Yuletide: A Scandinavian Christmas
If you’re like most Scandinavians, you love Christmas, and will start planning for it come mid-November. By this time, you may have purchased your first—or all of your—Christmas gifts. You can’t wait to start decorating the house, bake cookies, and wrap presents all while listening to old and new holiday tunes.
The Scandinavian Christmas gene is strong, and not a power to be reckoned with. Christmas has a special place in our hearts, which makes sense. After all, it’s a beam of light in the middle of our darkest and coldest season.
The tradition to celebrate during December spans much further back in Scandinavia than in many other parts of the world because of the pre-Christian traditions of Yuletide. In fact, in all Scandinavian countries, Christmas is known as “Jul” and includes several non-Christian traditions. There’s much speculation what was really celebrated during Yuletide, but most mythological researchers suggest it was the coming of the light, longer days, and a new prosperous year.
There are various accounts of when Yuletide took place in the Old Norse cultures, but its believed to start at winter solstice—December 21st—and run until the Yule Sacrifice on January 12th. It’s a common belief that, even though Jesus was actually born in the spring, Christians moved his birthday to December 25th to more easily convert the Nordic heathens.
During Yuletide the Old Norse took part in a lot of drinking, feasting, dancing and singing. This certainly has not changed. Food remains a big part of our Scandinavian heritage.
All of this is not to say that Scandinavians are not religious. The majority are members of the Protestant Lutheran church, and many will attend church, but usually only the day of Christmas Eve, Christmas day, or for special occasions during the year. Otherwise, we are just not a big church going crowd.
For the month of December, we have arranged a collection of holiday-inspired Articles so that you too can have yourself an old fashioned Nordic Yuletide.
Scandinavian Living wishes you a “God Jul!”
Nothing screams Christmas like Ebleskiver – or Danish Pancakes as they are called in the US. Test our true and tried recipe to get your fill.
Get the ingredients you need to put together a Scandinavian Christmas dinner in the US.
Scandinavians are a traditional people. We may be known for modern and sleek designs, but deep down when it comes to some areas, we can be an old-fashioned bunch. Christmas is one of those areas. We treasure our holiday season, and carry out all of our traditions with much due diligence. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite Christmas traditions for you to try.
Add either of these two Scandinavian rice desserts to your holiday preparation this year. Rice porridge with cinnamon sugar or rice cream and cherry sauce.
The celebration of Santa Lucia is one of the most cherished traditions throughout the Scandinavian countries.
Every year the Swedish Women’s Educational Association’s (SWEA) host their Christmas Bazaar at the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC. The event is a grand extravaganza of Swedish food and vendors. The finale, a Saint Lucia procession performed by an authentic Swedish choir made up of US-Swedes of all ages. We attended and were by no means disappointed.
Every year in the beginning of December, the Norwegians turn up the holiday spirit in Washington DC. In what has become a cherished tradition in the nations capital, the grand Christmas tree was lit up on December 1, 2015 to tunes from Norwegian country singer Ida Jenshus.
If you live in a condo in Chicago, in a co-op in New York, or anywhere in the city of Philadelphia, you may be counting yourself as part of a growing segment of the American population, who is forced to forgo a live tree for Christmas. That’s a tall order for us tree-loving Scandinavians. Luckily, we’ve found a way around this piece of legislation.
From November till February there’s not a fridge in any of the Scandinavian countries that doesn’t have a jar of pickled red cabbage. This dish is key to the Scandinavian Christmas table whether as a side for meat and potatoes, or as a topping on open-faced sandwiches. Use our recipe to get your own pickled red cabbage in house during the winter months.
oast pork with crackling may be one of the most popular dishes in Scandinavia. This succulent and flavorful dish is perfect for the cold months. It’s usually served warm with potatoes and gravy, but can also be used cold as topping on an open-faced...
Nothing says Scandinavian Christmas more than gløg/glögg/gløgg. It’s the perfect warm drink after a day of skiing or just a long walk.