Swedish Holiday Traditions

Picture this, it’s 35 degrees outside, the sun is shining, you’re on the beach along with the rest of your family. The beach is packed, there are families everywhere playing beach cricket, throwing a ball around and swimming in the ocean. It’s Christmas Day. This is Christmas in Australia. This is how I know Christmas.

Christmas time in Sweden was something else. As the days start to get darker, the Christmas lights get put up all through Lund. I really enjoyed walking around the city with these lights all around. At the end of November, the Christmas trees go up in the city and everyone gathers for the first time the lights are switched on. It’s pretty special.

December 13th is St Lucia Day and all throughout Sweden, in schools, churches and workplaces, children sing Lucia songs. The child playing Lucia herself wears a wreath of candles (sometimes with real flames and sometimes with fake flames) on her head for the duration of the procession. It is a really sweet tradition.

Pepparkakor are the Swedish version of Gingerbread biscuits. They are delicious as they are quite thin so once you get started with them, it’s quite hard to stop. My friends and I spent an evening baking our own pepparkakor and followed it up with a taco night.

Saffronbulle are another Christmas specialty in Sweden. These yellow buns are supposedly shaped into Lucia cats which can be quite hard to see but they are worth trying.

Glögg is another Swedish Christmas specialty. It is a spiced mulled red wine that is served with almonds and raisins. There is also glögg for children which is normally made with blackberry juice or something similar. To be honest, the zero alcohol glögg is my favourite. Remember the almonds and raisins!

Christmas time (Jul tid) is also a time where people put lights in their windows. Often you will see the advent candles and a star lit up in the windows of almost every building.

After New Years, the days are starting to get longer, at first slowly and then all at once. After Valentines day (Alla hjärtans dag), Easter time rolls around and everyone is getting ready for spring.

Semla is a cardamom flavoured bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream. They are everywhere in Sweden from Valentines day through to Easter Day (Påsk).

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