Twas a Swedish Christmas this year. It was a bit exciting for the entire family. Marcus hadn’t celebrated Christmas in Sweden for 3 years, I had never celebrated Christmas in Sweden and Baby hadn’t celebrated Christmas before all together.
So it was with great anticipation that we rolled out of bed at 8am on the 24th. Marcus and I showered and Baby got a diaper change. Once we were all dressed we went downstairs to have breakfast with the family at 9am. On the table was rice pudding (I guess that’s the best translation) with toppings: sugar, cinnamon, milk or berry juice (saft soppa?), as well as bread and sliced Christmas ham for sandwiches with toppings: mustard and beet salad. To drink was milk and of course julmust (a Swedish soft drink served for Christmas and Easter).
After breakfast we all went to the basement, settled in the couches – Baby curling up in my lap – and we took turns reading aloud from the scriptures about the birth of Christ. I really liked this tradition, as it really helped set the mood for the day and reminded us what we were celebrating – and why.
Then we had some fun family time. We got out the Wii, the candy, the cookies, the blankets, and spent the next few hours enjoying one another’s company. During this Marcus, Baby and I went back upstairs to change into our nicer clothes. Baby especially looked pretty in her new red dress, white stockings and tiny black shoes. Hello Shirley Temple!
At 3 o’clock sharp – and I mean sharp! – it was time to gather around the TV for From All of Us to All of You – or in Sweden better known as “Kalle Anka” (Donald Duck) (wonder which character the Swedes like the best…). This show was so important that Marcus messaged me on Facebook to stop whatever I was doing – I was nursing Baby – and come down immediately.
When Kalle Anka was over it was time for Christmas dinner! I was especially excited for this part. We entered the kitchen and was the dinner table completely covered in dishes with potatoes, meat balls, salmon, brussels sprouts, potato gratin, a dish called “Janssons Frestelse” (potato gratin with fish), herring, sausages, gravy… think I remembered everything. I know I’m gonna get this question a lot when I get back to Denmark, so I’ll just answer it right away: Swedish Christmas dinner was a lot better than I thought it was gonna be. I really liked the different meats and the potato gratin. I still prefer Danish Christmas dinner, but I’m definitely not gonna be sad to have Swedish Christmas dinner every other year.
Once we had finished eating it was time for presents! We all gathered around the tree and enjoyed an hour of the joy of giving and receiving. It was really a great experience for me, being still the newest member of the family. Since money is a little tight at the moment we hadn’t provided very many of the gifts under the tree. But to me it was a true bonding moment sitting there watching presents being passed around and feeling the love in the room. These people are truly family to me.
Dessert was then served, delicious gingerbread cheesecake, and at last we all watched Svensson Svensson, which I am told is also a Swedish Christmas tradition.
I am surprised how little I missed Danish Christmas. It just testifies that Christmas is more about the people you spend it with than the food eaten or traditions kept.