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.
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?
#2 Your stomach is going to die of joy after a traditional Julbord.
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“.
#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.
#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?
#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?
#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?
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.