Why you should celebrate Christmas in Sweden!

Christmas is coming. 

Whether you are a current or prospective international student: by choosing to study in Sweden you are also committing yourself to an exciting new lifestyle.

Maybe you have noticed in previous blog posts: Sweden has its own culture, ranging from the balance of Lagom to high levels of coffee consumption during Fika.

Christmas time in Sweden is another story – as you may have read  in one of the previous blogs, Swedish December is characterized by a variety of traditions, which can appear as both as a new experience and cultural shock for an international students.

At this point I want to ask you:

Do you want to celebrate Christmas in Sweden?

Based on my own experience and my Swedish host mum (more on that later), here´s why I am asking you this question: 

#1 Swedish Christmas drinks and pastries are unique in their taste – and in their names.

Pepperkakka, Lussekatt, Glögg, Julmust – you seriously want to eat those weird sounding, delicious drinks and pastries?

Julmust – the Swedish Coca Cola for Christmas. |
© Jessica
Pepperkakka and Lussekatt will define your Fika during Christmas. |© Jessica
#2 Your stomach is going to die of joy after a traditional Julbord

Julbord is a traditional  Swedish Christmas buffet where you can taste a number of dishes, such as the Swedish Christmas ham Julskinka, the mainstream herring in its different sauces and good old Köttbullar.  If you made it through the main course alive, desserts like the Swedish Porridge Risgrynsgröt are awaiting you. Which is by the way the favorite dish of the Swedish Santa Claus. Because cookies are so old school in Sweden.

You can have an authentic food experience for example at IKEA. It is highly recommendable to go there with an almost empty stomach as you will spend quite a time there. Depending on how much your stomach can handle.

An important note to fulfill my role as an attentive Public Health student: Don´t forget to wash your hands beforehand. Otherwise you will have the pleasure to meet the Swedish “Winter Vomiting Disease“. 

Do you really want to indulge yourself in this food paradise? | © Jessica
#3 You are obliged to watch “Kalle Anka” in order to fully enjoy the Swedish Christmas spirit.

Since many generations, on December 24 at around 3 p.m. Swedes are gathering in front of their TVs and watch “Kalle Anka“. It´s the Swedish way of spending time with friends and families and enjoy a bit of nostalgia and laughter together.

Hearing the Swedish title may be completely misleading, but I am almost sure that you are familiar with the English one: Donald Duck. I know, it´s mind-blowing.

I ask you again: Do you really want to participate in this cult?

#4 The Christmas decorations are just stunningly overrated. 

To refer to Andrew´s previous post: The darkness is here – so are the lights.

And in Swedish terms, there is a lot of light to create an atmosphere of Christmas around the streets of Malmö and Lund.

This teddy bear is desperately trying to spread Christmas vibes at a train station in Malmö. |
© Jessica
Are you seriously considering to deal with all that light? | © Jessica
#5 There is no snow.

Both in Malmö and Lund. At least in December. Or at least in my presence. Can you cope with that disappointment?

Forget your idyllic imagination of White Christmas: Swedish landscapes are stunning even without snow. | © Jessica
#6 You joyfully listen to and sing Swedish songs without understanding a word.

Have you recently visited the Lucia concert? Or listened to Christmas songs on Spotify?

Listening to Swedish Christmas carols is both heaven for your ears and hell for your inner star. Because language barriers are limiting your talented voice to shine.

Do you really want to do that to yourself?

You know you are in Sweden when Spotify includes non-recognizable playlists during Christmas. | 
© Jessica
#7 The most controversial: the Swedes. 

My experience so far: stories of Swedes happily singing and dancing around the Christmas tree and throwing their humor and easy-going attitude at you – especially in your attempts to cope with Christmas homesickness.

Are you even prepared to deal with that?

Baking small, crescent vanilla biscuits with friends: In Austria we call them our beloved “Vanillekipferl“.  My Swedish host dad on the other hand would call them “Austrian banana cookies” |© Jessica

So, have you made it to the end of this blog post and are still convinced to celebrate Christmas like a Swede? If so, congrats to you. It will be a new, exciting experience in your life of studying abroad.

But no matter how unusual and weird the Christmas culture of the country you are celebrating in, is:

Having a joyful, memorable time is all that matters.

I guess that´s the answer.   

God Jul!