Christmas in Sweden is a time of many traditions. Above all, it is about light…
As the darkness comes earlier and earlier each day until the winter solstice, Swedes start very early with putting up candles, lights and Christmas decorations. The celebration of St. Lucia is also associated with light and it is a big event here in Sweden. Every town, school or choir chooses one girl to be the year’s Lucia, which means that during a special procession on December 13 the girl leads the procession wearing a crown of nine candles. Lucia and the other members of the procession are dressed in a white dress and a red ribbon around waist.
During the whole Advent, but especially on St. Lucia’s Day, saffron buns called lussekatter are eaten. Gingerbread and mulled wine are also very popular in winter. Swedish mulled wine (glögg) is much sweeter and less alcoholic than in Central Europe and usually contains almonds and raisins. Gingerbread and mulled wine are traditionally served at Christmas markets.
In Stockholm, there are three smaller markets – in the Old Town on Stortorget, in Kungsträdgården (where you can also find an ice rink) and in Skansen. I have to admit that I don’t like Stockholm’s Christmas markets as much as those in Vienna, London or Krakow. There is less food, less hot drinks to warm yourself with and less social and warm-hearted atmosphere.
On the other hand, Stockholm’s Christmas tree is pretty impressive. In 1996, Jan Stenbeck (owner of an investment company) decided that Stockholm deserves a Christmas tree that would be even more spectacular than the one in Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Since then every year the most beautiful tree in Uppland is chosen, brought to Stockholm by truck and decorated with 5000 lights, freshly baked gingerbread and other decorations.
And there is one more thing that deserves attention in Stockholm during Christmas, the show-windows of Nordiska Kompaniet department store with small elves preparing everything for Christmas.