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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!

Niki

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.

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'Jul' Touches In My Home (Thanks to The Beautiful Georg Jensen Christmas Collectibles!)




Have you started decorating for Christmas (if you celebrate, of course!)? At home it has started to feel a lot like 'Jul' thanks to the beautiful Christmas Collectibles from Georg Jensen. I've always been curious about Georg Jensen since the iconic Danish brand has played a pioneering role in Scandinavian design for over 100 years - that's a century of timeless jewellery, home decor, silver and accessories! And then I discovered the annual Christmas collection - created in collaboration with a handpicked designer. This year, designer Sanne Lund Traberg worked together with Georg Jensen to create the 2019 Christmas Collectables which are based on classic yuletide symbols of love, togetherness and tradition: hearts, stars and trees all plated in gold and palladium. I was so excited to be given the opportunity to play around with pieces from the collection in my own home, and I can safely say, they are even more beautiful in real life!



As you know, I'm never one to shy away from candles - especially at Christmas! And this isn't the first time I've put real candles on my tree (remember this one?!). I have to say, it's always equally nerve-racking! The Danes, of course, have this down. My Danish neighbour advised me (I thought it was important to seek advice!) to be very careful about where you place them so the flame is nowhere near a branch or another decoration, to never ever leave the tree unattended when the candles are lit, and always keep a bucket of sand nearby.

I have to say, there is nothing prettier than real candles - even if you only enjoy them in short bursts. The 2019 Candleholder Set includes a star and heart version which look super pretty even when the candles aren't lit!



How cosy are these 2019 Tea light heart candle holders? They're like a cosy, warm hug! Did I mention, they're also made from 18 Kt. gold plated brass? Tea lights at the ready! 



We chopped down our tree at a local sustainable Christmas tree farm again this year, and we knew as we saw this one that it had a heart made of gold - isn't this ornament pretty?



I have always loved the idea of using Christmas decorations as part of gift wrapping - and the lucky recipient can hang this pretty 2019 Christmas ornament star on their tree the following year! Any guesses what's inside?



Hard one, but I think the 2019 Christmas Bell Decoration is my favourite. It's made from 18 Kt. gold plated brass and engraved with the year. I think this would make such a beautiful present, don't you?



Usually we put our Christmas tree in this corner, but this year my English family are descending on us (super excited) - so I thought keeping the daybed / reading corner could be a nice place for people to hang out alone with a book when it all gets a bit much (you know what it can be like!). I

True to Scandinavian style, I kept the decoration super simple (especially since it's so near the tree!), using just one single 2019 Christmas ball decoration. Helen (who came and hung out with me for the day to help with the shoot), pulled this mini fir tree up at her summer cottage in Blekinge (you might recognise the name as it's where we went sailing this summer). The key with these mini trees is to keep the roots intact so they last all Christmas.



What do you think? Could you imagine treating yourself or someone you love to something from the Georg Jensen 2019 Christmas Collection? Explore the entire collection here.

I am going to a christening soon and have my eye on the 2019 Christmas Collectibles Gift Set as a present. I hope it's something the little girl can enjoy at Christmas time for many years to come!

Have a lovely day!

Niki

Photography: Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home
Styling: Helen Sturresson

This post is sponsored by Georg Jensen, however all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. 

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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 Enköping, 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!  

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Trend Alert: 5 Holly Jolly Christmas Danish Homes


Colours have been creeping into danish homes for a while now - so it makes sense that the Danish Christmas should be bursting with colour too. This is nothing new of course. Danes have been using their vibrant red and white flag as a tree decoration for hundreds of years. But there's something a little different about this Christmas - and it's all about the chintz! Think branches dripping with hand painted baubles in a riot of fuchsia, turquoise, silver and gold and green, and fun shaped ornaments featuring toadstools, snowmen, paper flowers and even avocados and skulls! Bright coloured candles with a twist (literally) and light up the darkness and there's glitter, plenty of glitter. Oh, and there's something else you should know, tinsel is back too. Naturally, the Danes carry it off beautifully with their innate sense of style, the bright colours popping against a backdrop of white, earthy pink and blue. Ready to feel inspired by a holly jolly Christmas - Danish style? Here are 5 homes that have captured my heart (snapped by Another Studio). 


1. Louise over at Mor Till Mernee is never one to shy away from colour in her home (albeit in a wonderful subtle way) - and her beautiful tree, covered in toadstools, snowman, hearts, baubles and the Danish flag, is a fine example! 


2. The Danish home of @papirkalas, purveyor of paper rosette garlands, is full of Christmas cheer. Think tinsel and alder tree branches adorned with shiny hand painted baubles, toadstools, bells and paper flowers in a riot of colours - against a serene white backdrop. 


Candle carousels have been popular in Scandinavia since World War II. Artilleriet sells a similar musical candle ornament with chiming bells! 






There's the tinsel folks. And in true Danish style, it looks fab!

Check out the finer details of her baubles and you'll spot hand painted glittery details too. 




3. In Sofie Boisen's early 20th century home it's colours a go-go with bright red candles, pastel coloured tree ornaments and a sprig of mistletoe against a dusty pink and blue backdrop. 

Whoever said all Scandinavians are minimalists?




Colourful glassware, Hay twist candles and a timeless Skultuna candleholder help the Christmas table to shine. 


4. Ida (@midtimeller) has gone for a Christmas tree with twist in her lovely danish home. These trees are not to everyone's taste, but there's something about the imperfection that intrigues me - plus they're perfect for small spaces. This one is looking resplendent with its bright coloured ornaments that catch the light. 



It wouldn't be Christmas without a wreath hanging from a glass cabinet door (see Helen's home) and I love Ida's tiny candle wreath!


5. In Tove's apartment in Frederiksborg, Copenhagen it's all about the pastels (check out her pale blue floor!) - and the tree is full of turquoise, fuchsia, yellow and pink touches. 

I love the casually draped stars too! 



Zoom in on Sofie's advent candle below and you'll spy a fabulous array of Christmas ornaments including avocado, rainbow and even a skull! 

What do you reckon? Could you imagine adding a little chintz to your home this Christmas? 

In the words of Burl Ives, it really does bring a 'holly jolly' feel, and when styled like the Danes, it doesn't need to be over the top either. 

I have to say, my kids would love it! They've got their eye on a tin of caviar, glittered unicornspink balloon pup and even a fun French set including a baguette, croissant and bottle of red! I quite fancy a set of the Hay twist candles (for the more daring among us, there's also these glittery candles on clips).

Looking for more Christmas decorating ideas this weekend? 

Check out the Christmas archive - it's full of 'jul' themed home tours, Christmas decorating ideas and cosy log cabins. 

Speaking of which we had a light snow fall in Malmö yesterday, you can imagine our excitement! 

It was perfectly timed with a birthday in the house on Sunday - MINE!!! I'm looking forward to cosying up with family and even doing a little cross-country skiing with friends - wish me luck, I'll need it! 

I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend too - stay warm and cosy! 

Niki  

Photography: Another Studio / @anotherstudio, shared with kind permission. 
First picture from the home of Sidsel Garsdal

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Georg Jensen Christmas Collectibles 2020 In Helen's Swedish Home

Sponsored*
I know Jul is approaching when I receive an exciting box of Christmas decorations from iconic Danish brand Georg Jensen. Every year, Georg Jensen collaborates with a designer to create a set of Christmas Collectibles which include candleholders, ornaments and tree toppers. You might recall last year's collection, based on Yuletide symbols of love. This year, Georg Jensen has collaborated with Danish born Sanne Lund Traberg once again to create the Christmas Collectibles 2020. Inspired by the wonder of nature in winter, Sanne took her lead from the frozen flowers in her own winter garden as well as the striking floral photographs by early 20th century photographer Karl Blossfeldt. The result is a wonderful collection of Christmas ornaments etched with delicate ice flowers, rosettes and dianthus.  

I immediately imagined the decorations in the home of Swedish interior designer and My Scandinavian Home stylist, Helen Sturesson. Helen favours a simple, rustic Scandinavian Christmas style and the Palladium plated brass ornaments added a beautiful touch to her nature-inspired creations. 


This pretty heart has to be my favourite item in the collection. Etched with a delicate ice flower, it looks so pretty in the centre of a wreath - and would look equally lovely hanging from the tree, or on Christmas wrapping! What a perfect present! 

Who doesn't love a tree lit with real candles? It's a wonderful nod to times gone by and so incredibly cosy!  My Danish friends tell me how they love to gather around the tree and appreciate it while it's all aglow (you should only ever light them for short periods of time, never leave it unattended and always have a bucket of sand nearby!). 

I love Helen's tree, which she plucked from her summer cottage garden, all lit with candles in candleholders etched with Ice Dianthus! Isn't it pretty?  



Look closely and you'll also spot delicate rosette and dianthus flower tree ornaments catching the light!

And finally, an ice flower mobile, designed to capture the delicate beauty of one of nature's most ephemeral spectacles, catches the light as it twists and turns from a fir tree sapling.  

What a pretty collection! 

I love the idea that you can keep the decorations for life - or give them to someone special as a present. 

One of my friends once gave me a 'little skier' Christmas tree ornament and I think of her every time I hang it on the tree, it holds such a special memory! I was also thinking what a lovely present this would make for a god child (or 'odd child' for the non-religious!) - each year gifting one piece from the Georg Jensen Christmas Collectibles until they have a tree full of decorations! 

FYI Helen has used string to hang these decorations, giving them more of a rustic touch, but they also come with bright red ribbon. 

See the entire Christmas Collectible 2020 collection here! 

Oh, and in preparation for our annual family trip to the Christmas tree farm this weekend, I'll be sharing a round-up of some of my favourite Danish Christmas trees tomorrow. And guess what? It will involve bright colours too, you've been warned! See you then!

Niki

Photography: Niki Brantmark / My Scandinavian Home
Styling: Helen Sturesson 

*This post is brought to you as part of a paid collaboration with Georg Jensen, however all words are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too! Thank you for supporting the wonderful businesses that make My Scandinavian Home possible. 

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