One of my favorite schoolgirl memories of Christmas was studying how other countries celebrate Christmas. I envisioned being a Danish child putting my wooden shoes by the fireplace instead of hanging stockings. Or dreaming of one day having a collection of colorful German nutcrackers. Participating in a Mexican Posada to mimic Mary and Joseph’s journey was something I thought would be so fun and memorable. All those dreams in my young mind added a magical element to the holidays. Today I’m focusing on Swedish Christmas decorating and traditions.
I grew up in a Swedish town which is perhaps why I remember that country the most from my childhood learning. On Christmas Eve, Swedes typically attend a church service and then return home for a smorgasbord dinner. At some point during the holiday season, our family would enjoy a buffet style dinner at Karen’s Tea Room and Smorgasbord. The restaurant was located in an older home in Geneva and I always loved going there.
Four Sundays before Christmas, Swedes light the first of four Advent candles while enjoying a mug of glogg (mulled wine).
Swedish Christmas decorating is natural and rustic. You typically won’t see a lot of bling on their trees. A simple wreath on the front door decorates the outside while greens, pine cones, and fruit decorate indoor spaces.
One of my favorite Swedish traditions is handing out presents after dark. I know children always want to unwrap their gifts as soon as they wake up, but I enjoy the anticipation of waiting until the end of the day to exchange presents. Swedes open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Night falls around 2 p.m. so the kiddos don’t have to wait too long.
Swedes like to include paper stars or flowers in their Christmas decorations. A neutral color scheme is quite common, along with a lot of candles due to much shorter days.
And finally, most Swedish decorations and traditions include the presence of a gingerbread house in the home.
I hope you enjoyed this look into Sweden’s celebration of Christmas. It leaves me wanting to visit the country during the holiday season.
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