Merry Nordic Christmas

Author: Caroline Brandelious   Date Posted:21 December 2019 

Merry Nordic Christmas

Image from: Visit Rovaniemi

Forget about Christmas Day, in the Nordic Countries Christmas Eve is the main day to celebrate. What about a visit from Santa himself, lucky almonds in the Christmas porridge and old school cartoons on the TV. Here are some classic Nordic Christmas traditions to take on, enjoy or laugh about. 

Christmas Eve is the big day in the Nordic countries. The day starts slow with a long breakfast and then the long wait for Santa and present unwrapping starts. The visit from Santa normally happens in the afternoon or evening, so all day the kids are waiting and waiting and waiting. While waiting it is common to watch some cartoons on TV. Swedes watch a Donald Duck show at 3 pm  from the 1960’s that has been the same ever since. In Norway they watch a Czech dubbed Cinderella story from the 1970’s at 11 am. For some people this shows are holy and the true meaning of Christmas. 

In Scandinavia the Christmas food varies a little bit between the countries. While Swedes like to serve up a whole buffet with everything from herring, meatballs, potato bake, cured salmon and ham. The other countries have a big dinner in the evening which in Denmark would be the traditional duck roast and in Finland leg of pork and Norway pork ribs and “lutefisk”. Lutefisk is also tradition to eat around Christmas in all the Nordic countries and it is made in a very old style way of cooking where you dehydrate the cod and before serving it you put it in a stock to rehydrate it. Another very special fishy and super smelly dish is “Rakfisk” or “Surströmming”, it is salted fish fermented in water up to a year! It is strongly recommended to have with a schnapps. 

For dessert or late snacks the traditional porridge is served. Some prefer it plain while some make it sweet with cream, vanilla and fruit. There will be one almond in the porridge and if you are the lucky one to get it in your bowl good things will happen. In Denmark you get a present, in Finland you will have a lucky next year, in Norway you get a present made of marzipan and in Sweden it means you will get married. 

In the Nordic countries Santa comes and knocks on the door to deliver some Christmas presents. All day the kids have patiently waiting for the Christmas presents to be unwrapped under the Christmas tree. The real unwrapping normally starts after the grand visit from Santa himself. It could be because Santa lives so close to the Nordic Countries (if you believe he is from the North Pole) that he has time to come and visit every family in Scandinavia, or because the 24th of December he has plenty of time when the rest of the world expect him on the 25th, who knows? Of course he gets busy too on Christmas Eve and daddy, grandpa or any another volunteer from the family have to step in and dress out as Santa and come and knock on the door. The adults always thinks they trick the children but they are more or less always busted. 

Christmas Eve always finish with full bellies but maybe you still have some room for a glass of Glögg, mulled wine next to the sparkling Christmas tree or in a Sauna if you’re in Finland to finally wind down and start the holiday season. 

God Jul!, Gladelig Jul!, Hyvää Joulua! Merry Chrsitmas! 


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