Christmas in Sweden

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In Sweden electric candles and glowing stars are placed in almost every window in every house throughout December. As with most of it surrounding countries Christmas is celebrated on the December 24th which to the western world is classed Christmas eve.

They believe in a small house ‘elf’ known as ‘Jultomte/ Tomte’ that helps protect the house, when they sit down for their meal they leave a bowl of porridge for Jultomte in order for him to protect for the upcoming year.

The modern day version on the Tomte is seen as Santa Claus, wearing red clothing with a white beard, however he does not come down the chimney as believed in the western world, he knocks on the door and asks "finns det några snälla barn här?" (Are there any good children here?)

As with almost all countries food is an important thing around Christmas, with Christmas dinners being mostly made up of Ham with many other plates including small meatballs, pickled herring, spareribs, small hot dogs, lutfisk, pork sausage, salmon, potato casserole with anchovy, and rice pudding, which are usually washed down with mulled wine, beer or snaps.

The dinners usually vary a little in different parts of Sweden. It was is almost known for employers to take employees out or cook for them on the run up to Christmas, lots of people also go out for meals a lot more.A lot of sweets, candy and treats are eaten around Christmas, the most popular being marzipan, toffee, nuts, fruits, etc.

Television is very important around the holidays, with many people watching and waiting for the ‘Disney Christmas special’ and ‘Karl Bertil Jonssons julafton’ (cartoon) to be aired to get into the Christmas spirit.

After dinner the gifts are given, which have been kept under the tree or piled up. Many Swedish people still follow the tradition that a rhyme or verse is to be on the wrapping paper hinting but not telling as to the present inside.

In the past the Swedes believed in the ‘Yule Goat’ and they still symbolize this with models and figurines ranging from 10cm to life-size straw models that are often vandalized or burnt. If someone has two families they wish to celebrate with they, a lot of the time, move one of the events to Christmas Day or the 23rd which is commonly known as ‘little Christmas eve’.

Christmas Eve is usually the last day that hosts Christmas celebrations, although officially the Christmas period doesn’t end till the 20th day of Christmas (January 13th) known as Knutdagen.
And early morning church service is held on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing Day but they have no significance to Swedish celebrations.