The Christmas season in Sweden is a festive affair. Most people travel to be with their family and friends and enjoy good food together. There are many unique traditions to be found during this holiday season.
One of the most famous traditions would be the representation of swedish tomte, often used as Christmas decorations. They can also be called nisse. They are small mythological figures that have long white beards and wear conical hats- you might say they bear a striking resemblance to a gnome. They are thought to be the guardians of the home and hearth. Many stories about tomte exist in Swedish folklore and literature, as well.
In addition to the familiar sight of ham, sausage and potatoes in a Christmas smorgasbord, there are some uniquely Swedish offerings, as well. One of these is something called gubbröra- an egg and anchovy salad usually served on toast. Fish dishes are common in this coastal country. Caviar, dill, chives and parsley are also included in the recipe. The name itself means “old man’s mix”.
St. Lucia’s Day
For the Swedish, there is an extra day of celebration during the Christmas season. December 13th is known as St. Lucia’s day, a Christian holiday celebrating a martyred girl who brought food to the persecuted Christians in Rome in 304 BC. It is thought that this holiday came about because of the stories monks told when they first brought Christianity to Sweden. Children dress up as Lucia in a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles.
If you are curious about Christmas in other cultures, Sweden is a fun place to start looking. Make sure you know what you are getting into if you ever decide to visit there for the holidays. As they say in Scandinavia- “God jul”!