Top 10 most important things to know to survive Swedish Christmas by Steven Karwoski

advent candles in pig shaped ornament

# 1 Light your Advent Candles.

One of the top unspoken rules of Swedish Christmas is Advent Candles should be lit and displayed on the every Sunday of Advent or else risk ‘Swedish Cultural SWAT Team repelling into your home on tinsel’. see my previous post for more details!

advent candles

Note: The advent candleholder should not be confused with this mandatory triangular shaped electric candle holder which every Swede puts in their windows or else.

#2 Whites lights only please.

AKA Sweden’s Aryan Lights of Christmas Policy White color lights are preferred for Christmas window displays. There is a method to the blandness, the white lights blow out the depression causing winter darkness. See my previous post: ‘I’ve seen homes with multicolored electric lights once or twice. This lasted a day or two then I never saw these people again’

Christmas stars

# 3 Hang a big star in your window.

Not as mandatory as Advent candles but everyone is doing it so you should too! The large illuminated Star! This large, cardboard or plastic star, imported from the German Moravian Church in the 1930’s remains a Swedish holiday standard. ( available at IKEA) Commemorating the star the three wise men followed to Bethlehem, Swedes hang this ornament in the window and illuminate it with white light bulbs naturally.

man cleaning window

# 4 Clean you windows last day of November.

Your windows should be sparkling clean by the end of November or else how will anyone be sure you lit your advent candles.

advent calendar on 24th

# 5 Christmas is not celebrated on December 25, but rather on December 24.

The 25th is a free floating do anything you want day or a double down and do it all again day. Either way you get the day off and most shops are closed.

Santa Mask

# 6 Santa wears a mask.

In Sweden someone showing up on the doorstep on Christmas Eve wearing a cheap Santa Claus mask will be welcomed in the home, fed and given whiskey. Costume expectations are low in Sweden when it comes to Santa. However if you show up wearing a store bought high-end Santa outfit the children will buy into it, but most importantly if show up wearing a cheap Santa mask that only convenient store hold up men would wear, you will indeed be perceived as Santa.

raw pickled herring

# 7 You do not have to eat the pickled herring!

No one else really likes it either. Honesty is a core to Swedish culture but Swedes do enjoy fibbing to new comers insisting that everyone eats and enjoys herring during Christmas dinner. Not true! Few eat it and less enjoy it but it is a right of passage for the newbies. It’s like asking the new office intern to get a bucket of steam to clean the copy machine only crueler. There is a reason you are offered a shot of vodka with it!

mulled wine

# 8 Mulled wine is served in small coffee cups.

Glögg or mulled wine is taken in small douses usually tiny espresso size cups. If someone tries to serve you Glögg in large coffee cups call the authorities.

swedish julmust Christmas soft drink

#9 Jul Must is Christmas soda.

It’s a Swedish thing you wouldn’t understand. It’s a unique blend of battery acid tasting coke-like soda available only during Christmas or Easter when it is repacked as Easter Must

santa lucia procession

# 10 Please no Angels in the Santa Lucia Procession

Celebrated on December 13th, Santa Lucia, officially it is not a religious oriented tradition. A procession of children dressed in culturally mandated costumes march, sing and bring light into the darkness. Remember even though it features a martyred Catholic Saint, is celebrated in churches and occurs close to Christmas Angels nor Jesus have nothing to do with Santa Lucia and Santa Lucia has nothing to do with Christmas. See previous post

Comments ( 1 )
  • roisin

    Have taken all that in. Very taken by the light up stars from IKEA. Aisling works around the corner from the store. Christmas soda sounds like fun.

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