Scandi festive traditions

Like many cultures around the world, Scandinavia has a history of traditions and celebrations around midwinter to bring a little light, hope and connection to this naturally dark time of year.

Unlike so many countries, Christmas in Scandinavia doesn’t start when the clocks go back in October. There aren’t decorations and gifts in the shops for months before the big day.

That said, there’ll be an advent candle in almost every home, or a more religious centrepiece with four advent candles, to count down to Christmas Day.

The biggest day in Scandinavia is Christmas Eve. Presents are opened, dinner is eaten, and families gather. Christmas Day is a quieter affair, made for reading books and celebrating peacefully.

The Swedish festival of light: St Lucia Day 

The real countdown to Christmas starts on 13th December, also known as St Lucia Day. As part of a sacred ceremony that has become part of the wider festive traditions, children dress all in white with candle wreaths around their heads to bring light to this midwinter celebration. From this point forward, Christmas really kicks in! 

Swedish Tomtes 

You’ve probably seen these little elf figures around. Believed to bring luck to the homes they live in, a Swedish tomte is a cheeky and generous character that sits on a mantelpiece or shelf throughout the winter. In Swedish folklore, the tomte was thought to chop firewood and do other helpful tasks around the home. These days, he’s part of the gift giving traditions, and beloved by adults and children alike. 

Christmas Eve

The biggest day in Scandinavia is Christmas Eve. Presents are opened, dinner is eaten, and families gather. The Christmas table piled with delicious treats is a genuine sight to behold!

Christmas Day

Christmas Day itself is a quieter affair, made for reading books and celebrating peacefully.

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