How to Celebrate Christmas like a Swede!

By: Tetiana Poliakova

It is difficult to express how much I love Christmas: all the bright decorations, time spent with your family, delicious food, and most importantly the cozy feeling inside. Can you blame me?

Anyhow, because of my strong dedication to Christmas, I decided to put together a quick guide on how to celebrate Christmas like a Swede. Consider it an early Christmas gift from me to you!

Because I wanted this to be as accurate as possible, I consulted a Swede. So, huge thanks for this blog post goes to Madeleine Lehander, a dedicated master’s students, a true friend, and an expert on Swedish traditions.

December 24th


 The final episode of the 24-day long Christmas calendar (Barnens adventskalender) airs.

The celebration officially begins!

Christmas calendar is a kids’ show that serves as a count-down for Christmas. It is popular in other Nordic countries as well, but it was first introduced in Sweden as a radio show in 1957. There are 24 episodes every year, and it always finishes on the day of the Christmas Eve. The best news is that it re-runs around four times on December 24th, so you don’t have to get up at 7am to watch it. Swedes, I applaud you for respecting my sleeping schedule!


 Breakfast is served!

For Christmas breakfast, Swedes would usually have risgrynsgröt, rice porridge. I know, it sounds intriguing. If you want to make it yourself, find a recipe from The Local here:


This is a time when many people attend Christmas church services.

Children often perform a nativity play describing events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.


Extended families gather for the julbord!

Julbord is the Swedish word for the Christmas spread, and it is simply delicious (also, way too much food!)


In the middle of julbord, the TV part of the Christmas starts!

I think this is something unique to Sweden. Basically, on December 24th, everyone watched the same TV shows all day. Right before 3pm, one of the Swedish celebrities lights a candle on TV and introduces all the traditional programs people are about to watch.


Everyone, and I cannot stress this enough, absolutely everyone, watches Kalle Anka och Hans Vänner önskar God Jul.

The direct translation is Donald Duck and His Friends Wish Everyone a Merry Christmas, but to non-Swedes, it is known as From All of Us to All of You.  

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It is time for Santa Clause (Jultomten) to visit!

As Madeleine told me the reason for the evening time is so it is dark enough for Santa to sneak out without being noticed. But let’s be real for a second. With winter darkness in Stockholm, Santa can sneak in and out the house any time he wants. Santa’s visit is ended with a dance around the Christmas tree as well as traditional Christmas songs.


Many watch another beloved TV-show called Karl-Bertil Jonssons Julafton.

Google it. It is worth a watch.


In a rare scenario that you got hungry after all the julbord food, you can give rice porridge another try.


Christmas wrap-up is linked to another TV-show, of course.

The same episode of Svensson, Svensson airs every year since 1994!

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December 25th

We finally got to the Christmas Day, and I am about to disappoint you. Most Swedes do not actually do much on the Christmas Day itself. It is often referred to as hemvändarghelg, or “homecoming weekend”. This means that once you are done celebrating with your family, you go out in your hometown and party like it’s 1999 with your friends that you might not have seen in a while (if you live away from your hometown, of course).

Okay, so here it is, a quick guide how to celebrate Christmas like a Swede. I hope you give it a try! Please, do not hesitate to DM me @tetiana_poliakova and let me know how it went!