After my massive bashing on Swedish fashion, I figured I would at least credit Sweden with awesome decoration for Christmas. I mean, I’ll still be hater on fashion here.
It’s definitely Christmastime in Stockholm. The lights on Hornsgatan are lit up. Ahleans has the pretty Christmas lights. And even the Pressbyrans and 7-Elevens have that Christmas smell of Lussekatter. Yummmy ! But for us foreigners, what is a Swedish Christmas and what do eat, do, and decorate during this six weeks of food eating?
No fear, Sapphire’s here! :P At least to help with decorating your apartment to look like a proper Swedish Christmas one. Here’s your Swedish Christmas wikipedia guide.
Tomten – The Santa Claus
The tomte is Santa Clause in Swedish. Sweden has adorable Santas as they are not really full sized old men with beards and hats kind-of dolls. They are little round balls with white fuzz as a beard and a red hat, basically an abstract version of Santa. Be sure to get a couple tomtar and keep one near a window or on the counter.
Varmljus – Candles
Plenty of candles are needed during the cold, dark Swedish winter. Little tealights are classic and can be safely placed almost anywhere in the house.
This photo below is for when you put up the countdown from Advent to Christmas. Every Sunday until Christmas, you light a candle.
Julstjärna – Swedish Stars
It’s quite possibly the most Swedish thing you could do: putting up white Swedish Christmas stars at the window. Watch all the neighbors near you, in three weeks, stars everywhere. Alas, at least now, people are getting more creative with different colors.
Änglar – Swedish Angels
Maybe not super Swedish per se, but angels are needed in all good Christmas decorations. I guess since the snowman is not as popular, angels will do.
If you want to support a great cause and buy Swedish goodies, I highly recommend Sally Ann – The Salvation Army store. It’s a tiny store on Hornsgatan 94 in Sodermalm and all the products are fair trade. The Swedish Angels below as well as the candles from above are from there. I’m going to buy the rest of xmas decor from there!
and the most awesome of all…
Julbocken – Swedish Goat (aka the Gävlebocken)
The randomest of all, the julbock is the goat from Gävle, a city three hours north of Stockholm. In the city square, a 42 feet tall, 23 feet wide, 3 tonnes straw goat is erected. Stig Gavlén, a marketing man, invented the goat in 1966. At that time it only cost 10,000kr to build. Today it costs 100,000kr and for the last twenty five years, its been burned down. Yea, a three tonnes beast burned on New Year’s Eve at midnight, all good fun.
Oh, did a little more research about the Yule Goat and its history goes back to pagan times of the Norse gods. Thor, one of the major gods, rode in the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Goats were very valued then. Up until the 19th century in Scandinavia, it was julbocken that distributed christmas presents, not santa claus.
Since most us cannot put up a 40 foot tall goat in our apartments, we have little straw goats instead. Just don’t place them near the candles.