Swedish Christmas – the smorgasbord of smorgasbord

Foto: Pixabay
Christmas is celebrated all around the world, but the customs and the food can differ a lot. Here is a more or less correct description of the Swedish Christmas celebrations.

Well, the food is crazy, even us swedes can admit that. We start with “Dopp-i-grytan”, which is basically soaking a piece of bread in broth (leftover broth from cooking the Christmas ham) and eating it. Pickled herring is a must. There are usually loads of different flavours like, onion, mustard, chili, saffron, or anything else you can come up with. The pickled herring is eaten with potatoes and salmon.

Now it is time for the big plate, small sausages, meatballs, Janssons frestele (gratinated potatoes with cream, onions and anchovies), red cabbage (pickled of course), beetroot salad, devilled eggs, Christmas ham, cheese, bread, and usually a bunch of other stuff. In between meals we usually “fika” and during Christmas we drink glögg and eat gingerbread cookies and saffron bread.

In the evening we eat “Tomtegröt”, which is porridge made from glutinous rice. The tradition is to put an almond in the porridge, and whoever gets it will be married next year.

There are a few things on tv that a lot of us never misses. Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) is always shown at 3 pm and most swedes watch it. Then we have a short movie called “Kan du vissla Johanna”, first aired in Sweden in 1994, adapted from Ulf Stark’s novel with the same name. It is about a boy who goes to a nursing home to find himself a grandpa. And at 7 pm we watch “Karl-Bertil Jonssons julaton”, which is a classic cartoon from 1975, adapted from Tage Danielsson’s short story with the same name. It is about a boy who works at the post office on Christmas eve and steals Christmas presents from the rich people to give to the poor people of Stockholm.

Christmas presents
Well, this can differ quite a lot, but it’s pretty common to exchange the gifts in the afternoon or in the evening. A lot of people do it after Kalle Anka (Donald Duck). And some people do it after Karl-Bertil Jonssons julafton. If you have kids in the family, a member of the family claims to either have to go and buy the newspaper or go to the mailbox to mail a letter. That person dresses up like Santa clause and visits the children and gives them presents.

The Christmas tree
Yes, you heard right, we do dance around the Christmas tree to the happy tunes of Christmas songs. It’s sort of the same idea as when we dance around the May-pole at midsummers. I don’t know what to tell you, it’s a bit weird, but that’s why you love us, right?


This is a news article. Read more about the journalistic work in Karlstads studenttidning here.