Christmas Eve is the time where Swedes celebrate. There is a lot of waiting, a lot of preparing, and a lot of excitement in the air. 😊
We used those last few hours to do last minute preparations, to deliver chocolates and cards to neighbourhood friends, and the children gave eachother, and us, the presents they had bought, and made.
At 3pm, it is traditional that everyone watches the annual Christmas Disney hour on television. This is a culmination of different Disney clips throughout the years, from very old, to very new, with a completely new one added to the end each Christmas. It’s a tradition in Sweden that the family gather around the television in this last minute of relaxation before the guests arrive, in anticipation of ‘Jul Tomten’ (Father Christmas).
And so Jul Tomten came, and sat on his chair giving out presents, asking the children if they’d been good this year, and joking about getting ‘soft packets’ (which ultimately mean clothes!). Actually our Jul Tomten was very funny this year, and had everyone in peals of laughter. 😂
After Jul Tomten left, and the presents were opened, came the Christmas dinner. Different kinds of pickled herring, ham with mustard, boiled potatoes, root vegetable gratang, egg halves with prawns, meatballs, chipolata sausages, Christmas bread and crackers, and cheese. Followed by Christmas porridge – with one almond in – a surprise for anyone who gets the almond, for they then will be married within the year….
I can’t pretend that I don’t miss the English Christmas dinner, but over the years I have come to appreciate and enjoy the Swedish one – and I daresay I would even miss it if I was to move back to England.
After dinner, the adults played a present game, which involves rolling a dice to get a 6 or a 1, to attempt to get the wrapped gift you have your eyes on – despite the fact that you have no idea what the gift might be! It is a lot of fun. We played it for the first time last year, and this year invited Leon and Maya to join in.
And so Christmas Eve in Sweden ends. But in England we are just beginning – and I know that my children, at least, are going to sleep in tje anticipation that Father Christmas will come in the night to leave gifts in their stockings.
So today is Christmas Day. For me, this will always be the ‘real’ Christmas – this is, after all, the day that Jesus was born, and the reason that we celebrate Christmas, whether you believe or not.
When I moved to Sweden eight years ago, I usedto feel quite sad that Christmas Day was left feeling ’empty’, after all the madness and festivities of Christmas Eve. But now I actually feel thankful. In Sweden much focus is put on the food, and on the presents from Jul Tomten, and I feel that a lot of the Christian tradition, and our reason for celebrating, whether you believe or not (that I was brought up with anyway), gets pushed aside – almost completely ignored.
And so I actually have begun to feel relieved, that after the revelry of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day can be calm, and a time to reflect, to be together and appreciate eachother and the world we live in.
So today, the children will open their stockings (actually the smalls already have!), but after this, when most of the day is left, we will spend time together. We will eat a simple but good lunch, with the treat of the English Christmas Pudding for desert ; we will spend time playing those new board games we were given and crafting with new kits ; we will spend time creating snacks for the birds and decorating their tree ; we will take a walk outside, and appreciate the nature around us ; we will read the story of Christmas, and move Jesus in to the crib, ready for the Three Kings to start their journey, and we will light our last, and fifth candle on our advent wreath, for Christmas Day.
And so I leave you with three pictures – of Jul Tomten alone, and with the smalls, and of the smalls eagerly opening their stockings early this morning. I couldn’t get photos of Leon and Maya I’m afraid – which was a shame, because they both dressed up and looked lovely – and Leon especially looked stunning and very grown up in one of Richard’s dark blue shirts. 😊😘