Christmas in Sweden

How do I wish someone there a Happy Christmas?

  • God Jul

When do they give presents?

  • Christmas Eve

Who brings the presents?

  • Father Christmas, known here as Jultomten

What’s on the menu?

  • It’s a smorgasbord, with classic dishes including ham, sausages, gubbröra (egg and anchovy), herring salad, pickled herring, homemade pate, rye bread and fish dishes.

Any other traditions I should know about?

  • December 13 is Lucia. Girls and boys dress in full-length white robes, singing songs and holding candles. Most towns and villages have a competition to be Lucia herself. The winner wears a crown of candles and there’s often a parade.
  • Swedes take picking a Christmas tree very seriously, looking for dense branches and nice symmetry. People living in the countryside often chop down their own.
  • Father Christmas doesn’t drop off presents in the night in Sweden. Instead he knocks at the door after the big Christmas Eve feast to deliver them in person, giving someone the opportunity to dress up.
  • Christmas markets in Sweden often offer ice skating alongside the shopping and eating. They’re also the perfect place to sample a warming mug of glögg – a spiced, sugared and mulled wine. It’s often served with raisins and blanched almonds.