First Swedish Christmas in Norrland

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Yesterday I experienced my very first Christmas in Sweden, and what fun it was! I tried new food, ate waaaaayyyy to many cookies, and opened some awesome presents. The best part of it though was spending time with my Swedish family!

Swedish Christmas Breakfast – Rice Porridge

Rice Porridge

I started the morning off with some yummy rice porridge, a Swedish tradition during Christmas time I’m told. We did it the lazy way, meaning we bought it pre-made, heated it in the microwave, added cinnamon and sugar and ate it up! Swedes usually add milk on top of all this but I think that would have been too much milk product for me. And it taste exactly like rice pudding! Very smart though. Pudding is a desert. Porridge is for breakfast. What better way to eat desert for breakfast than by renaming it! Yummy!

Christmas Fika

Swedish Xmas Cookies

The afternoon started off with a fika, of course! This included coffee (yes, I indulged myself in some coffee, which shocked my Swedish family as I am usually more prone to tea), and of course the famous Christmas cookies! Carolina did the baking this year and they were delicious!

Julmust - Swedish Christmas drink

Along with the coffee there was also some Julmust available. This is a soda (carbonated) with an interesting taste that is only available around Christmas time. It is also available around Easter, but it is renamed and repackaged. During these two holidays I’m told CocaCola looses a lot of sales in Sweden.

Christmas Cartoons

Cartoons in Sweden

After we fika-ed, we took part in the next Christmas tradition in Sweden – watching Disney cartoons. I have no idea where the tradition came from. It is a very old Disney cartoon and I’m told it is on TV every year and Swedes of all ages enjoy watching it. Swedes have some obsession in particular with Donal Duck. You can see the comic books in most book shelves of Swedes, and if you don’t, ask your Swedish friend if they ever read Donald Duck. The answer 99% of the time is yes. So perhaps Donald has something to do with this Disney cartoon tradition. In any case, it was interesting to watch an old cartoon I saw in my childhood, in Sweden.

Swedish Christmas Dinner

Swedish Christmas Dinner

After cartoons it was soon time for Christmas dinner! There was tons of food for everyone, but what surprised me most was how much fish was on the table! I know fish is big in Sweden, but I was assuming there would be more ham and meats – not that that was lacking, but the amount of fish still surprised me. 🙂

gravad - fish cured in sugar and salt

Gravad was surprisingly delicious

There was a deviled egg with caviar, caviar with onion, raw fish soaked in sugar and salt for a few days (that was my most favorite) called gravad, that you eat on a cracker with dill and butter, and pickled fish one eats with egg and apple. There was also meatballs (of course), mini hot dogs, lamb, reindeer meat, a veal type mix of everything (I was told), and ham. And along with all this we got one plain baked potato.

All in all dinner was good, and I think we all overate. But it was definitely a unique Christmas dinner for me!

Christmas Presents

Swedish Christmas Tree with PresentsAfter dinner it was time to open Christmas presents! This I think was the same as most cultures – at least it was the same as Czech Christmas and American Christmas. We sat around opening presents and admiring our gifts! One of our gifts did have a rhyme on it, only because the gift was too large to wrap (it was a much needed ironing board). All the others were addressed to the person normally. Carolina and Johan even received some money from distant relatives (something that is just not done in the Czech culture and is all too common in the American one). Gifts were from the practical (socks) to something long wanted (a fishing set for me!) to fun toys you never knew you wanted but were excited to receive (a toy helicopter for Lars).

All in all it was a amazingly fun night and I’m sad it is over – but I have another Swedish Christmas to look forward to next year!

About the author


    Hilary lived two years in Norrland, Sweden (Northern Sweden) and fell in love with the country. She lives in Prague, Czechia and hopes to one day soon return to Sweden.

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