and get your fill of Christmas food. The following are some traditional recipes that can help you celebrate in style:
Lefse (potato pancake)
Meatballs with Lingonberry Jam and Gravy
Julbord (Christmas Buffet)
If you want to try something new this year, consider celebrating a Swedish Christmas. It's fun and easy! All you need is some Swedish food and decorations, and maybe a few friends to share it with. And don't worry if you can't find some of the more obscure items on our list; there are plenty of other ways your celebration can be authentic without them!