A Photo Guide to a Swedish Christmas

If this is your first Christmas in Sweden or your quest to learn about Christmas around the world, you’ve come to the right spot.

I put together a comprehensive guide to having a Christmas in Sweden and abroad. Even if you don’t have access to thousands of tomtar, you can still incorporate Swedish traditions into your own traditions.

There’s so much food and decor to enjoy during the holidays, but it is all about family and giving back to the community.

Swedish Christmas Decorations

swedish christmas decoration
If you are in Stockholm, then I highly suggest shopping at Stockholms Stadsmission to get secondhand Christmas ornaments. You can see from the photo there is plenty of pretty decorations at a good cost, and doing the Earth a favor by recycling.

Julstjärnor – Christmas Stars
starry night
The stars represent the town of Bethlehem.

Julbocke – Christmas goat
Julbocken - Gavle Goat
The Christmas goat is said to check on families that Christmas decorations were done properly. Some folklore tales say the Yule Goat scared the children and demanded gifts.

In Nordic mythology, Thor rode on his chariot with two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. In the Prose Edda, he kills the goats and provides his guests and the gods food. With his hammer, Mjölnir, he resurrects the goats the next day; creating a cycle of sustenance and nourishment.

christmas in sweden - lights

christmas ornaments bokeh
Of course you need ornaments for your tree!

svenska jul
From Design House Stockholm and you can buy them in the US. It’s dark, it’s dark, it’s dark, candles are a must; any size, any style.

Julgran – Christmas Tree
A Charlie Brown Christmas tree
The Christmas tree is put up on the third Advent and stays up until Knutsdag (twentieth day yule) on January 13th.

Kalendarljus – Calendar candle

Jultomte – Santa Claus
Tomten - Swedish Santa

Julgris – Christmas pig
christmas pig decoration

swedish reindeer lights
Who doesn’t love reindeer?!

Swedish Food

Christmas smörgåsbord


A recipe from ICA.

Julsenap - Christmas mustard

lussebullar - saffron buns
Yummy saffron buns! Recipe to come soon!

glögg - swedish mulled wine
You can buy several different flavor from Systembolaget or make your own using wine, vodka or rum.

Annas Pepparkakor
I’ll be posting a recipe quite soon!

Aquavit – Snaps

Julmust - The definitive Swedish Christmas soda

Swedish Christmas Holidays

Christmas Calendar
swedish christmas calendar

Advent Candles
One candle is lit each Sunday before Christmas.

Christmas Eve
Kalle Anka (Donald Duck & Disney)

The Disney special has been on for more than 30 years. It’s the same every year but it is truly a bizarre and fun Swedish Christmas obsession.

Christmas Dinner
The Swedish Christmas dinner is served on Christmas eve after watching Kalle Anka and before opening Christmas presents. The smörgåsboard is several courses, starting with cold meats and fishes, hot food, cheeses, and dessert. And nothing would be complete without toasting with snaps.

9 thoughts on “A Photo Guide to a Swedish Christmas”

  1. You forgot ris à la Malta! Probably the most important thing. Like your blog a lot, I’m in the us as an exchange student and can use your blog to show stuff from my home country when I can’t explain it myself :)

  2. @Nkosazana – Thanks dear! Once again my spelling skills has evaded me.

    @Elin – I think I just learned something totally new, what is ris à la Malta?!
    Thanks for reading my blog :-)

  3. Thanks Youma!

    I think I will try making both (ris à la Malta) and risgrysgröt and see what the difference is.

  4. Risgrötgröt is a meal in it self, although probably more common as breakfast or lunch than as dinner. It may be a part of the julbord, but you usually don’t eat only risgrynsgröt as dinner. Ris á la Malta is a dessert, always (usually at the julbord)!

    Risgrynsgröt is served with sugar, cinnamon and milk. At christmas there is often one almond in the bowl, and the person who gets the almond gets to make a wish.

    Ris á la Malta is cold risgrynsgröt mixed with whipped cream and some sugar and vanilla. I guess the difference isn’t really that big, but for us they are two completely different things! :)

    (And they are both sooo good!)

  5. Liv- Thanks for clarifying! So I could make risgynsgröt and then use the leftovers to make the ris à la Malta? Youma dropped link above and it mentioned oranges in the ris à la Malta…commonly done?

    Either way, how can you go wrong with cream + sugar + rice :)

  6. I never let the season go by without a little (ris à la Malta) in my belly! Awesome cosy food. I recommend letting it continue ‘cooking’ in the bed (no joke intended, really!). After it’s 95% finished in a pot, wrap it in some towels and then cover it with blankets in the bed.

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