In Sweden, Christmas is a family affair.
We get together on the 24th just before 3pm for a rather strange tradition: children and adults all gather around the TV to watch the yearly ‘Donald Duck & friends’ program, a compilation of old traditional Walt Disney cartoons, most of them with a Christmas theme.
It is then time to sit down for our typical julbord, a traditional Christmas buffet with anything from herring to meatballs to ‘prince’ sausages to the emblematic Swedish pig (being the equivalent of the British turkey). We sit down for hours, eating, chatting and of course singing, like at any other Swedish festivity! Schnapps is as always part of the drinks menu accompanied by a wide range of Christmas drinking songs.
Round 6pm, if one is lucky, Santa arrives to distribute the presents to all children and adults who have been good through the year. He always makes sure to ask if there any nice kids at home that day! We usually give him a portion of risgrynsgrot as he travels a long way on his sleigh to get to each and everyone. Swedish children are indeed very lucky to meet Tomte, as most other children celebrating Christmas seem to miss him every year, only finding his steps in the snow, a half drunk glass of brandy and half eaten mince pie!
Depending on our religious stands, we then attend the yearly Midnight mass where songs are sung and stories about Jesus are told in a light and festive manner.
Christmas in Sweden is indeed a family affair, it is about spending time with our loved ones. Like the rest of Scandinavia, Sweden is probably one of the places where it is most celebrated, in a very traditional way, tending to stay away from the very religious connotations.