A Swedish Christmas is a long-drawn-out affair, starting with Advent at the beginning of December and not ending until Hilarymass on the 13th of January, when people “dance out the Christmas” and throw out the Christmas tree. To me Christmas has been the highlight of the year, because it’s tome of fixing and making, decorating and baking. Every day has its particulate tasks, so that everything will be ready by Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is the biggest day of the whole festival in Sweden. That’s when the whole country watched Christmas Cartoons on TV, then eat a huge “julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord and then Santa Claus arrives with a sack full of Christmas presents.
In Sweden Christmas comes knocking at the door on the first Sunday in December, and some year on the last Sunday in November (like this year). This is the first Sunday of Advent, when the countdown to Christmas Eve begins. The advent candles are brought out. They have a very special design and hold four candles, one of which is lit on the first Sunday, two on the second and so on, right down to Christmas Ever.
Picture from Dannesholk.se
The first day of December also marks the beginning of the advent Calendar, which was also a German invention . At the beginning of the 20th century, a young boy called Gerhard Lang kept pestering his mother to tell him how many days were left until Christmas Eve. Eventually she hit on the idea of baking 24th buns, numbered from 1-24. Later on, Gerhard, now a businessman, recalled his mother ingenious way of shutting him up. Using two sheets of paper, he constructed a calendar which has 24 little flaps with figures hidden behind them. That was in the 1920s. As a kid I always had an advent calendar of all kinds but the most enjoyable for them was the Swedish Television Advent Calendar, a special series which featured a new episode every day, based on whatever was hidden behind the “flap fo the day.” Even today, Swedish kids will not miss their Advent Calendar on television for anything.
Picture of Barbros adventskalender
From First Advent to Lucia which I told you about on Monday. There is more coming on Swedish Christmas and every post until the 24th I will post a food from the “julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord. Also there are two more giveaways coming before the 24th stay tuned.
Red cabbage ”rödkål”
Yields: serves 6-8
3 ½ lbs red cabbage
2 tbsp butter
½ cup corn syrup
3 tbsp red vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup red wine
Cut the cabbage into very fine strips. Melt the butter in a pot, add the cabbage to the pot and sauté and stir. Add the corn syrup and stir.
Peel, core and cut up the apples into small cubes. Add the apples and vinegar to the pot.
Add salt, pepper, and red wine.
Cover and simmer the cabbage for about 1 hour.
“Julbord” Christmas smörgåsbord Recipes: