Christmas in Sweden
Christmas in Sweden is a very special time of the year. It gives people hope in the middle of our dark and depressing Swedish winter.
The stores and shopping centers officialy start decorating for Christmas on the first Sunday of December, although some stores start decorating a long time in advance.
For my family, Christmas start on the first of advent. We light the first candle in the advent candleholder and we put some electric lights in the trees and bushes in our garden.
At this time, people start hoping for the snow to fall. Snow on Christmas day in Sweden is not very common, although sometimes we get lucky.
We celebrate St. Lucia Day on 13 December. In all the schools and offices young people dress in white clothes and, with candles in their hands, go around and sing carols together.
Now, one can feel that Christmas is close. It is time to start buying Christmas presents and it is crowded in all the stores in the days before Christmas.
The Christmas countdown continues with the Christmas Calender on television. It is, every year, a 24 episode series on the television, and every year it tells a new story involving Christmas. One can by a special calendar and follow the series at home and every day a new picture appears behind the piece of paper that one tears off.
Around the weekend before Christmas, we go out to buy a Christmas tree. We let the tree stand outside the house until the day before Christmas when we take it in.
On the 22 and 23 December we concentrate on baking and decorating the house, all the while listening to Christmas carols on the radio and CD.
In the afternoon, me and my sister decorate the tree on the upper floor and my mother decorates the tree on the ground floor.
We gather at the dinner table in the evening and enjoy a little snack of all the Christmas food. In the evening, we watch the television meanwhile making the final preparations.
We go to bed early, and my father goes around the house and hides Christmas presents.
On the morning of 24 December, Christmas has finally come to Sweden. We go around the house and search for the presents father has hidden the day before.
After that, we look at the final episode of the Christmas calendar on the television. Then we eat the special Christmas breakfast with ham, mustard, and a special hard bread which only is sold on Christmas.
After breakfast, we dress up in our fine clothes and go to the churchyard. We put flowers and candles on the graves of our beloved.
We drive home again and eat porridge for lunch.
We then make the final preparations, and wraps the last gifts and also write a short text on the presents that may give a clue to what’s inside.
At three o’ clock all the people in Sweden gather in front of the television and wait for the most popular Christmas personality in Sweden to appear on screen, Arne Weise. He lights his candle just like he always has done and wishes all the people a merry Christmas. Then we all look at Donald Duck and his friends who tell their Christmas stories. Every year it is the same stories, but it is just as fun as always. The program ends with the phrase : “From all of us, to all of you, a merry, merry Christmas”
And now we all dress up and wait for the family and relatives to arrive and we all celebrate. We eat and drink and listen to Christmas carols. And a few hours later it is time for me to make entrance as Santa Claus. I hand out the presents and promise to be back the next year.
When I get back as myself, I act as if I dont know what has happened and we all open our presents. The floor is soon filled with wrapping paper.
Then we have some coffee and gingerbread and make small talk.
The small talk continues and around midninght people start going home. But it won’t be long til we meet again.
The next day we all gather at my grandmother’s house and we eat lunch together and everybody is having a great time.
After we have thanked everybody for the gifts and food and so on, we go home and thereby the Christmas celebration is over for our family.
When Christmas is over, all the stores have sales which continue into January and the stores make BIG money.
As you can see, Christmas in Sweden isn’t that much about Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas. It is much about sharing time with the near and beloved, and it gives all the people hope and happiness and gives them the strength to continue with their everyday lives until summer.