Swedes love having lots of lights on during the long winter evenings. And they don’t only use the electrical lights (see previous tip), but also lots of real candles. I saw a stand with these traditional shaped candles at the Christmas market in Hedlandet. These are handmade candles from Gränsö Slotts Ljusstöperi, and their candles are world famous in the whole of Sweden ;-) They have been making these candles for several hundred years and you can see here some traditional shapes. The on the right for example is of the 18th century.
When I started this page I was promised to taste some lussebulla as it is something that goes with the Swedish Christmas tradition and I am told that it tastes great. I was even promised fresh home-baked lussebulla!!!! Arghhh, but I had none :-(( Hehehe, I think I will have to complain at the cook for that, lol. Oh well, Christmas isn't over yet, so I might get some at the last minute:-))) Lussebulla or lussekatt (Lucia Buns) are saffron yeast buns with raisins. Here is a link to the recipe if you would like to make them yourself : http://www.swedishkitchen.com/lussekat.html
It's now 2 years later, hahaha, and I finally had my lussebulla :-) And it tastes good! So if you are here around Christmas time give them a try :-)
It's late November and the early signs of Christmas are here in Sweden. I've just been to the biggest Christmas market of Sweden, here at Taxinge Slott. And I have to say it works contagious, I am already getting into the Christmas spirit. For most people, the preparations for Christmas begin at late November or early December and one of the first things that are proof of that is the Glögg. My absolute favorite Glögg of this year is the Blossas Glögg 2003. It is a stronger type of glögg with 15% alcohol and it tastes delicious. The way to drink the glögg is warm, in a small (but not too small) glass. In the glögg you put some raisins and almonds, mmmmm. You can buy the glögg at the systembolaget (the Swedish liquor store).
Mmmm, I just tasted some of the homemade glögg right now and I must admit that it tastes fantastic as well. Hahaha, it is hard to choose between the two. Glögg is made of sweet red one and herbs. We bought a little bag of herbs - ginger, cloves and cinnamon - at the Christmas market, mixed it through the wine, hahaha, of course added some 'secret ingredients', and let it rest for a couple of days. The result is delicious!
So while sipping on my nice glass of glögg I will try to tell you something about the Swedish Christmas traditions. The Swedish Christmas traditions are so unlike the typical Christmas that I expected : It's a day early, there is fish instead of turkey on the dinner table and a Jultomte (Christmas gnome) instead of a Santa (like in the Coca-Cola advertising saying HoHoHo) is bringing the presents. So as you can see this was quite a culture shock for me ;-)) So please take a glass of glögg yourself and enjoy reading this Swedish style Christmas page.
Besides the food and drink there has to be some candy as well during Christmas. Typical Julgodis (Christmas candy) are chocolate, marzipan and knäck (a sort of toffee, butterscotsh). I saw this fun big marzipan pig at the Christmas market in Taxinge.
After having talked so much about the food, now it's time to say something about the drinks. And let me start with the Julöl, or Christmas beer in English. As there are so many different and strong tastes in the food at the Julbord, it's best to have something like a beer to the food instead of wine. So the Christmas beer is what is often served. This beer is generally has a little bit more flavour, is sweeter and darker in colour.
Besides the beer there is also a glass of snaps to toast with. (see the tip about sill, hahaha, can't eat sill without having snaps!).
For kids and the ones that would like to have a non-alcoholic drink there is the Julmust. Julmust is a soda, tasting a bit like coke, and you can only buy it during the Christmas period.
risgrynsgröt, creamy rice pudding. A single almond is hidden in the pudding serving dish; according to an old Swedish folk belief, whoever finds the almond in his or her portion will be wed during the coming year.
I found this recipe for Risgrynsgröt on the internet for you :
Recipe : (Serves 4 to 6) Preparation Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Resting Time: One hour
* 3 cups water * 1 and 1/2 cups arborio or other short-grained rice * 2 and 1/2 cups whole milk * 1/2 cup heavy cream * 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional * 1 Tablespoon brown or raw sugar
Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add rice. Stir once, cover. Turn heat down to lowest setting and simmer 20 minutes without removing cover. When rice is done, stir in the milk and cream over low heat, adding more liquid if necessary to reach creamy consistency. Remove from heat. Let rest for about an hour, preferably on a thick wooden cutting board. Pour into serving bowl, sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar in a cross-hatch pattern on top, serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.
The centre piece of the Julbord is the Julskinka, the Christmas ham, which takes days to prepare if you do it from scratch. Hahaha, or of course you take the alternative; buy it ready made ;-) That is what we did anyway, it's so easy and it tasted great! The day before Christmas Eve, we put the finished touches on the ham, and after that we had a ham sandwich. Mmm, it tasted good! The ham is huge though, so more than plenty left for the Julbord and many ham sandwiches after that :-)
I mentioned lots of dishes for the Julbord in the previous tip, but the sill is an absolute must! The Christmas smorgasbord, like all smorgasbords, begins with fish, especially herring called sill in Swedish. Herring in cream sauce, herring in dill, herring in mustard sauce, herring in sherry, herring that is first fried and then pickled, etc, etc. So many varieties to choose from! I like the more simple ones like the dillsill (pickled herring with dill). Accompanying the herring are boiled potatoes and knackebröd. And of course a glass of snaps! That's because according to the Swedish you can't eat sill without having a toast with snaps. Hahaha, a tradition I have to admit, I am getting used to :-))
Thinking of a Turkey dinner for Christmas in Sweden? Better forget about that! The Swedish Julbord serves some unusual Christmas dishes (for me anyway), but I have to admit that I am starting to like the Swedish tradition. The Christmas smorgasbord (Christmas dinner) is a version of the smorgasbord served during other festive days. The Julbord (like all smorgasbord) is a kind of buffet with all different types of dishes. So there is plenty to choose from for everyone! The great part is that it doesn't involve a lot of work to make on Christmas itself, lots of it can be prepared up front. I really loved that as it makes the Christmas celebrations more relaxed for everyone, hahaha, so the cook has time to enjoy Christmas as well ;-) Some dishes you can expect on the julbord are: ham, several types of sill, sillsallad, salmon prepared in different ways like rökt (smoked) and gravad (marinated), lutfisk (a dish made of dried stockfish), Jansons frestelse (anchovis and potatoes dish), boiled potatoes, several types of vegetables, Köttbullar (Swedish meat balls), pate, several types of cheese like Dutch Gouda and Edamer. And many many more that you can choose from. Hahaha, too many for me to remember ;-)
Aaaaah, finally it is time to open the presents! :-)))) After watching the cartoons and before dinner starts, it is an ideal time to open up the presents. Hahaha, do I look happy? Yess! The Jultomte has been good to me this year :-)))
Okay, it's 3 o'clock! Disney time! Hahaha, I think it's a funny tradition, but everyone sits in front of the television in Sweden on the 24th to watch the Disney cartoons. It has been a tradition since approximately 1957 that Donald Duck and his Disney friends are wishing you a happy chrismas. So that's what I did too. Had a nice drink and watched the Disney cartoons :-)) This is a picture taken from my television screen while I watching the cartoons. Hahaha, I guess you can call me crazy to make pictures of that just for the purpose to post them here on VT ;-))
In Sweden they don't know the American-type santa. They have their own santa-figure: the Jultomte (Christmas tomte). The Jultomte is a cheerful gnome who is the one that brings the Christmas presents. Here you can see some little ornaments of funny looking jultomtar. The Jultomte has its origin in the Hustomte (house gnome). In Sweden they believed in the tomte gnomes long before the Jultomte was invented as a tradition. The word tomt means lot or grounds, and the tomte is the gnome that takes care of the houses and the lot. He is a grumpy little figure, hardly ever seen, but always believed to be around. He made sure that the owner looked after his property; you didn't want to annoy him! So you made sure you took care of your house, your livestock and property. And if you did that, the tomte would be pleased and help you to take care of it as well.
When the Santaclaus tradition came to Sweden, the name of tomte was used for the Jultomte (Christmas tomte). It's rather logical in a way to make the tomte the symbol of the Swedish Santa Claus. The tomte has a long beard and a red cap, so in a way looks like Santa. The red cap was a very common hat for farmers in Sweden in the old days, so of course tomte wore one as well. The good thing about the Jultomte is that he is a totally different in character than the tomte. He is not the grumpy old gnome like the tomte, but a cheerful character and a well seen guest during the Christmas time :-)
Aaah, a white Christmas! Something I always dream of, hahaha, but hardly ever have. But I hoped this year I would be in luck and enjoy a nice layer of snow. And my wish came true, I had lots and lots of snow :-))) The chances of having a white Christmas in Sweden is quite good.... at least in the area where I live. So it looks like I will enjoy many more white Christmas's in the future! This is a view over my back garden, all covered in the wonderful white fluffy stuff called snow :-)
Candle lights in all the windows, I don't think there is a house without them!! Hahaha, almost anyway ;-)) I know this lights from The Netherlands, they were quite common there as well. But in Sweden they are just everywhere! I have to admit that I never liked them that much, but with every window filled with these lights I have to say that it looks picturesque. Even offices take the effort to put a light like this in all the windows. I can imagine that the Swedes take so much effort to put lights everywhere. The days are short, the night is long. The sun gets up at 9 o'clock in the morning and sets already at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
A saying I like lot since I live in Sweden is :
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
24th December : Christmas time! Not the 25th and 26th are the most important days for Swedes, but the 24th is the 'real' Christmas day! For me that is something to get used to, as I never considered the day of 'Christmas Eve' part of Christmas. That has never been a tradition for me. Hahaha, the 25th was the day to look out for! But I guess I am having Christmas a day early now :-))) Like a lot of other Swedes I visited the family in the morning, had a skinkmacka (ham sandwich) for lunch. Went home just in time to see the 3 o'clock Disney Cartoons, opened the presents and enjoyed the Julbord (Christmas dinner). More about all this in the next view tips!