Our Swedish Christmas - From Per's Perspective!

How do you celebrate Christmas? Since moving to Sweden (16 years ago - how crazy is that?!) - we usually have two celebrations - one in Sweden on 23rd and one in England on 25th. But this year, the entire English clan is coming to Sweden, so Per and the girls finally get to watch Kalle Anke (Donald Duck) at 3pm on Christmas Eve (a very Swedish tradition!). For my final post of the year with partner Skandinavisk - who tell the story of the Scandinavian Christmas / Winter through a collection of heavenly fragrances (discount at end of post!) - I thought I'd interview my husband Per about his thoughts on Swedish Christmas, and some of the traditions he loves the most!

When does Christmas begin for you?
The First Sunday of Advent - this is when we traditionally jular fram - start to put up Christmas decorations, play Christmas music etc.

What do you love most about this time of year? 
It gets very cold and dark as we near the winter solstice and Swedes tend to gravitate indoors. Christmas gives us a perfect excuse to hang out with friends over a glögg (spiced mulled wine) and pepparkaka (gingersnaps)!

What are your favourite family traditions? 
Every year we head out to the woods to chop down our tree. When I was at school, parents would organise a class trip and we'd all go out together and make a big event out of it. These days I love to continue this tradition with my family. In Sweden we're known for being fairly calm and democratic - but when we choose a tree, we can become pretty feisty! There are a lot of strong opinions about how a Christmas tree should look!

How do you decorate your home for Christmas?
I'm married to an interior-crazy woman so I don't get too much of a say these days (Editor's note: he so does) - but there are a few things that are important to me. I like to put traditional 7-arm candelabras and paper stars in the window. I also like the Christmas decorations to be cosy but not over the top - us Swedes don't tend to go all-in - for example, you rarely see colourful flashing Christmas tree lights or a Father Christmas and his sleigh on the roof!

What fragrances do you associate with Christmas?
The fresh scent of pine, orange, cloves, smoke from a crackling log fire, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom all remind me of Christmas. 

JUL (Christmas) scented candle with bold notes of baked gingerbread, melted honey, cloves and warm glögg. 

Where do you spend Christmas? 
We celebrate Christmas on Julafton (Christmas Eve) in Sweden. We have a big family gathering at my Father's house, which is in a fishing village further up the coast. Around midday, we all meet at a 'kalbadhus' (sauna pier) by the sea. The sauna is a great way to kick off the Christmas Eve celebrations as there's something really cleansing about heating up in a sauna and hopping in the cold sea - it really raises your spirits! We usually enjoy a few Christmas beers in the sauna too - just for good measure! 

The TRÆ (tree) scented candle is a wonderful reflection of the bright, fresh scent of the forest! 

How do you celebrate Christmas Eve?
When we arrive at my Father's, candlelit lanterns line the snowy pathway up to the door and a nice, warm mug of homemade glögg (spiced mulled wine) with almond and raisins awaits! At 3pm we all settle down to watch the 1958 Walt Disney film, From All of Us To All of You, affectionately referred to as Kalle Anke (Donald Duck) - even though we all know it off by heart! And then we tuck into a traditional Julbord (Christmas smorgasbord).

SNÖ (snow) scented candle with a fresh, crisp and icily dry scent infused with a hint of winter berries and frozen timber wood. 

Ah yes, the julbord! Can you tell us a little more about what this involves? 
It's a smorgasbord made up of different types of meat, fish and vegetable dishes. The fish part is my favourite - it includes different types of pickled herring (marinated by my stepmother), an assortment of salmon (warm smoked, cold smoked, gravlax etc.) prawns, and other delicacies! Our julbord also includes the traditional ham, sausages, green and brown cabbage, Jansson's Temptation (a potato dish with anchovies), meatballs and many, many other things! We all bring something with us so that no one is burdened with doing everything (we all have our own specialities - I'm on meatball duty!).

We accompany the julbord with Christmas beer (for the adults) and Julmust (for the kids - basically an adapted Christmas Coca-Cola). We also enjoy my Father's home-flavoured wormwood schnapps along with Christmas songs! In Sweden, we don't drink wine with the julbord but I've noticed my wife always sneaks in a glass or two!

When do you exchange presents?
In our family we only give presents to the children. They all stand at the window waiting for Tomten (Father Christmas) who appears in the garden with a lantern and a sack over his shoulder. It's met with squeals of delight and the children race to the door to greet him - it's such a wonderful sight! He asks "finns där några snälla barn?" (are there any good children here?). Unfortunately, I always tend to miss this moment as I've 'popped out' for an untimely errand ;).

What do you miss most when you spend Christmas in London? 
I take a lot of the traditions with me in my suitcase - including some of the julbord specialities and song sheets, so I can feel at home! I love the crackers (we don't have them in Sweden) the stockings are also fun, but I do think it's a shame that the rest of the world don't get to meet Tomten!

When do you take Christmas decorations down in Sweden?
We have a saying: tjugondag Knut dansas julen ut (on the twentieth day Knut, Christmas dances out). In other words, all our Christmas decorations are taken down on 13th January. This always stresses my wife as it's said to be unlucky to leave decorations up after Twelfth night (6th January!) in England!

Thank you PP! You've got me dreaming about Christmas Eve now - and that glass of wine with my julbord ;). In the meantime, we've got some Christmas shopping to do (I noticed that was included in your favourite traditions!). 

Speaking of which - if you feel like giving someone the gift of a home filled with the heavenly scent of the Scandinavian Christmas / winter, Skandinavisk are offering My Scandinavian Home readers 20% off the JUL (Christmas) scented candle and mini scented candle, TRÆ (tree) scented candle and mini scented candle, SNÖ (snow) scented candle and mini scented candle, NORDLYS (Aurora Borealis) scented candle and mini scented candle, ÖNSKA special edition giftset and the NORDEN mini giftset! To claim your 20% discount type in nikijul20 at checkout (note the small caps!) - valid until 16th December, 2019. Find out which countries they ship to here

I hope you enjoyed hearing Per tell a little more about our Swedish family Christmas - is there anything that stood out to you? Do you have any similarities in your country? I'd love to hear more about how you celebrate Christmas (or the holidays in general!). 

Have a cosy weekend friends!


PS I'll be back on Monday with a magical danish home decorated for Christmas - oh, and it involves a little colour too! Make sure you pop back! 

This was part of a paid partnership with Skandinavisk. All words and pictures are my own and I only ever work with brands that I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible.

Photos by me. Interior pictures of my home styled by Helen Sturesson.


  1. Lovely post but unfortunately I cannot get the code to work

    1. That’s strange! Please can you contact Skandinavisk directly? They will be able to help you. I don’t want you to miss out!

    2. Apologies Niki. It works when I use it via the link. Thank you.

    3. Great! I hope you enjoy your candles!

  2. This sounds like the most amazing way to celebrate Christmas. I would love to experience that one day. The focus seems to be on the family and the quietness of winter. It's lovely and so much better than what happens here in North America during that time.
    I am now curious what the Christmas Coca-Cola is.
    I hope you guys have a great Christmas this year with your families all together.

    1. My kids LOVE the julmust! You’ll have to come over to sweden one Christmas and enjoy a julbord! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too 😊

  3. Stand out: a sauna at the end of seaside pier! Do you take a cold plunge afterwards? Sounds so invigorating and a way to rev your metabolism before tucking into Julbord.

    1. Yes, the cold plunge is essential! It’s so invigorating, and the Christmas beer helps to warm you up afterwards too! 😊

  4. I've said this for my next life, I'm coming back Swedish! I know exactly how my home will look, how it will be decorated, where it will be, who will live in it! I used to work with a Swedish woman who would bring in Glogg (sp?) to our office every Christmas and I loved it SO much! Unfortunately, I've never been able to duplicate it. :(

    Love this post; thanks, Per!!! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.

    1. Sounds like you need to move to Sweden - if only for some real glögg!

  5. I am in north Argentina, so our Christmas is the opposite to yours: here we have about 30ºC at night after a torrid hot day of 40ºC or above, so usually adults drink lots of chilly beer or white wine. Since we´re latins, we sit at a big (sometimes extended) very noisy family table full of meat, sandwiches, roasted chicken & plenty of salads; and at midnight we make a toast with cider or champagne while children rush to the Christmas tree to see if Papa Noel already came with the presents. Have a very happy & blessed Christmas!

    1. I love the sound of an extended, very noisy family table, definitely my kind of Christmas!

  6. Swedish Christmas celebration sounds wonderful. Not sure I would want to do the sauna and then the plunging into the cold water, but when in Rome ....

    You mentioned brown cabbage - what is it?

    1. It takes quite a lot of will power to hop in - I’m not always the best at going in, I have to admit, but it does feel great afterwards! It’s white cabbage which you add syrup, margarine, salt, pepper and vegetable stock too.

  7. It's nice when you see such a great work! Continue writing

  8. Please can you tell me, what is the name of the sofa and of the firm, where you bought it?
    thanks, Ute

    1. Hi Ute, it’s a Söderhamn daybed / chaise lounges from Ikea with a Bemz cover. The easiest is if you take a look back at my post (my sitting room three different ways) from a few weeks back and there’s a better picture and a direct link to the cover I chose there. Do send me a mail if you can’t find it!

    2. Thanks a lot! Ute

  9. Christmas in Sweden sounds wonderful! Enjoy :)

    1. Thank you Emily! I’m sure your Christmas is equally wonderful! :)

  10. Beautiful things! I’m already in love with them. So stylish! Thank you for this interesting post and amazing pics.

  11. How lovely <3 Our Australian Christmas is bright and hot. Lots of beer/wine, seafood (not for me though because I'm allergic), swimming and platters. Such a lovely family day though.
    One thing I always enjoy at Christmas though is pfeffernusse!

    1. Love the sound of all that light! Sounds like a perfect day to me!


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