Advent-time the Nordic way
Author: Hanna Lofgren (edited by Nora Ross) Date Posted:16 November 2021
For those prone to holiday stress, following Scandinavian advent traditions may be just what you’ve needed for a more relaxed December. Follow our Advent tips and allow yourself time to land softly into the holiday mood.
Advent-time the Nordic way
Great news to Christmas enthusiasts of all ages: the first Advent is here! If you ask a Scandi, it’s now totally allowed to let yourself get excited about the festive season ahead. For those prone to holiday stress, following Scandinavian advent traditions may be just what you’ve needed for a more relaxed December.
All around Scandinavia, the first Advent - that’s Sunday the 28th of November this year - kicks off the countdown to the festive season. While the origins of the Scandinavian Advent customs are firmly based in the Christian tradition, there is universal beauty to them that can be enjoyed regardless of your religion.
Follow our Advent tips and allow yourself time to land softly into the holiday mood.
Awaken the senses
The four weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with sweet scents of pepparkakor (gingerbread) or honeybread and warm glögg (mulled wine with raisins and almonds). The Swedes will treat themselves with saffrony Lucia buns, Finns gobble up jultårtor (plum marmalade pastries) and Danes shall enjoy an aebleskiva (a lovechild of a doughnut and pancake). The familiar flavours and scents will gently awaken senses to the season of joy. If you’re not a huge fan of sugary things, having some Christmas flavoured tea or Chai tea bubbling on the stove will work as an “edible diffuser”.
Design Letters Espresso cups decorated with candles and seasonal greens creating a modern Advent display
Countdown with candles
Every Sunday leading up to Christmas, Advent candles will be lit in four-candle candelabras or candleholders. On the first Advent the first candle is lit, on the second Advent the first and the second, and so on. A Danish family tradition is to burn a single large pillar candle measuring the days, rather than weeks. Whichever you go with, don’t forget to add in fresh greenery or little seasonal ornaments. It’s a lovely, subtle way to re-introduce Christmas decorations back to your home.
Sweeten up the wait
For children (and perhaps some older Christmas-lovers, too), the main focus of Advent has always been on finding the perfect Advent calendar to help counting days until Santa’s visit. Fun surprises from behind the numbered doors seem to make the wait so much easier!
If you’d rather make a personalised calendar to be filled with little notes, gifts and treats, there are gorgeous DIY ideas galore online. The most traditional of home-made Advent calendars must be the one made with 24 cloves spiked into an orange, creating a beautiful christmassy scent. Each day, one clove is pulled out from the fruit, and when none are left, the big day has arrived.
Advent-time is THE peak season of DIY-ing in Scandinavia. Families and friends will get together to share the joys of baking and crafting things like wreaths, gingerbread houses, christmas cards and Danish Christmas Hearts to hang on the tree. Getting to tick off a few boxes from the Christmas to-do-list while spending time together with your loved-ones - talk about making two friends with one gift!
The true magic of the Advent-time lies in its slow, mindful pace. Starting early and taking your time with preparations, will help to avoid the hurries and worries of last-minute present hunting or recipe sourcing when it’s time to bring another plate to a gathering or host a party at home.
Here’s to peace, hope, love and joy - have yourself a merry little Advent-time!