Celebrating Christmas in Sweden is like finding yourself in a magical place, filled with decorated Christmas trees, festive spirit, amazing Christmas markets and traditional Swedish celebrations, both indoors and outdoors. Truly, with nearly five million Christmas lights only in Liseberg, Stockholm you can’t expect anything less than a brilliant holiday!
Christmas celebration in Sweden begins with Advent – the await for the arrival of Jesus, and lasts almost two months. Advent announces the ecclesiastical year, also marking the start of Christmas festivities in Sweden. At home, Swedes light one candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, in special four-pronged candelabra, as well as many decorate their homes, hanging luminous stars of paper, straw or perforated metal in their windows.
Celebrated on December 13th, Sweden’s Lucia Festival is a 400-year old tradition of the ‘queen of light,’ St. Lucia, which is accompanied by numerous church concerts and processions. According to the tradition, on the feast day the eldest daughter in each family pretends to be St. Lucia, dressing in a white robe with a red sash, and wearing an evergreen wreath with seven lighted candles on her head. She wakes her family members and serves them with coffee and Lucia bans. Boys take part as star boys, or ginger cookie characters, wearing long white shirts and pointed hats.
Swedish Julafton, or Christmas Eve dinner (on December 24th) is also very important in Sweden, as this is when the main meal (or smorgasbord) is eaten usually together with family or friends. Delicious dishes serve to make the occasion more enjoyable. Among the traditional dishes are: Christmas ham, meatballs, little sausages, stockfish, pickled herring, various kinds of cheese and rye bread, while the dessert includes a rice pudding, known as ‘risgryngrot’ in which an almond is hidden. And the person to find the almond is said to be the next to marry in the next year. Drinks usually served with these dishes include julmust, Christmas beer or snaps.
On Christmas Eve, after the dinner, a family member or a friend dresses up a certain Christmas gnome, known as the tomte, and carries a sack over his shoulder, containing many wonderful gifts and gives them to family members.
On January 13th the Christmas celebrations come to an end and all decorations are removed.
Xmas markets in Sweden are popular with both locals and tourists and highlight many Swedish Christmas customs. You can find many shops selling gorgeous handicrafts, Christmas presents and sweets. The Liseberg Christmas Market which takes place in Gothenburg is reputed to be the largest in Sweden with more than 70 rustic market stalls selling arts and crafts, as well as festive food and an open air ice rink nearby.
Get a flavor of Christmas in Sweden by visiting one of the traditional markets held in quaint towns across the region. Be sure to revel in the seasonal spirit by warming yourself with a glass of spicy mulled wine (glögg) and indulging in scrumptious festive food.
Christmas in Santa World
In central Sweden, deep in the heart of Dalarna, one can find the fascinating Santa World. This is where you can meet Santa’s famous reindeer, visit Santa’s workshop and see the little Christmas present storage. To personally give your wish list to Santa, make sure to visit Santa’s house.
There is no greater time to be in Sweden than Christmas time, because it’s during this time when Sweden is at its warmest. Sweden beckons travelers seeking superb shopping opportunities, culinary delicacies and lots of Christmas fun, offering a cozy atmosphere oozing with yuletide spirit and magical experiences.