Today is the day before the big day. Today is the day before the most important day of the whole Christmas season in Scandinavia. As most of you, non-Scandinavian readers, know Christmas Eve is the BIG day back home. Not Christmas Day. Christmas Day is a day for reflections, reading the book you got for Christmas, just relaxing, playing board games, going on a long walk and eating…
Christmas Eve’s the BIG day! The day when all our dreams should come true, the day when the kids should be just happy and super excited all day long. It is a glorious, glittery day.
Every family has its own traditions. But in my family we always start the day with a good breakfast, a long breakfast. We then get ready for the day. When I was a kid some of my friends would come by with a little Christmas gift in the middle of the day. We drank glögg towards the afternoon and we enjoyed it with pepparkakor (gingersnaps) and saffron buns.
3PM is a magical time on Christmas Eve in Sweden, that is when the whole country sits down to watch “A Disney Christmas” on the television. This is an old tradition from the days back in the fifties when the TV only had one channel. That is when the whole “Donald Duck Christmas tradition” started, and it is still going strong. You can divide Christmas Eve in “before or after Donald Duck” i.e.; are you having Christmas dinner before or after Donald Duck?
While watching Donald Duck, there have to be loads of candles lit, and the Christmas tree and other Christmas lights should be on. You can enjoy some glögg and some chocolate during the show. The show lasts an hour and thereafter we were having our big Christmas dinner.
Santa's workshop (in English)
Christmas dinner in Sweden is a smorgasbord. You’ll start with the pickled herring and boiled potatoes, and you enjoy that with a snaps or two. You’ll also find herring salad on the table. You’ll find so much more on the Swedish Christmas dinner table as well, like; meatballs, ribs, kale, salmon (smoked and gravlax), Brussels sprouts , ham ( a ham is a MUST on a Swedish Christmas table), tiny little sausages called prinskorv (prince sausage), and so much more.
I am so looking forward to tomorrow. We’ll be over at my friend’s Susanna’s for a typical Swedish Christmas Eve dinner. I cannot wait.
With the meal you can drink wine, Christmas beer, julmust (Swedish Christmas soda that some of you have tasted on my annual x-mas party) or Mumma (an old classic Christmas drink which consists of porter beer, beer, port wine and sprite, in my family we usually add some julmust as well). This is a perfect drink that is complementing the heavy dishes on the table.
You are sure to spend a long time sitting by the table enjoying the dinner, and you will also sing a lot of songs.
You’ll end the dinner with ris a la Malta. It is long grained rice, whipped cream and strawberry jam (this dish is not my favorite, but the rest of my family loves it).
After dinner you are as stuffed as can be, but now it is time to make some coffee, have some cake and move from the dining room to the living room. I am telling you, you are stuffed at this point.
In my family we always watch “Karl-Bertil Jonsson’s julafton” on the tube. It is such a good little Christmas story that also is a classic holiday MUST in most Swedish home. Between us; I like Karl-Bertil more than Donald Duck. Karl-Bertil signals Christmas more than Disney does to me.
Karl-Bertil Jonsson (in Swedish)
And around 7 PM the kids, and some adults, are getting a little antsy…
WHERE is THE BIG GUY??? Where is the guy in the red suit?
Yes, in Sweden Santa himself shows up on Christmas Eve. He’ll knock on the door with his sack in tow that is brimming with gifts.
Santa will ask the kids, once he’s entered the house-- Are there any nice children here??
The kids will say yes, and Santa will come into your living room. He’ll sit down and he will hand out all the gifts. Be sure to be nice to the old man. Maybe even offer him a whiskey before he leaves. He has a long, cold night ahead.
Santa will say his good-bye and strangely enough that is when my brother gets back from the store. He misses Santa every year. I wonder what’s up with that? Yes, Santa is a must on Christmas Eve in Sweden.
In my family, we have the tradition that we open one gift at the time, even the kids. I hate it when kids just rip the gifts without even seeing what they are getting. It is better to do one gift at the time. It takes time, but it only adds to the fun.
Why rush thru the opening of the gifts? That makes zero sense to me.
When that is over with, the adults will sit back, drink drinks and chat. Often we play a board game together and then later at night we might take a walk. Sometimes we go the midnight mass at church, and that is lovely!! It is SO beautiful, such wonderful music, so wonderful to sing your heart out. Some families have the tradition to go to church early Christmas Day morning instead to the so called Julotta. That service starts at 7 AM, sometimes earlier. I prefer the midnight mass since it is somewhat of a pain to rise early on Christmas Day morning. Christmas (and Easter and the first of Advent) is when the Swedes go to church, in Sweden so few people are religious (including myself), but at Christmas we go to church. Somewhat hypocritical maybe…I am very well aware of that.
So, this is how we celebrate Christmas in my family. When Peter and I are in Sweden we always cook a traditional American Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, and that is VERY appreciated and FUN for all of us.
But tomorrow is Christmas Eve---And that is the loveliest of days!
I've made my very own glögg. If I find the time I'll post the recepie later on today (now it is midnight, and I am SOOO sleepy).
Have a wonderful Day before the Day today!