We don’t know about you but we are always dreaming of a white Christmas. The holiday season in Scandinavia is a magical time filled with enchanting customs and cherished traditions. As winter blankets the region in snow and darkness, Scandinavians embrace the warmth of togetherness and the spirit of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), creating a festive atmosphere that is uniquely Scandinavian.
If you're looking to infuse your celebrations with a unique and cozy charm, why not take inspiration from the Scandinavians? With their long, dark winters, the people of Scandinavia have mastered the art of creating warm and inviting holiday traditions. Let’s explore how you can celebrate Christmas like a true Scandinavian, from the decorations to the food and everything in between.
Advent Calendars and Candles:
The countdown to Christmas officially begins on December 1st in Scandinavia, marked by the opening of Advent calendars. These calendars often contain chocolates or small gifts, providing a daily dose of excitement for both children and adults alike. In addition to Advent calendars, many Scandinavian homes are adorned with Advent candlesticks. Families light a candle each Sunday in December, creating a cozy ambiance that adds to the anticipation of the approaching holiday.
St. Lucia's Day in Sweden:
Celebrated on December 13th, St. Lucia's Day is a festival of light and music that honors the third-century Christian martyr, St. Lucia. In Sweden, young girls don white gowns with red sashes and wear wreaths of candles on their heads, symbolizing light in the darkness. Processions and traditional songs fill the streets, creating a breathtaking spectacle that captures the essence of the holiday season. Think of this as a Swedish version of a glow-up party.
Celebration in Different Regions
- Denmark is know for the concept of hygge, which means getting cozy during the chilly winters. It's not just for Christmas, but you can totally bring it into your holiday vibe. Picture warm gatherings with friends, candles, and maybe a fireplace. Danes even have a special Christmas countdown candle and cute folded hearts as decorations.
- In Norway, Christmas Eve takes center stage as the main day of celebration. Families come together for a hearty Christmas dinner, often featuring dishes like ribbe (pork ribs) or lutefisk (dried fish). After dinner, it's time to exchange gifts, and many Norwegians attend a midnight church service to welcome Christmas Day.
- For Finns, the sauna is an integral part of Christmas preparations. Many families take a sauna bath on Christmas Eve before the festivities begin. The sauna is a place for relaxation and reflection, creating a peaceful atmosphere before the joyous celebrations with family and friends.
- In Iceland, the Yule Lads, mischievous creatures akin to Santa's elves, play a central role in Christmas folklore. These 13 mischievous characters are said to visit children on the 13 nights leading up to Christmas, leaving either gifts or potatoes, depending on the child's behavior. The Yule Lads add a touch of whimsy to the Icelandic holiday season.
Decorate the Scandinavian Way:
Scandinavians are known for their minimalist and cozy approach to decorating. Embrace a simple color palette of whites, greys, and natural wood tones to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Scandinavians love candles, especially during the dark winter months. Use an abundance of candles, lanterns, and fairy lights to add a soft, magical glow to your home. Place them on windowsills, tables, and even in the fireplace.
Bring the outdoors inside by incorporating natural elements into your decor. Consider using pinecones, pine tree branches, and wreaths made from evergreen branches. This not only adds a touch of nature but also enhances the festive ambiance.
Traditional Scandinavian Christmas Food:
Smörgåsbord Feast: A Scandinavian Christmas feast often includes a smörgåsbord, a buffet-style meal featuring an array of traditional dishes. Include items like gravlax (cured salmon), herring, Swedish meatballs, and various pickled vegetables.
Pepparkakor Cookies: These spiced ginger cookies are a Scandinavian favorite during the holiday season. Bake a batch to enjoy with a cup of mulled wine or hot cocoa.
Glögg - Scandinavian Mulled Wine: Warm up your festivities with a steaming mug of glögg, a traditional Scandinavian mulled wine. Infused with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom, it's the perfect drink to keep you cozy.
So, there you have it – a simple guide to having a chill Scandinavian Christmas. Whether you're into the glow-up of Saint Lucia, the mischief of the Yule Lads, the coziness of hygge, the cool decorations, or the yummy food, you're in for a Nordic-style holiday. Cheers to a laid-back and fun Christmas! 🌟🎁