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11 Swedish Christmas Decorating Essentials (From Mari's Festive Home)

We're nearing the winter solstice, and I have to say, it's very dark here in Sweden right now. In fact, in the far North, the sun set a few days ago and will not reappear again for 24 days. Can you imagine? This is why the Scandinavians love to brighten up the darkness with levande ljus (candlelight) and delight the senses with the sweet smell off pepparkaka (gingerbread). Nature also plays a starring role - with moss, pine and fir, which is readily available in the forest - being a firm favourite.  In Mari Magnusson's home in Enk√∂ping, North West of Stockholm, candles light up her tables and sideboards and pine tree branches have been transformed into garlands, wreaths and simple yet pretty table displays. Welcome to Mari's mysigt (cosy) Christmas wonderland - and discover 11 swedish Jul essentials! 

1. Pepparkakshus: No Christmas in Sweden would be complete without a gingerbread house. Some buy kits, others go for their own handmade creation. Either way, they look pretty, smell divine, are fun to make and will likely leave you with burnt fingers (from the hot melted sugar 'glue'). You've been warned! Recipe available here

2. Pepparkaka hearts: all across the country children and adults alike will be rolling out gingerbread dough and cutting it into hearts (and other shapes). The sweet-smelling biscuits will then be hung from the tree, in the window, or arranged into a garland (or best of all, eaten!). 


3. Amaryllis: No Swedish home would be complete at an amaryllis - usually red but you also see white, and even a peach variety. 

4. Hyacinths: Whether planted in soil or wrapped in moss, these sweet smelling flowers are Jul staples! 

5. The pine (or fir) tree sapling: When you have little Christmas tree saplings going in your garden, it's just to go out and pick one and place it in water - and they look as pretty as can be. Plus, they can be re-planted once Christmas is over! Slightly tricker if you don't.  But little potted trees can look equally pretty and are more widely available. 

6. Sprigs of pine and alder cones: who needs expensive bouquets when a little sprig from a pine tree and alder tree cones can look equally pretty? Don't live next to a forest? Cut a few sprigs off the back of your Christmas - no one will ever notice! 

7. The wreath: Hung on the door, hanging from the ceiling, on the wall, in the window... there is no end to the different ways a Swede uses a wreath at Christmas! 

8. Candles: all hail the levande ljus. An essential element to any Scandinavian home in any shape or form - and the perfect way to brighten up the darkness!*

9. The Christmas flower and star: On the first Sunday of advent, pretty Christmas star lanterns appear in the window. Inside, paper flowers have become popular - and they're super simple to make

10. Adventsljusstakar: Not featured here (although, I'm sure Mari has one somewhere in the house!), these electric V-shaped candelabra have been placed in the windows of homes, schools and offices for centuries - and light up the windows throughout cities, towns and hamlets. 

11. The Christmas tree! No home would be complete without a Julgran - in whichever shape or size. Traditionally Swedes used real candles on a tree - and very occasionally still do**. But it's way more popular, practical and safe to use electric lights these days! 

So simply and so pretty! I love the essential Swedish Christmas decorations. 

Do you have any of these in your home?

I'd love to hear about the essential Christmas ingredients in your country too. 

See more pictures from Mari's home over on her lovely interior instagram feed @anangelinmyhome and baking feed: @anangelatmytable

Wishing you a cosy day!

Niki

Photography: Mari Magnusson 

*Important note with regards to candles: always place candles well away from anything flammable. Never leave a lit candle unattended (always blow them out before leaving a room). 

**Important note with regards to real Christmas tree candles: please be aware that using real candles on a tree requires a huge amount of vigilance. Only ever use real candles on a fresh tree (i.e. bring it in the day before Christmas). Place the candles well away from other branches. Never ever leave candles unattended, and always have sand or another type of fire extinguisher nearby. In all honesty, real candles look pretty but I would advise sticking to electric candles!  

LATEST COMMENTS:

  1. We have almost all of these as in this ethereal home + advent wreath with four candles (traditionally three purple, one pink; advent calendar for children; Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your home sounds wonderful at Christmas! My mother always has Pinsettia's too - such a beautiful Christmas plant!

      Delete
  2. What a Fantastic Post!! Love your work.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the US, Christmas trees typically have electric lights, and lots of ornaments. These can be vintage, home made, ribbons, or color themed. Most people have been collecting ornaments for years, so trees can be very sentimental. Wreaths are also very popular, and can be made from a wide variety of materials. Miniature villages are very popular, with little trees. Retro everything is popular again. especially the last couple of years, as are deer, both inside and out. Either hung off the mantel, staircase banners, or shelves, most homes have stockings. Again, these can be simple and homemade, or velvets and firs. Americans tend to go extreme at Christmas with outside lights, Santa and reindeer on the the roof and other decorss as toons in the yard. Many Americans tend to go overboard on gifts (guilty), but this year will be very different for many, including myself. I am just very grateful that those I love are safe, we have food, and honestly more gifts than we need. I am 1/2 Danish so have for the ladt few years been trying to become more familiar with their Christmas traditions, so I have many candles and paper stars. Many also do tons of Christmas’s baking, cookies, breads, etc. and many send Christmas cards to family and friends with updates on their lives. I’m sure I’m leaving some things out, but this is what I’ve come to know as traditional American Christmases.

    ReplyDelete
  4. In the US, Christmas trees typically have electric lights, and lots of ornaments. These can be vintage, home made, ribbons, or color themed. Most people have been collecting ornaments for years, so trees can be very sentimental. Wreaths are also very popular, and can be made from a wide variety of materials. Miniature villages are very popular, with little trees. Retro everything is popular again. especially the last couple of years, as are deer, both inside and out. Either hung off the mantel, staircase banners, or shelves, most homes have stockings. Again, these can be simple and homemade, or velvets and firs. Americans tend to go extreme at Christmas with outside lights, Santa and reindeer on the the roof and other decorss as toons in the yard. Many Americans tend to go overboard on gifts (guilty), but this year will be very different for many, including myself. I am just very grateful that those I love are safe, we have food, and honestly more gifts than we need. I am 1/2 Danish so have for the ladt few years been trying to become more familiar with their Christmas traditions, so I have many candles and paper stars. Many also do tons of Christmas’s baking, cookies, breads, etc. and many send Christmas cards to family and friends with updates on their lives. I’m sure I’m leaving some things out, but this is what I’ve come to know as traditional American Christmases.

    ReplyDelete
  5. In the US, Christmas trees typically have electric lights, and lots of ornaments. These can be vintage, home made, ribbons, or color themed. Most people have been collecting ornaments for years, so trees can be very sentimental. Wreaths are also very popular, and can be made from a wide variety of materials. Miniature villages are very popular, with little trees. Retro everything is popular again. especially the last couple of years, as are deer, both inside and out. Either hung off the mantel, staircase banners, or shelves, most homes have stockings. Again, these can be simple and homemade, or velvets and firs. Americans tend to go extreme at Christmas with outside lights, Santa and reindeer on the the roof and other decorss as toons in the yard. Many Americans tend to go overboard on gifts (guilty), but this year will be very different for many, including myself. I am just very grateful that those I love are safe, we have food, and honestly more gifts than we need. I am 1/2 Danish so have for the ladt few years been trying to become more familiar with their Christmas traditions, so I have many candles and paper stars. Many also do tons of Christmas’s baking, cookies, breads, etc. and many send Christmas cards to family and friends with updates on their lives. I’m sure I’m leaving some things out, but this is what I’ve come to know as traditional American Christmases.

    ReplyDelete

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