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How to better understand Scandinavians this Christmas

How to better understand Scandinavians this Christmas

Most Scandinavians really, really like Christmas. Even if they say they don’t, they probably hum jingle bells in secret and wraps presents when nobody’s looking. We’re really good at Christmas and we find joy in even the darkest days of the year.


Call it what you want – we have many names for it: Hygge, Koselig, Mysigt. That state of mind where you relax with people you care about and time doesn’t exist. Christmas is high season for hygge. No, you can’t buy it. You have to create it and BE in it.

snow and winter Sweden

We enjoy this kind of snow.

Fluffy, beautiful, delicious, cotton wool snow.

unknown man with frosty beard


We’re not cold! It’s warm inside and cold outside. We have heating, log fires, stillongs and kärlek.


Advent Calendars

Little chocolates every day? Pah! Do it like us and give a present for each day in December. Now THAT’S an advent calendar. For both kids and adults. Yes, it’s a thing: One present every single day.


Sundays in Advent

The last four Sundays before Christmas, Scandinavians meet up for glögg (mulled wine) parties, eat ginger biscuits and get red ears and cheeks from the mulled wine. It’s a real thing and it’s important. Christmas begins the first Sunday in advent. One candle is lit every Sunday.  

xmas candles

Candles in the windows. ALL the windows.

Let’s face it: It’s dark. Very dark. Can’t see a darn thing anywhere. Most people have big stars or 7-candle bridges in the windows.

We have Christmas Beers and they are delicious.

The Danish Tuborg Julebryg is only available for 10 weeks out of the year and it is the 4th best selling beer in Denmark. Also, you get to wear blue hats and stuff. Usually served at all the

…Christmas Parties…

Going home drunk in the snow after the office do is awful. Watching someone else trying to get home and failing? Great.


Feast of St Lucia

13th December, every year – this happens all over the Nordic countries. In the dark, hundreds of candles and song, so sing in the light. Drink more mulled wine.

no no no

Real tree

Nobody has fake trees in Scandinavia. Just don’t go there. It’s a quick sure fire way to pure Scandi disbelief. We love our trees, our real trees.

In Denmark, they even dance around the tree and sing songs. Oh, and yes, they light real candles on the trees.


No tinsel

Does it require batteries, light up and sing a merry tune? We don’t want it. Does it sparkle in seven different colours? No thanks. Give us simple decorations. No tinsel. Add Christmas elves.

We get to celebrate the big day a day early

Our Christmas happens on Christmas eve 24th December (NOT on the 25th) – dinner, drink, tree, sing-song, presents.

Under no circumstances do we want to go to the pub on the 24th, or to a party, or to anywhere not involving people we really, really like. No. We won’t go.

Donald Duck (Kalle Anka)

At 3 pm, every year, especially in Sweden: Watch the Donald Duck Christmas Show from 1972. Cry when Jiminy Cricket sings ‘When you wish upon a star’ and feel blessed.


Tyrkey? No thanks.

Fed up with Turkey? Join us – in Scandinavia, Christmas dinners range from ham to roast pork, roast duck, sugar fried potatoes, smoked racks of lamb and, eh, cod steeped in lye (ehhh, yes, some do).


[who the hell invited the pineapple?]

Christmas Smörgåsbord

For Swedes, it’s Christmas Eve… For Danes and the rest, its all the other days: Bring out the herring, the aquavit, the left overs, the everything-you-can-think-of-table. Add beer. Aquavit.


Red noses, red cheeks, sneaky kisses under the mistletoe.

It’s also our thing. No, not mulled wine. We don’t add drabs of left over stuff to our glögg, nor do we add half a litre of orange juice. No. We carefully blend spices, sugar and red wine… heat it up and add secret yuletide cheer to every pot. Why is Glögg so much better than mulled wine? Cardamom, dried Seville orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and ginger are the scents of a truly Scandinavian Christmas. It makes us feel all warm and happy inside.

Things flavoured with saffron

Swedes and Norwegians eat Saffron buns. Actually, the Swedes will to flavour almost anything with saffron (drinks, biscuits, Semlor, cakes… ). The Danes eat little pancake balls called Æbleskiver. Over 100 million of those are eaten every year in Denmark (they really, really like them). Æbleskiver means apple slicers, although, oddly, rarely contain any apple.



Like a weirdly flat coke mixed with root beer. It’s available all through Christmas and outsells CocoCola by a mile. Do not attempt to separate a Swede from his Julmust drink


Like a raspberry fizzy soft drink. It’s available all through Christmas and outsells CocoCola by a mile. Do not attempt to separate a Norwegian from his Julebrus drink.

Also, don’t give Julmust to a Norwegian and don’t give Julebrus to a Swede. And the Danes only want the beer.


Father Christmas

We can’t agree on where he lives. The Danes are sure he lives on Greenland, the rest knows it is in the North Pole. Or in Finland. Or he doesn’t exist at all because we believe in the Christmas gnomes, not Santa (and then he is called Tomten or Nissen). It gets confusing. Anyway, he wears a red hat. He often visits the house in the afternoon and he looks like Uncle Björn.








90th Birthday – every year

We watch this clip every single New Year. Every single year – on the telly, over and over. Since the beginning of time, we have done this and we will continue. Same procedure as last year, James, same procedure as last year.

God Jul!

from all of us at



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