Swedish Christmas

Christmas is over… In order to keep the Christmas spirit for a little longer I’ll describe my holidays in Sweden. It was my first non-Polish Christmas and I have to admit I liked it.

Before you ask let me just say that there was no snow. It started to snow on the way to the airport and covered everything very quickly. My girlfriend comes from Mariefred, a small town 30 mins by train from Stockholm so it is in the south and apparently snow does not fall until beginning of year. But I guess it’s time to start the post.

The Swedes, although they have a relaxed attitude to church and religion have a lot of cool customs. Celebration begins on Christmas Eve, just like in Poland. And here was the first shock for me. It’s my own choice that I usually fast on Christmas Eve, and this is due to the fact that there is a lot of good food in the evening 🙂 We started with late breakfast and around 2 pm the time had come for Fika or coffee break. Swedes are crazy about coffee, they drink a lot of it. This was my third visit to Sweden and I stopped counting how many cups of coffee I drink a day. So we had coffee with cake.

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Fika or a coffee break

At 3 pm every year on TV you can see Kalle Anka… Donald Duck. A collection of short films with various Disney characters. It’s like Christmas in Poland with Deluge on TV 😉 In the meantime we managed to hang in the window oranges studded with cloves – they smell amazing! If you wander to Sweden during the holiday season, you’ll see lit stars hanging in almost every window – it looks very festive and cosy.

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Star in the window

Around 6 pm we sat down to dinner (my little belly was full already) and a surprise – they serve meat. We had famous Swedish meatballs, sausages, home-made ham. There were, of course, herring salads and potato casserole with anchovies. There was also home-baked (just for Christmas) bread, with cinnamon and cloves – yummy. As my girlfriend’s father comes from western Sweden he served homemade cheese Äggost (literally egg cheese), which in the West is consumed with savoury food and in the East as a dessert. I missed a dried-fruit compote served in Poland but there was delicious English beer and a shot of schnapps Akvavit with the obligatory song before drinking 🙂

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Table is ready. You can see food and schnapps

We ended the day with… coffee and presents 🙂

Christmas Day is celebrated in the same way as in Poland but this time Polish dishes were served under the Swedish roof. Brought from London, homemade bigos (Hunter’s Stew) and barszcz (beetroot soup) with delicious pierogi (dumplings) with sauerkraut and mushrooms. Food quickly disappeared from the plates. After the food I served  a shot of very well chilled Gorzka Żołądkowa (Polish herbal vodka). Bigos and Gorzka Żołądkowa are permanent additions to the menu at our Polish-Swedish house in London. When I first described the ingredients of the stew, my girlfriend was very skeptical. The smell of cooked sauerkraut only strengthened these fears, but it was enough for her to try it once, and if it was up to her she would send me into the kitchen every other week to cook bigos 🙂

Of the traditions that were once practiced in my girlfriend’s house I liked most… dancing around the Christmas tree. It is a pity that they don’t do it anymore. Usually the head of the family dresses up as Santa Claus (tomten). During the holidays everyone drinks a lot of Julmust, carbonated beverage that tastes a bit like cola made 20 years ago in Poland.

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Julmust

Although the Swedes are not very religious, many people go to Christmas Mass. We unfortunately didn’t make it this year.

Overall I had a very nice time and although I missed my family a bit, wafer and carp, I tried to learn as much as possible. And eat as much as possible 🙂

Happy New Year!

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