The Swedish Christmas

Even though I’ve been in Sweden for 15 months, this year was my first time experiencing the Swedish Christmas.  And I was not disappointed!

The first different aspect I notice was the time of the celebration – it was a late lunch (for me, but I’m sure Swedes refer to it as an early dinner ;). So we arrived at my in laws at 12pm to help with the preparations. When it was around 15pm, we then started the traditions: sitting in front of the television to watch….Donald Duck! Yes! He’s actually called Kalle Anka here, where anka means duck, and Kalle as a common name. The funny part is that everyone will say they watch Donald duck, but in reality it’s an special with several Disney cartoons, (some Christmas related) including Donald Duck. So I didn’t really get why he’s the star of the show, but I guess that’s just pure charisma.

When it ended, around 16ish, it was already dark, so I guess it was time for the food! We sat down around the nicely arranged table. Not sure if anyone mentioned this before in this blog, but Swedes are great at making things look beautiful – everything here breaths design and clean, pure, but refined aesthetics. So unlike most other countries, even Christmas here is a breath of beautiful arrangements and colors, without being over the top or tacky.

The first course was mostly….fish. Yes, the clichés are true, the Scandinavians love their fish. Lots of different types of Lax and Sill – which are Salmon and Herring. Not the smelly one though, that’s not common here in the South. Only different types of marinated herring and salmon, with several sauces (Swedes do love their sauces!).  We had different types of bread with butter and homemade knackerbröd as sides, which is a type of crispy bread (such as a cracker) very common here. Also different types of cabbage salad.

After the fish fest, the second course was mainly meat. We had meatballs (Sweden’s favorite) then sausages, ribs with barbecue sauce, Christmas ham with mustard… Plenty of proteins for the entire year of 2016. It was all delicious and, of course, accompanied by shots of Snaps and Julöl, which is basically Christmas beer. There was even a homemade black currant Snaps that was wonderful.

For dessert we had traditional sweet rice with cinnamon, and strawberry sauce. The food experience was then over, and we headed to the gift exchange!

We sat around the tree and distributed the presents without opening them. Then we took turns to try to guess what was inside before opening each present, until they were all opened.

The night was over early, and I was told it is common to go out after the family celebration. Not a bad day at all, in fact it was another cozy and warm celebration, and I was glad I was able to be part of yet another very typical Swedish holiday celebration.

 

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