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Christmas in Sweden: A Cozy and Heartwarming Celebration

Discover the Heartwarming Holiday Festivities in the Land of the Midnight Sun

Sweden is renowned for its picturesque snowy landscapes and festive atmosphere during the Christmas season. Steeped in tradition, the Swedish Christmas, or “Jul,” is celebrated with warmth and enthusiasm, making it an unforgettable experience for locals and visitors alike. In this article, we’ll delve into the unique customs, flavors, and folklore that make Christmas in Sweden truly special.


Advent: The Countdown to Christmas

The Swedish Christmas season begins with Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. An Advent calendar, often homemade, is used to count down the days. On each Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit in a special Adventsljusstake, an electric candelabra with seven candles. By the fourth Sunday, all candles are lit, signifying that Christmas is near.


St. Lucia’s Day: A Festival of Light

St. Lucia’s Day, on December 13th, is one of Sweden’s most beloved traditions. On this day, towns and cities across the country host Lucia processions. The chosen “Lucia,” usually a young girl, dons a white gown and a crown of candles, while her attendants, dressed similarly, but without the candles, follow her. Together, they sing traditional Lucia songs, bringing light and warmth to the darkest time of the year.


Swedish Christmas Decorations

Swedish homes are adorned with various decorations during the Christmas season. A popular symbol is the “Julbock,” or Yule Goat, typically made of straw and bound with red ribbons. Another essential decoration is the “Tomte,” a gnome-like figure believed to protect homes and bring good luck. Window displays often feature paper stars and electric candlesticks, giving the streets a warm and festive glow.


Swedish Christmas Foods

No Swedish Christmas is complete without a traditional “Julbord,” a Christmas smorgasbord. The feast typically includes dishes such as pickled herring, gravlax (cured salmon), meatballs, “prinskorv” (small sausages), and “lussekatter” (saffron buns). To wash it all down, Swedes enjoy “glögg,” a warm, spiced mulled wine.


Gift Giving and Santa Claus

The “Jultomte,” a friendly gnome-like figure, is the Swedish equivalent of Santa Claus. Instead of delivering gifts in a sleigh, the Jultomte is often depicted riding a Julbock. Gift-giving usually takes place on Christmas Eve, and children may leave a bowl of porridge out for the Jultomte as a thank you.


Traditional Christmas Eve

In Sweden, Christmas Eve is the main event. Families attend a church service, often the “Julotta” service at dawn, where traditional hymns and carols are sung. Later in the day, they gather for the “Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul,” or “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas,” a beloved television special that has aired since 1959. The evening culminates in the much-anticipated Julbord, where families come together to share a festive meal.


Christmas Day and Beyond

Christmas Day in Sweden is a quieter affair, with families enjoying a relaxing day together, playing games, and savoring the leftovers from the previous night’s feast. In the days that follow, Swedes celebrate “Annandag Jul,” or Boxing Day, and later, “Trettondedag Jul,” or Epiphany, on January 6th. Both of these holidays are public holidays in Sweden, allowing people to unwind and enjoy the festive season.


Swedish Christmas Folklore

Swedish Christmas folklore is rich and varied, with tales of magical creatures and supernatural beings. One such creature is the “Tomte,” a small gnome-like figure who is believed to protect homes and bring good fortune. According to legend, the Tomte would become mischievous if not treated well, so it was customary to leave a bowl of porridge out for them as a gesture of goodwill. Another popular figure is the “Julbock,” a Yule Goat that was once thought to ward off evil spirits during the Christmas season.



Christmas in Sweden is a unique blend of age-old customs, heartwarming traditions, and delicious foods. The combination of cozy decorations, enchanting folklore, and the welcoming warmth of Swedish hospitality make it a truly magical time of year. Whether you’re visiting Sweden during the Christmas season or simply want to incorporate some of these customs into your own celebration, the spirit of Swedish Christmas is sure to bring joy and warmth to all who partake in its festivities.



What is the Swedish name for Christmas?

In Sweden, Christmas is called “Jul” (pronounced “Yule”).


What are some traditional Swedish Christmas foods?

A traditional Swedish Christmas table, or “Julbord,” includes dishes such as pickled herring, gravlax, meatballs, prinskorv, and lussekatter. Glögg, a warm spiced mulled wine, is also a popular beverage during the Christmas season.


What is the Swedish version of Santa Claus?

The “Jultomte” is the Swedish equivalent of Santa Claus. This friendly gnome-like figure brings gifts to children and is often depicted riding a Yule Goat, or “Julbock.”

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