The Three Kings Are Approaching…..

…at our nativity scene, which I absolutely love.

Although our nature shelf is looking positively Spring like with the greenery, the red tulips, and the lack of snow outside….! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

   
    
   

Christmas Time In Sweden

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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. ๐Ÿ˜‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜

   
   

Christmas Presents

I havn’t really blogged much about the presents the children have made, but they have, as is usually the case, made some lovely presents. For their teachers they have drawn Christmas designs on cups, made bead plate Christmas trees, and homemade toffee sweets. And for their Swedish relative, with whom we spend the Christmas celebrations, they have been (again) designing cups, giving their homemade (at school) mustard in pots, sewing Christmas tree decorations, and designing motifs on candles.

And I just managed to snap a few pictures of the one Maya designed for her aunt….๐Ÿ˜Š

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Lucia, End Of Term & This Week In General

Finally, after a week, and all four children have gone through the stomach bug, we seem to be in the clear…though Ted seems to now have picked up a cold…๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Last Sunday it was Lucia. We had a lovely morning in the church watching our little gingerbread man in the ‘Lucia tรฅg’, singing all the classic songs.

(Unfortunately, WordPress seems to be doing it’s usual thing of being inconsistent again, and I can’t seem to download the photos….โ˜น…I shall have to try in a while..)

Despite sickness, we had a pleasant Lucia afternoon, with saffron buns and hot chocolate, and watching ‘Frosty the snowman’ with the smalls.

The end of term has come for the schools now, and we have three weeks of holiday.

Leon’s teacher (she must be one of the kindest teachers ever!) took the class to the cinema to see the new ‘Star Wars’ film.

Maya and Alfie’s school had their annual ‘ljus vandring’ (candle walk) through the forest, which was as magical as ever, despite the rain. And let’s not forget the ‘glรถgg’ (like a non-alchoholic mulled wine) and gingerbread biscuits at the end of the walk. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Maya’s class, in their outdoor woodwork classroom, have been working on making a big wooden ‘Julbok’ each (a Christmas mountain goat, which is a Swedish folktale tradition left from pagan times), which, with their parents, they were to decorate with straw or pine branches. We decorated ours with straw, and wonderful he looks guarding the front door together with the pine branch ‘Tomte’ Maya made at scouts…

It does seem that we are ahead of ourselves this Christmas. The Christmas cards have been sent, the presents bought, the house is decorated, and we have had a busy week of baking saffron buns and gingerbread biscuits (may I just tell you that we had all four children around the table doing this, organised solely by Leon and Maya!), and last weekend we made three different kinds of Christmas sweets ‘is-choklad’ (ice chocolates), ‘mint kyssa’ (mint kisses) and ‘knรคck’ (a nutty toffee, with no direct ย translation).

We just have to get the tree up, and we’re ready! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ‘

Now I’ll see if I can sort out those photos! ๐Ÿค”

 

Christmas Crafts At Playgroup

I love Ted’s playgroup. The ladies that run it are amazing. He loves it too. We’re so lucky to have found it.

Today they had organised a ‘Christmas craft morning’ with the parents – it was lovely.

As always, the atmosphere was lovely and calm, they had fun crafts for us to do with the children, they had a lovely ‘fika’ (snack), and everything was amazingly organised!

Here are a few pictures of the morning. Oh, and a picture of Ted in his favourite room – the ‘kudd’ (pillow) room! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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Now We Know ‘Jul Tomten’ Is For Real….

Today Alfie understood that Jul Tomten / Father Christmas / Santa, is ‘for real’.
Why? Because he’s seen him of course!
Where? Right here, in Sweden, in Dalarna, in a little place called Mora, in ‘Tomteland’….

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…there he sat, in his own little post office, reading Christmas lists from children all over the world – yes, ALL OVER! He even had them on his wall ….

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He had a wall full of clocks telling him the time around the world….

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….and a place he hung up his jacket….

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….beautiful decor…

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He allowed Alfie to write a wish list for next year – if he promised to be good….

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Then he went for a walk..

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…..we saw his sleigh…

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…his reindeer…

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….and his little cottage…

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…with his bed…

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….his nightgown…

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…his rocking chair by the fire….

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…the globe that he uses to guide his way…

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….the place where he wraps the presents…

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…and the tree that he puts them round, all ready for next year….

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Oh yes, he’s real alright – we’ve seen him. And his sleigh. And his reindeer.

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It must be true. ๐ŸŽ…

God Jul!

As is always the case in Sweden, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, rather than the 25th.
We started ours with a beautiful sunrise around 10am…

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…and while the older ones went ski-ing, the younger ones had fun in the snow…

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After everyone gets dressed up, at 3pm it’s time for the Disney Christmas classics (a Swedish tradition)…

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…before we crept over to our relatives on the other side of the lane…

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Time for dinner…pickled herring in various sauces, egg halves with caviar, boiled potatoes, ham, Christmas sweet breads, followed by more boiled potatoes, meatballs, chipolata sausages, salads, and lastly comes the Christmas porridge with the one almond inside (whoever gets it is predicted to marry in the year).
Then there tends to be a lot of waiting…during which time Maya invited everyone to open her homemade ‘smรคllkaramell’ filled with marshmallow tomtens (Father Christmas’)…

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..and a little game playing…

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…before there was a big bang at the door, and the familiar question of “are there any nice children around here?”…..

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Tomten takes a seat, and starts to hand out gifts….

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Sometimes he needs a little help…

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..and sometimes a little company…

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….before he leaves for other places….and the opening of gifts begins….

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Thank you ‘Jul Tomten’ … ๐ŸŽ…….and Happy Christmas to you all ๐Ÿ™‚