“Sweden had a state church from the year 1500 to 2000, and thus Christmas is steeped in the Lutheran traditions,” says Ia Dübois, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington. “Advent is an important event with the lighting of the four Advent candles each Sunday. Christmas decorations are taken out on the first of Advent and include adventstjärna, a large electrically lit star made of wood, metal, or paper and is placed in the window, little elves, gingerbread houses, tomtar, and julbockar.”
The main meal, explains Dübois, is served on Christmas Eve and consists of a smorgasbord of meatballs, ribs, cold cuts, lutfisk, different kinds of herring and cabbage, and centers around the Christmas ham. And then there’s the dopp i grytan (dipping in the kettle) tradition, when you dip bits of bread in the broth leftover after boiling the ham. For dessert there’s risgrynsgröt (rice porridge) with a hidden almond.
“The one who gets it will have a prosperous year ahead,” Dübois says.
More on Christmas in Scandinavia