A Swedish Christmas

How do Swedes celebrate Christmas? Niki Brantmark of interiors blog @MyScandinavianHome interviews her husband about his favourite Christmas traditions.

sno candle

Since moving to Sweden (17 years ago, how crazy is that?!) we try to have two celebrations – one in Sweden on the 23rd and one in England on the 25th. This year things will, unfortunately, be very different. So I thought I’d interview my husband Per about his ideal Swedish Christmas, and some of the traditions he loves the most.

When does Christmas begin for you? 

The First Sunday of Advent – this is when we traditionally jularfram – start to put up Christmas decorations, play Christmas music etc.

What do you love most about this time of year? 

It gets very cold and dark as we near the winter solstice and Swedes tend to gravitate indoors. Christmas gives us a perfect excuse to hang out with friends over a glögg (mulled wine) and pepparkaka (gingersnaps)!

What are your favourite family traditions? 

Every year we head out to the woods to chop down our tree. When I was at school, parents would organise a class trip and we’d all go out together and make a big event out of it. These days I love to continue this tradition with my family. In Sweden, we’re known for being fairly calm and democratic – but when we choose a tree we can become pretty feisty! There are a lot of strong opinions about how a Christmas tree should look!

How do you decorate your home for Christmas? 

I’m married to an interior-crazy woman so I don’t get too much of a say these days (Editor’s note: he so does) – but there are a few things that are important to me. I like to put traditional 7-arm candelabras and paper stars in the window. I also like the Christmas decorations to be cosy but not over the top – us Swedes don’t tend to go all-in – for example, you rarely see colourful flashing Christmas tree lights or a Father Christmas and his sleigh on the roof!

What fragrances do you associate with Christmas in Sweden? 

The fresh scent of pine, orange, cloves, smoke from a crackling log fire, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom all remind me of Christmas.

jul candle

How do Swedes celebrate Christmas Eve?

When guests arrive, candlelit lanterns line the snowy pathway up to the door and a nice, warm mug of homemade glögg (spiced mulled wine) with almond and raisins awaits. At 3pm – for sixty years in a row – Swedes of all ages in almost every home settle down together to watch the 1958 Walt Disney classic, ‘From All of Us To All of You’, affectionately referred to locally as Kalle Anke (we know every scene) before tucking into a magnificent Julbord (Christmas smorgasbord). Magic.

Read more stories from Niki on her blog here

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