The War on Christmas: the 24th versus 25th

In the United States, extreme right wing pundits and “pastors” freak out every year over the war on Christmas. Say, “happy holidays” to a stranger? That’s ignoring Christmas at the cost of being politically correct! Write “Seasons Greetings” on your annual holiday card? That’s hating on Christianity!

Say “Happy Hanukah” to your Jewish friend? That’s being a jew-lover to a people who killed Jesus! (But wasn’t Jesus a Jew? Oh, I guess)


*Crap, I meant Christmas season!


After you have a great big laugh over the moronity of this situation (and yes, sadly many Christians do not know Jesus was Jewish), I have a bigger issue on the war on Christmas.

What day should we celebrate Christmas?

The Swedes as we know and love, celebrate Christmas on the 24th and spend the 25th going to church (midnight mass, maybe) and resting.

The Russian Ortodox celebrate Christmas on Epiphany, January 7th.

Americans celebrate on December 25th.

To me, this is a real problem. Because I want to open my presents, eat sill, and drink glögg. And no one really knows what date we should use!

Call Santa! No, Jultomte!

No… call Rudolph!

Damnit, we cannot even figure out who’s spearheading this holy day.

This year, I spent the holidays (note my political savvy correctness), in confusion. The serious arguments in the household revolved around:

  • What day do we put the Christmas tree up?
  • When can we put up Christmas decorations (like the julstjärnor)?
  • What day do we celebrate Christmas?
  • What do we eat?
  • When is the tree taken down?

Oh dear, we don’t even know what to eat! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! {That is how I felt for two weeks}

After debating for weeks, we finally came to some reasonable conclusions:

  • What day do we put the Christmas tree up? December 11th
  • When can we put up Christmas decorations (like julstjärnor)? December 8th
  • What day do we celebrate Christmas? December 24th
  • What do we eat? Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, champagne, glögg, lussebullar, and pepparkakor
  • When is the tree taken down? When *I* say so! :)

Even though I have been with the Swede for four years now, this is certainly not the first time we had this discussion. It just happened that this year we celebrated Christmas with my family: not Christian) and not in Sweden.

But it all worked out in the end. I have a massive noble fir tree that is 2.2 meters tall. I have my Christmas ornaments my family has owned since the 80s. I have julstjanor jimmied-up with light bulbs. I have an IKEA adventsljusstake that I found in the secondhand store free bin because a light was missing (that was a bitch to replace!). I have tomte, sheep, and julbock.

And I have my dad, the Swede, and the bunny.

So matter what day you celebrated Christmas, here’s to wishing all of you God Forsättning and Gott Nytt År! Let 2013 kick butt for everyone!


{photo by unknown}

3 thoughts on “The War on Christmas: the 24th versus 25th”

  1. Don’t know, but thought that you’d like to know why we celebrate on the 24th in Sweden. We actually celebrate on the 25th, and open presents on the 25th if you follow how days were counted about 300 years ago, before people had watches.
    The new day did at that time begin at sunset instead of at midnight. Sunset is at roughly 3 PM on dec 24th, so it was dec 25th after 3 PM on dec 24th, and that is when Swedes open the presents. We later changed so that the new day begins at midnight, but we kept the tradition of opening the presents after 3 PM on the 24th of December.

  2. @Kaj – I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Clocks and the ability to tell time has been around for far longer than 300 years. Are you trying to say Christmas date is on the 24th because of the switch to Gregorian calendar 300 years ago?

    It could account for date change since Sweden itself was totally confused between 1700-1740 mixing Gregorian and Julian calendars.

  3. Yes, the ability to do so is far older than that, but the common man (in Sweden, and I guess the rest of the world as well) did not have clocks at that time.

    I don’t think that the conversion to the Gregorian Calendar is to blame. I don’t know when we switched from counting the new day at midnight instead of at sunset. I guess you understand Swedish by now. The wikipedia page for Gregorian Calendar does not mention when the new day began, but the Swedish does:

    Read the section on Dagar. It says that the traditional definition was “tiden mellan två nedgångar”. The time between two sunsets.

    The 300 years that I mentioned was just an arbitrary time when we still counted sunset as the beginning of the new day.

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