Ho, Ho, Ho: Christmas time (Jul) in Sweden

The last couple of weeks Sweden's had it share of shocks- the Wikileaks affair, terrorists, Nobel prize boycotts! But luckily there's still Christmas to focus your mind on something a bit more heart warming which we all need as we get to the end of the year. And to counteract the cold.

Unfortunately we won't be in Sweden for Christmas Eve so I won't be able to observe how it's done here. Instead we'll be in Estonia partaking of family and friends in an even colder climate. Australia where are you!

Christmas time in Stockholm’s an interesting affair. I didn’t know what to expect coming from Australia where we have Christmas in summer. There it's usually hot and nerves are frazzled as the whole country not only has to buy presents but school finishes for months and many people have their long holidays. You really have to chill out to get through it all!

Here it’s easy to chill out cos it’s bluddy cold. The weather definitely puts a damper on the shopping frenzy and the children aren’t as hysterical too. Nice!

Recently (13th December) they had St Lucia's day in Sweden and other nordic countries. It was kind of interesting. Kind of pagan to me. Though it seems to derive from Christian history. On television throughout the day were processions of young girls all over the country illuminating the screen with their candles.The leader (who symbolises St Lucia) wears a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head. They all sing the Italian St Lucia song but in swedish. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned. All the schools all over Sweden have their St Lucia processions.

The crowning of a Lucia in Sweden.

The view on the way to the local shop. Love it. You could hear a pin drop in the snow it's so quiet.

At Drottningholm Castle market a horse and cart entertained the well behaved Swedish kiddies. I've heard parents leave them out in the cold as babies so that they get used to the weather!

Drottningholm market. Where you can buy authentic Swedish foods like reindeer! Ugh -though I've eaten some to be honest and it's very nice. Though I decided that was the first and last time. I don't want to eat one more animal than I already do, especially a reindeer.

It’s all about santa in Stockholm. Santa is absolutely everywhere. On television, in the mall, on the radio, at the movies, in the streets, in people’s front gardens. There is absolutely no mention anywhere of Jesus or anything remotely Christian about Christmas here, except for St Lucia day. That is a surprise. (Possibly it's different in the country.) Even the Christian churches don’t display anything much. There are no birth of Jesus displays out the front of churches. It’s quite different in Australia. Even though the churches in Australia complain every year about how commercial it is and how the true meaning of Christmas has been lost. There’s still a lot more religious stuff going on in the land of Oz.

Everyone has lights in their windows. Not many coloured lights though. I love a coloured fairy light.

One of the Christmas trees around the streets.The local councils put Christmas lights in many pine trees.

The same Christmas tree trying to survive a snowfall.

There doesn’t seem to be as many community based Christmas events either in Sweden though they do have a lot of markets with traditional food and drinks. We went to Drottningholm Castle Christmas market and drank glögg (mulled wine) and ate the local fresh ginger biscuits. Lovely.

In the city (stan) at night. The Swedes are brilliant at lighting design I've discovered. It's very subtle and soft like snowflakes that have been electrified.

Market stall at Gamla Stan (old town) night market.

In Australia a real feature of Christmas is the local community coming together for carols in the park which you can do there of course as it’s hot. It happens in every district all over the country. You‘ll see young musicians everywhere entertaining the public singing carols too. Here it seems the emphasis is more on family and cooking a great dinner. Which it is in Australia too, it’s just that it’s such a huge event down under.

Sergel's torg. The main city square. They have a lot of demonstrations here. It's always a hive of activity.

Sweden really does look like the picture books you read as a child though. Santa gnomes in the gardens, snow covered pines, Christmas trees lit up with lights at the corner of the street. Cosy windows full of beautiful, fairy lights in red and white. Behind which you can see families eating and drinking joyfully. I hope.


  1. Quite lovely, but much too cold.

  2. True. You really have to enjoy the winter to live here happily which I do. Thanks for visiting Jan.

  3. Hi, what a lovely read.
    brrrr,looks pretty but ohh so cold.

    hello and Merry Christmas from Australia :)

  4. Thanks for that. And Merry Christmas to you in Oz too. I miss it! Supposedly it's been the coldest at this time for a 100 years. Not good.


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