Christmas and New Year's Eve in Sweden
Season's Greetings — find out how Swedes celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve: Christmas trees, lots of food, Santa, fireworks and more.
After nearly a month of waiting, Christmas Eve finally arrives — the height of the celebration in Sweden. Work is at an end, schoolchildren are on holiday and the Christmas preparations are complete.
December is here. If we are lucky, snow has fallen to brighten up the quickly darkening nights, creating that special Christmas feeling. At Christmas, we bring out our hand-crafted decorations, fill our homes with candlelight, and go back to our grandmother’s recipes to bake ginger snaps and saffron buns.
by Po Tidholm
The Swedish New Year often coincides with a bout of ice-cold weather. Temperatures, which tend to hover frustratingly around freezing point over Christmas, at least in the south, gradually drop, and by midnight you can see shivering Swedes, up to their knees in heavy snow, toasting one another in champagne and firing off rockets.
While for most people in Sweden Christmas means a traditional feast followed by the tearing open of presents, hundreds will instead be sharing their time and festive cheer with a group who have a more basic but urgent wish list — the homeless.
The Swedes are wholly into Christmas traditions but less so the holy origins of them. Yet, Saint Lucia, the star of Bethlehem, Advent candles and even the church remain sacred to the secular Swedes in December.
A Christmas tree journeys from a Swedish forest, with a brief decorated stop in the living room, to one of many energy-generating furnaces. In Sweden, people are warmed up by their trees before, during and after Christmas.
There is a smell of Christmas ham and freshly baked saffron rolls in Sweden. Everyone is waiting for Santa Claus – well, maybe not everyone. In some houses, Santa Claus is not the big star and Christmas is spiced up with influences from other countries.