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}

Swedish Christmas Guide 2012

December is here! And that means, Christmas, S:t Lucia festivities, and food. Lots of food. Oh and lots of decoration.

Over the years I write a couple articles about Christmas in Sweden and after sometime, the posts get all mixed up together.

To make it easier for you all to find the right post about Christmas, I put together a list of links from over the years.

NK & Hamngatan in Stockholm at Christmastime

Om Anders braskar, skall julen slaskar – Will it snow on Christmas? The age-long question is answered if snow falls on November 30.

Difference between Swedish & American Christmases – Trying to explain how your Christmas is different than from across the pond? This post should help you with the little details in each of the traditions.

Epiphany – The 13th day after Christmas. We get a day off.

Christmas holidays – A list of holidays and days off throughout the Christmas season.


Glögg & Lussebullar Recipes – Swedish and American version on making those delicious little saffron buns. To satisfy your thirst, make your own glögg, mulled wine. It is a lot easier than you think!

Julbord Foods – Want to know what you will eat at Julbord with the in-laws or your company? I made three versions for the Julbord guide translated from Swedish to English. The article, a two page Julbord printer-friendly guide, and a three page large font guide. Print it and share it with your family or coworkers! {If you do share with your office mates, please don’t remove the Lost in Stockholm name.}

Swedish Christmas Foods – Dishes to make at home for your family julbord.
Nordiska Kompaniet {NK}’s Christmas Display – If you love seeing the shops light up their windows for Christmas, then don’t miss out at NK, Sweden’s most well known department store.

Christmas Photos – A lot of pretty photos to help you oooo and ahhh.

Christmas Decoration – Christmas stars, advent candles, we can’t forgot the decorations! The biggest conundrum: when to put the tree up?

Christmas in the Nordic Region
Christmas in Iceland – A guest post written by Tinna. Want to know what the Yule lads are doing? Read her post and perhaps mix in a little spirit from The North Pole.

Om Anders braskar, skall julen slaskar

Before I get to the meaning of the title of this post, it is November 30th allihopa! The last day of dreary November is nearly over and we are one step closer to a fun filled Christmas in Sweden.

That means drinking, celebrating and passing out!

Which begs the all important question: will it snow on Christmas? And by Christmas, we mean December 24th. Not the 25th for you Americans.

For that, we ask Anders, the man who has November 30th as his namesday. It is said that if snows on this day, it will not on Christmas.

I know it is early in the day, but if anyone sees it snow in their region, send me a photo, and we’ll post which cities may not be getting a white Christmas this year.

View from Kista. Photo by S.

View from Linköping. Photo by Jesica

NK’s Jul Christmas Display Collection is Up

Oh thank god! Grey, grey, grey November is almost over. And surprisingly there has not really been any snow. But I hereby request snow for Christmas, we all need to feel warm and fuzzy.

Of course one of the best parts of the Christmas season is seeing all the Christmas displays. In Sweden, that means visiting the department store NK {Nordiska Kompaniet}. It is like the Macys/Nordstrom of Sweden.

They don’t do a holiday parade with floats but they have adorable window displays. I took a few photos from the store in Stockholm. You can see different at their stores across the country. Be sure to pop by and dream a little Christmas.

A tribute to stories and fables…

Tribute to Pippi Longstocking

My favorite, the julbock (Christmas goat made out of straw)

Three Last Minute Epic Awesome Gifts to Give

It’s countdown time to Christmas.


Can we scream Yayyyy!!?


Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It happens to be around my birthday, which can be a big bummer some years since everyone’s forget. But who cannot resist the decoration! And the food! And the cookies!


If you’re celebrating Christmas on the 24th and opening gifts, you don’t have a lot of time! Suckers. In the interim, I spent a few fab days with Morgan of Your Living City making epic cute Christmas gifts.

They’re easy, they’re cute and they are homemade. You cannot throw away homemade gifts; like Grandma’s sweater.

Teacup Candles

What you need:
Teacups – Perfect time to use the old, mismatched sets.
Candle wax – Buy at any craft store like Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michels or Panduro in Sweden
If you’re in Sweden, it’s cheaper to buy already made candles from Åhlens (blockljus röd, grön, vit, bourgogne) than the A-te Ljusmassa
Wicks – found at any craft store.
1-2 skewer sticks or a pencil you’re willing to part from – to stir wax
Two pots – to use as a double boiler

Melting candle-wax:
Chop the wax into small pieces (1 cm is fine), this is especially important if you want use a blockljus or remaining wax from used candles. I used a very sharp knife to shave all the candles down and place in a small pot.

In a larger pot, fill 1/3 way up with water. Turn the stove on to medium high to bring the water to a low boil.

Put the small pot in the larger pot and ensure the water level is no more than halfway up on the small pot. You do not want to get water in the wax.

This can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to melt all the wax depending on how big your pot is.

While the wax is melting, set each teacup with a wick. The bought wicks are great because they have a metal bottom and will hold weight.

After the wax has melted, pour the hot wax into each teacup, no more than halfway up. After the wax cools, you will have to add more wax since it sinks and contracts.

Finish melting your wax!

Be careful when melting wax. Do not microwave wax and always use a double boiler when melting it on the stove. A double prevents fire and allows for even heating of the smaller container.

Check out Your Living City’s article for more details.

DIY cake tray and teacup candles

Cake Tier Stand
A cake tier stand is another wonderful gift that’s not only homemade but also environmentally friendly. Made from old plates and glasses, you can make a stand that’s as many tiers as you want and in any style: glass, porcelain or even silver.

What you need:
Strong glue
Plates of various sizes
Glasses – these should be at least 4in (9cm) tall so the trays have enough room to hold goodies

Wash and dry all the plates and glasses.

Glue two at a time. That means, glue one plate to one glass and let rest for a 3-4 hours.

When that’s done, you can glue those sets together.

See Your Living City’s post for the full story.

Indian Cooking Class
Run by yours truly, give the gift that keeps on giving. Send your friend, mom, dad, brother, cousin, husband, sambo, wife, dogsitter, secretary, coworker to three nights of Indian food. You’ll cook, you’ll fall in love and you’ll stuff yourself.

Standard class is three nights with 7-9 dishes to learn. Includes a recipe book with 25 recipes. They’re from my mom so you know they’re awesome and delicious.

Custom classes can be organized at a common center or friend’s house, or can be a different number of nights with your favorite Indian dishes.

Contact me for details and pricing. I’ll be checking my mail regularly until the 25th so it’s still time to give something cool to someone you love and love to get a meal from.

Happy holidays!

Christmas Traditions in Iceland

I asked one of my girlfriends, Tinna, to share her Icelandic Christmas traditions. She’s amazing and has written up about all the major dishes and treats as well as traditions on days before and after Christmas.

Tinna hails from Isafjördur in the West Fjörds of Iceland but is a true globetrotteur. Please check out Tinna’s blog (in Icelandic) and post a comment if you a question or experience to share!

Christmas stamps 2008, Iceland


Jólahlaðborð – Julbord – is something that co-workers and groups of friends do in the advent, usually at restaurants and hotels. There they’ll find most of the food that will then be eaten at Christmas. This is usually not a family thing, and more of a drunken ordeal with over-eating and dancing through the night.

Laufabrauð – Leaf bread – is traditionally from the northern parts of Iceland, but in the last 50 years or so the custom has spread and it is common for families to meet up in the weeks before Christmas to cut beautiful patterns in the leaf thin bread that is then deep fried. I’ll send pictures this week!

Kjötsúpa – Meat soup – is really not eaten at Christmas anymore, although I know that some people in their 50s and older have grown up eating meat soup for Christmas. It is actually really interesting to see how the traditions have changed in the last 50 years. Turkey of course is the newest addition to our Christmas tables, and I think more and more people eat it every year, but then perhaps on the 25th or New Year’s Eve.

Today, ptarmigan and glazed ham (hamborgarhryggur) are the most common dinners on the 24th, hangikjöt with white sauce (kind of bechamel) and potatoes on the 25th.

The leg of lamb is something my father grew up eating at Christmas. He grew up on a farm, and the Christmas luxury in the 60’s involved eating fresh meat, not smoked or salted, on the 24th. Often the meat was stuffed with dried apricots, prunes and dried apples (this is actually insanely good, but not really done anymore).

Brúnaðar kartöflur – Caramel potatoes – is a side dish that I think it is safe to say that is on every family’s dinner table sometime over the holidays. It is sooo sweet but is surprisingly good with the savoury meat. Basically you boil a bunch of potatoes, remove the skin and let them cool for a while. Meanwhile you slowly heat 50 g of sugar in a big pan until it starts to melt, then add the butter and stir until combined. My grandmother also adds a splash of cream, which is delicious. The cream can not be to cold though, then the caramel will get angry. Also be careful that the potatoes are completely dry before you add them to the pan. Cook until potatoes are warm and be careful not to get burned by the piping hot caramel.

Jólagrautur – Rice pudding – is traditionally just risgrynsgröt, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. This is a dish now eaten year round, but some families still eat it at Christmas as well. Many have turned to the sweeter Ris à l´amande, served with cherry-sauce (as in Denmark) or with warm sauces made from blueberries or crowberries. It is perfect as a dessert and in some families (mine for example) an almond is hidden in one of the bowls of Ris à l´amande. The person who gets the almond is supposed to keep it hidden for as long as possible and then gets a small present for winning the almond.

Christmas dessert varies a lot though, so many have home made ice cream or just some delicious and super advanced things that they finally have time to make as they are on holiday.

Rjúpa used to be eaten all winter long by families living in areas where they were common and easy to get. I think it is just in the last 40-50 years that they have become Christmas food. 10 years ago or so, the ptarmigans were getting dangerously few, so ptarmigan hunting has been severely limited since then.

We bake a lot of cookies (smákökur) in December, not only piparkökur. The different sorts are too many to count, but the remarkable thing is that cookies are basically only baked before Christmas. People in Scandinavia would recognize most of the cookies, as they are a version of Danish/Swedish/Norwegian småkakor, but I’m not sure if they are common in the US for example.

Kleinur and skyr are not really Christmas food, although they are certainly also eaten at Christmas. There is not really a tradition of glögg here in Iceland, it is at least clearly Scandinavian to us. We do drink a lot of hot chocolate though.

On the 23rd of December we celbrate Þorláksmessa, which is the mass of the only saint Iceland got before we stopped being catholic and became protestants back in the 1500s.

The tradition of eating fermented skate on the 23rd apparently has it’s origins in the West Fjords, and has just spread to other parts of the country in the last 30-40 years. Not everyone eats the skate
(understandably) and the smell gets stuck in your clothes and irritates the hell out of people living in apartment buildings for example. It is served with potatoes and hamsatólg (melted lamb’s fat (I KNOW!! YUK!)). I prefer having a few slices of rúgbrauð (rye bread) and a lot of butter with my skate.


Thirteen nights before Christmas the Yuletide Lads (Jólasveinarnir) come to cause mischief in the home. The parents of these lads, Grýla and Leppalúði, are trolls that were angry and wanted to scare children. Over the years, they have taken on a more benevolent role.

Today, you put shoe on the windowsill for the thirteen nights before Christmas. If you were well behaved the Yule Lads will treat you with something in the shoe, if not, you get a potato. It’s a lot of fun!

Drawing by Hugleikur Dagsson

The festivities begin on the 23rd, with the eating of skate. This is also the day when most families decorate their Christmas tree. On the 24th, aðfangadagur, Christmas arrives at 18:00. Before that people are busy taking their Christmas bath, finishing the food for the evening and wrapping the last of the presents.

Then at 18:00 the holy hours begin, lasting through Christmas day.

Christmas mass is usually at 18:00 and then sometimes there is a “midnight” mass at around 21:00. Many families sit down to eat their dinner at 18 sharp, but some wait until normal dinner time at 19h or 20h. Most families that don’t go to church on the 24th will still listen to the Christmas mass on the radio at 18:00.

After dinner and cleaning up, we gather around the Christmas tree and open up our presents. This can take a long time, as everyone is supposed to look at and admire each others new things. Afterwards it is common to open the Christmas cards (I open mine when they arrive though) and read them over a cup of coffee, some chocolate or smákökur.

This is the holiest of nights, the 24th, there is no playing cards or board games. During pre-Christianization, there was a lot of drinking, merriment, and playing cards during this time of the year which after Christianization, was frowned upon.

On the 25th, jóladagur, many go to church again (a holy event). The 25th and 26th, annar í jólum (the second day of Christmas) are very common for family gatherings and the eating certainly continues. The family gatherings often continue in the week between Christmas and New Years, so Christmas feels really long.

There is absolutely no Boxing Day or mellandagsrea in Iceland. We take our Christmas seriously and spend it with family, not running around in shops. Oh, and there is no getting drunk and partying, not until the 26th at least.

In my family we have a big tradition of playing board games in the days between Christmas and New Year. Friends and family come over and eat mandariner and smákökur over games of Trivial pursuit, Risk, Sequence etc. Plenty of food, family, friends, and the occasional Monopoly fight.

New Years Eve is also spent at home with the family. It is not until after midnight people would go out to meet friends and go dancing.

Christmastime is incredible dark and long for us in Iceland so we take the holidays seriously. It is a time to splurge on fresh meats and sweets, since these were/are luxury items, and reflect upon the year with families.

Here’s to wishing you a God Jul!

Saint Lucia Day – Candles, Glögg, & Saffron Buns {Recipes}

Today is St. Lucia Day (Sankta Lucia Dag), a day to celebrate light and saffron rolls in Sweden.

If you have always wondered about girls wearing candles on their head, this is the holiday to do so!

A rather unusual Luciafirande at Erikdalsbadet, one of the major swimming houses in Stockholm
water lucia fest stockholm sweden

A bunny’s lucia by Matsamats
Pelles Luciatåg och tävling131

Typical Luciakonsert

And on this day, the luciatåg (Lucia participants) give out lussebullar (saint lucia buns or saffron buns) and glögg (mulled wine) to guests.

Here’s my recipe for lussebullar for both American and Swedish kitchens. The difference is that the Swedish recipe has quark (a hung yogurt) while the American one calls for more butter. Saffron dries bread out easily and the quark/butter does a good job of keeping the buns soft and moist.

Still if you make them, plan to eat within a day or two and keep them well stored and away from air.

American St. Lucia buns recipe

1 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
6 -6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
raisins to decorate
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns – can omit

See directions below.

Svenska lussekatter recipe

50 g (1 3/4 oz.) yeast
5 dl (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) milk (I use 3%)
150g (5 1/4 oz.) butter
250 g (8.8 oz.) Quark (called kesella in Swedish), a kind of curd cream
2 dl (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 envelopes saffron (1 gram) or a large pinch of high quality Spanish saffron
1 teaspoon salt
16-17 dl (6 3/4 cups) flour, probably more if the dough is sticky
Raisins for garnish
1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the buns – can omit

Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until warm to touch. If you have a thermometer, it should be around 36-37 degrees but no more.

Crumble saffron threads into melted butter/milk. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to an hour. This intensifies the saffron flavor and cools the butter/milk down if it was too hot.

Crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Pour a little of the warm milk mixture in bowl and mix until all the yeast has dissolved. Mix in the rest of the liquid. {If the liquid is too warm it will kill the yeast. Hence I go for the lukewarm method – just warm to touch. And cold liquid will also kill the yeast.}

Mix kesella, sugar and salt.

Combine two together (yeast/milk/butter and kesella/sugar).

Start adding the flour a little at a time and work the dough until smooth. Add more flour until it stops being sticky. The dough should be soft to touch.

Cover the dough with a moist paper towel (keeps the dough from drying out) and let rest and rise at room temperature. About 45-60 minutes.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it a few minutes. Again, the dough should be light and fluffy to the touch.

To make it easy to keep the roll sizes even, divide the dough into 25-28 pieces.

Stretch out dough into a “snake” (long piece) and then twist the ends towards the center. One end is twisted clockwise, the other counterclockwise.

The buns should look like giant letter “S”-ess. Put them on a sheet that is lightly greased or lined with baking paper.

Press the raisins in the two centers and then let ferment additional 15-25 minutes to double the size. This second rise should not be forgotten!

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Whisk up an egg with a tablespoon milk and brush the buns with the mixture. You can also skip this if you want to keep the buns vegetarian.

Bake in middle of oven about 5-10 minutes until they become golden brown. Watch them carefully so they do not burn! Don’t leave the kitchen, these buns are fast cooking and require no more than 10 minutes to bake.

Remove the buns and let them cool on a grate. Nice and warm, they’re ready to eat now!

Enjoy lussekatter with a glass of milk or glögg.

Glögg (Mulled Wine)
If you cannot buy mulled wine at the store, you can easily make your own.
This recipe makes around 8-10 little cups for friendly faces and uses a full bottle of wine.

You can adjust the recipe accordingly to your preferences and tastes.

1 bottle red wine
1-2 cups rum (dark is more flavorful)
1 cup sugar

1 Star Anise
4-10 Cardamon pods or 2 tsp Cardamon powder
3-4 Cinnamon sticks broken into pieces or 1 tbsp Cinnamon powder
4-5 Clove pieces or 1 tsp Clove powder
1 inch piece Ginger – smash or chop into little pieces to make easier to diffuse
1/2 small Bitter Orange
1/2 tsp Nutmeg – can skip
2 tsp Dark chocolate Powder – can skip
Raisins and blanched almonds – for each cup. A surprise yummy in every cup!

Mix the wine, sugar, and all the spices and put on medium low heat. Keep the rum for later.

For the first 5-7 minutes, stir so the sugar dissolves.

You can then put the wine on low heat (setting 3 or 4 on a dial of max 10) for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and it doesn’t boil.

Add the rum and increase the heat to medium. Stir for another 10 minutes. It’s important to not let this boil since the alcohol will then burn off and disappear.

Strain the liquid and serve hot with a few pieces of raisins and almonds in each cup.

Enjoy glögg with piping hot lussebullar and Christmas music by candlelight and you’ll be celebrating St. Lucia Day Swedish style!

Swedish Christmas Julbord Foods- Handy Dandy Translation Guide

Christmastime in Sweden means julbord. It is a traditional Christmas dinner. The julbord is a smörgåsbord, a collection of dishes from cold to hot served on a table, like a buffet.

Families have a julbord on Christmas Eve but companies also have a julbord at a Christmas party. If you will be celebrating julbord with your company or family, I created a Swedish to English guide to all foods served at the dinner.
Christmas smörgåsbord
You can download two different versions: a three page guide in pretty larger font or a two page guide (perfect for front and back printing) in small font.
Pretty three page julbord guide
Easy to print two page julbord guide

Feel free to share and print the guide as much as you want with friends but please give credit and share the link love.

And here’s the guide below to enjoy. There are over 130 delicious foods! {Okay… lutefisk is not so tasty} Just remember to pace yourself, or your stomach will blow up, literally. :-)

The Swedish Julbord is traditionally had in “plates” versus courses. Each plate has a different theme: herring, fish, cold meat, vegetables, etc. Today it is not strictly observed and you can condense/mix plates.

First Plate

  1. Inlagd sill – Pickled herring (not surströmming!)
  2. Rökt matjessill – Smoked herring with spices
  3. Matjessill – Herring with spices
  4. Senapssill – Mustard herring
  5. Löksill – Onion herring
  6. Ansjovis – Anchovies
  7. Currysill – Curry flavored herring
  8. Havtornsill – Sea-bucktorn herring
  9. Sherrysill – Sherry flavored herring
  10. Tegnérsill – Herring w/ crème frâiche and chili
  11. Chilisill – Chili flavored herring
  12. Apelsin- och rosmarinsill – Orange- rosemary herring
  13. Kräftströmming – Baked herring with dill and tomato puree.
  14. Ansjovisströmming – Baked herring with anchovies, cream, onion, and dill.
  15. Kaviarströmming – Baked herring with caviar
  16. Ört- och vitlöksgravad strömming – Baked herring with herbs and garlic.
  17. Löjromsströmming – Fine Swedish caviar with herring. Mixed with sour cream, mayonnaise and spices, served cold.
  18. Stekt inlagd strömming – Fried pickled herring
  19. Matjessilltårta – Herring pie made w/ eggs
  20. Löjromsägg – Hard boiled eggs topped with Swedish caviar
  21. Skagenägg – Hard boiled eggs topped w/ shrimp
  22. Laxägg – Hard boiled eggs topped with salmon
  23. Sillsallad – Herring salad
  24. Second Plate

  25. Gravad lax – Cured salmon
  26. Kallrökt lax – Cold-smoked salmon
  27. Varmrökt lax – Smoked salmon
  28. Portvinslax – Salmon infused with port wine
  29. Inkokt lax – poached salmon
  30. Laxtartar – Raw salmon (similar to steak tartar)
  31. Laxpaté – Salmon pate
  32. Gubbröra – “old dude’s salad” – hard boiled eggs with anchovies, red onions, dill and sour cream.
  33. Rökta räkor – Smoked shrimp
  34. Kräftskagen – Crayfish sandwiches – made with dill, sour cream, caviar.
  35. Skaldjursterrin – Shellfish soup
  36. Confiterad röding – Char confit
  37. Skaldjurssallad – Shrimp and mussel salad
  38. Pastramilax – Sauteed lax with four peppers and honey/citrus
  39. Hovmästarsås – also called gravlaxsås – Mustard sauce with dill
  40. Honungssenapscrème – Honey mustard cream
  41. Pepparrotsdressing Citron – Horseradish citrus dressing
  42. Chilicrème – Chili cream
  43. Örtagårdssås – Garden herb sauce
  44. Saffrans- och apelsinaioli – Saffron- orange aioli
  45. Third Plate

  46. Julskinka – Christmas ham
  47. Rullsylta – Rolled thin flanks (pork, veal) boiled
  48. Kalvsylta – jellied veal
  49. Leverpastej – Liver pate
  50. Lantpaté – Chicken liver with spices
  51. Fasanterrin – Pheasant terrine (slow cooked soup)
  52. Rökt lammstek – Smoked lamb
  53. Lammterrin – Lamb terrine (slow cooked soup)
  54. Pomeransjulanka- Christmas duck w bitter orange
  55. Kycklingleverparfait – Chicken liver parfait
  56. Kycklinggalantine – Chicken galantine w veal/pork
  57. Renkorv – Reindeer sausage
  58. Älgkorv – Elk sausage
  59. Tjälknöl – Norrlands elk. Baked in the oven on low heat for several hours
  60. Fårfiol – cured, salted leg of mutton (sheep)
  61. Kroppkaka – Potato, meat dumplings
  62. Tillbehör – side dishes

  63. Våra senapsfavoriter – Selection of mustards
  64. Cumberlandsås – Cucumber salad
  65. Cornichons – French pickles
  66. Äppelmos – Apple sauce
  67. Syltlök – Onion relish
  68. Pepparrot – Horseradish
  69. Picklade grönsaker – Pickled vegetables
  70. Apelsin- och aprikoschutney – Orange, apricot chutney
  71. Västeråsgurka – large, famous, salty pickle
  72. Pressgurka– sliced pickle w pepper, vinegar sugar
  73. Rödbetssallad – Beet salad
  74. Syltad svamp- Mushroom preserve
  75. Fourth Plate

  76. Köttbullar – Swedish meatballs
  77. Isterband – Pork potato sausages
  78. Kåldolmar – Cabbage rolls filled with rice
  79. Revbensspjäll – Roasted pork ribs
  80. Julgryta – Christmas stew with figs, cinnamon and tenderized cow shoulder pieces
  81. Prinskorv – Prince sausage
  82. Janssons frestelse – Jansson’s Temptation – Casserole of potatoes, cream, onions, anchovies.
  83. Dopp i grytan – Sauce made from leftover bits of christmas ham. Bread is typically dipped into this
  84. Wallenbergare – Ground veal, cream and onions
  85. Lutfisk – lye fish – salted/cured white fish; gelatinous in texture, has a pungent odor.
  86. BBQ-rökt oxkarré – BBQ smoked meat
  87. Vedugnsgrillad pomeranskyckling – Wood fired roasted chicken with bitter orange.
  88. Tillbehör – side dishes

  89. Rödkål – red cabbage
  90. Brunkål – Boiled and fried white cabbage cooked with vinegar, salt, and syrup
  91. Långkål {grönkäl} – Kale
  92. Lutfisksås och kryddor – Lutefish sauce with spices
  93. Gröna ärtor – green peas
  94. Stekta champinjoner – sautéed mushrooms
  95. Kokt potatis – Boiled potatoes
  96. Kokta rotfrukter – Boiled root vegetables
  97. Brysselkål – Brussels sprouts
  98. Rårörda lingon – Mashed lingonberries
  99. Fifth Plate

  100. A variety of salads are served. Ginger (ingefära), rödkål (red cabbage), romaine (romaine), morot (carrot), betor (beets), fänkål (fennel), granatäpple (pomegranate), nötter (nuts) are popular ingredients.
    Greens are not a big part of the julbord though.
  101. Sixth Plate

  102. A variety of local Swedish cheeses (Västerbottenost, Boxholm, Smålandsost, etc) and international favorites are served.
  103. Vikabröd
  104. Mjukt tunnbröd – Soft flatbread
  105. Hårt tunnbröd – Hard/crispy flatbread
  106. Surdegsbröd – Sourdough
  107. Vörtlimpa – Christmas bread – dark bread with christmas spices
  108. Kavring – Dense, dark rye bread
  109. Husåknäcke – Huså’s (a company) crispy bread
  110. Valnötsbröd – walnut bread
  111. Fikonbröd – fig bread
  112. Veteknäcke – Wheat crispy flat bread
  113. Seventh Plate

  114. Ris à la Malta med mandel – Cold rice pudding whipped with whipped cream and almonds
  115. Grynkaka – cold rice pudding with saffron
  116. Fruktsallad – fruit salad
  117. Mandelmusslor med hjortron – Almond cookies with cloudberry jam
  118. Småländsk ostkaka – Småland’s cheesecake
  119. Chokladmousse – Chocolate mousse
  120. Kryddbavaroise – Spiced bavarian cream
  121. Päron- och mandelkaka – Pear-almond cake
  122. Crème caramel – Flan
  123. Äppelterrine med kanel och hasselnötter – Apple terrine with cinnamon and hazelnuts (usually has no flour)
  124. Mandarinmousse – Mandarin orange mousse
  125. Saffranspannkaka – {Gotland} Saffron pancakes
  126. Frukter – an assortment of winter fruits like dadlar (dates), fikon (figs) and satsuma oranges
  127. Tillbehör

  128. Vispgrädde – Whipped cream
  129. Rårörda bär – Berry sauce
  130. Saftsås – Saft sauce
  131. Eight Plate

  132. Klenäter – Swedish small fried pastry dough – similar to donuts, possibly originated in Germany
  133. Struvor – Rosette-styled deep fried pastry (donut)
  134. Chokladtryffel – chocolate truffle
  135. Ischoklad – mini chocolate cup candies
  136. Knäck – Crack – hard coffee
  137. Pepparkakor – Gingerbread cookies
  138. Marsipan – Marzipan
  139. Blandade nötter – Mixed nuts
  140. Marmelad – Marmalade
  141. Saffransskorpor – Saffron biscotti
  142. Nötskorpor – Nut biscotti
  143. Hallongrottor – Thick cookies with raspberry jam
  144. Kladdkaka- Gooey chocolate cake

And make the julbord food yourself with Real Ordinary Swedish Meal Time

Q&A on American and Swedish Christmas Traditions

I’ve been thinking about what makes Swedish Christmas different from American Christmas. After emailing with a friend back home in America, I realized there’s so many Swedish traditions not found in America and vice versa.

I put together a list of questions and answers on how Christmas is celebrated in each of the countries. This is thanks to my friend EC who bombarded me with similar ones by email and chat.

When is Christmas celebrated?
United States – 25th – Christmas Day. In the morning families enjoy sticky/cinnamon buns for breakfast. After breakfast they open presents, starting with the stocking. Stockings are the large “socks” hung over a fireplace. They have small goodies, especially candies and favorite snack in there.

Christmas dinner is similar to the Thanksgiving dinner. There is mashed potatoes, stuffing, bread, pies, cookies, but instead of turkey most families have a honey baked ham.
Sweden – 24th – Christmas Eve. Families start the festivities by watching Kalle Anka Önskar God Jul, a Disney collection of songs from the last sixty years. During the show, they eat pepparkakor and drink glögg (Swedish mulled wine). Then for dinner, Swedes partake in the famous Christmas smörgåsbord called Julbord; which is a collection of different foods.

On Christmas Day Swedes rest and enjoy a smaller meal.
christmas stockings
Do you go caroling?
United States – Yes, it is common in neighborhoods with children that kids and parents go door to door singing Christmas songs. At the end of the evening, the group gathers at a home for hot chocolate and cookies.

Sweden – It’s very uncommon. But, in church, families gather to sing songs.

When do you put up the Christmas tree?

United States – The weekend after Thanksgiving which falls on the first Advent.

Sweden – On the third Advent or after. It is not uncommon to put up the tree just a few days before Christmas Eve.

What are the most popular decorations?

United States – Wreaths, Christmas lights, and stockings. And when it snows, there’s always Mr. Snowman.

Sweden – Christmas stars to represent the town of Bethlehem and candle lights. Both are displayed in the windows.

What kinds of sweets do you eat?

United States – Cookies are most popular during the holidays. Everything from traditional chocolate chip to peppermint bark to decorated sugar cookies. Candy canes are well known to hang on the tree and of course eat.
Sweden – Swedes are not big on cookies but they enjoy other treats. The only cookie exception is gingerbread cookies called pepparkakor. The Swedish version are thin and crispy and more spicy and flavorful than the American counterparts, which are chewy-soft and sweeter.

Saffron buns, or lussebullar, are soft rolls made with saffron, kesella (quark), and touch of sugar. Swedes also enjoy a hard candy called knäck, literally meaning crack. It is hard toffee candy and can be flavored with almonds or exotic spices.

sticky buns for christmas

What kind of drinks do you have?
United States – Eggnog is a classic love-hate Christmas drink. Made with eggs and cream and flavored with anything from rum to cinnamon, eggnog is one of those drinks you imagine Auntie Georgia getting smashed on.

Similar to Swedish glögg, there is mulled wine and mulled cider. They are flavored with the traditional Christmas spices: cinnamon, clove, cardamon, star anise. For children there is hot chocolate with whipped cream and/or marshmallows. I’m a total kid; I love a dollop of whipped cream with dark hot chocolate.

Sweden – Glögg is the ubiquitous choice of drink to have on any cold afternoon or evening. Drop a few raisins and blanched almonds and you have the perfect strong drink to survive the Swedish winter. For toasting and Christmas dinners, there is aquavit or snaps. Children and non-drinkers can enjoy julmust, a Christmas cola soda, or a non alcoholic version of glögg.

What food do you leave out for Santa (Jultomten)?
United States – Cookies and milk. Any sort of cookie will do but most popular are sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and gingerbread cookies.
Sweden – Risgynsgröt. It is a rice pudding with cinnamon and brown sugar. Some tales call for a pat of butter on top of the pudding to ensure Jultomte does not break out in a rage.

What does Santa (Jultomten) look like?

United States – The American version of Santa can be credited to the Dutch’s Sinterklaas, cartoonist Thomas Nast, and folklore from other countries.

The modern version of Santa we know today is based on Coke-Cola’s creation by Haddon Sundblom in 1931. He based the modern day St. Nick on Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) and Nast’s work from 1862.

Santa Claus is seen as jolly, fat, well tempered and with a large white beard and red outfit.

Sweden – Santa is known as Jultomten in Sweden and julnisse in Norway. Jultomten derives his name from tomte, a small man living in a farm who worked using magic. The tomte could be very kind and bestow gifts but also very moody and sometimes borderline sociopath. In folktales he’s known to kill a cow out of anger for not receiving his pat of butter on risgrysgröt and beating those who do not keep the house/farm well.

Jultomten however has a better temperament than the tomte. The name Jultomten came into use somewhere around the 1500-1600s. He rides on a giant goat, like Thor, and hands out presents.

Today’s Jultomten are similar to the American Santa Claus who is a fat, jovial, old man riding a sleigh. But you can still find the traditional jultomtar statues in the store; big hat, lots of hair, little nose, and faceless.

Note: Anyone who has more knowledge about how Jultomte derived his name from tomte and what he looked like in Sweden let me know. It’s tricky finding good information about jultomte in Sweden.

You can guess that our home is an amalgamation of both cultures with a dash of Indian (lots of color!) and Jewish (rugelachs, latkes and when younger, dreidels).

christmas in north carolina
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