Perhaps it’s the long winters that Nordic countries experience that mean their inhabitants are experts at Christmas – or Jul, and each country has it's own traditions.
The festive season in Sweden starts on St Lucia’s Day, a festival of light that once coincided with the winter solstice. Traditions saw a girl wearing a white gown and a candle crown leading a procession by candlelight. In Scandinavian homes, you’ll find even more candles out at Christmas, from real (yes real!) ones on trees to displays in windows.
A Nordic Christmas also has plenty of folklore tales to share. From the tomte to Iceland’s Yule Lads, (13 troll-like characters that are mischievous in the run up to Christmas), to the yule goat (Joulupukki in Finnish), known as the giver of gifts. There are many ways to embrace these festive folk traditions in your home too.
Sharing mealtimes is at the heart of a Scandi Christmas. In Sweden, a smörgåsbord is enjoyed on Christmas Eve.
In Denmark, the holiday officially begins on the 23 December, with a meal that includes grod, a traditional cinnamon rice pudding – meals shared on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are more elaborate, although Christmas morning starts with ableskiver, a Danish doughnut.
Head to Norway and the main celebrations are on Christmas Eve, with dinner at home, including gingerbread.
Christmas in Finland is not a one or two-day event, with Hyvää Joulua (Merry Christmas) wished weeks before and after Christmas.