If you’re looking to add some Scandinavian flair to your holiday celebrations, you’re in luck! The Christmas season is a magical time in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and their rich traditions can easily be incorporated into your own celebrations. From cozy hygge gatherings to elaborate feasts, here’s everything you need to know about celebrating Christmas like a true Scandinavian, no matter where you are in the world.
The nordic way of decorating for hygge holidays
One of the first things you’ll notice as you wander the streets of a Scandinavian city during the holiday season is the abundance of twinkling lights and festive decorations. In Denmark, it’s common to see homes and businesses adorned with heart-shaped ornaments, while in Sweden, the traditional ornament is a small, handmade straw goat called a “tomte.” In Norway, the most iconic Christmas decoration is the “julekule,” a glass sphere filled with small trinkets and figurines.
But the most iconic symbol of Scandinavian Christmas is the Christmas tree. In Denmark, the tradition of bringing a tree into the home dates back to the early 19th century, when King Christian VIII brought the tradition from Germany. Today, Christmas trees are an integral part of the holiday season in all three countries, and you’ll find them in homes, churches, and public squares.
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Food and Drink for a true Christmas Hygge
One of the best things about the holidays in Scandinavia is the food. In Denmark, the main event is the “julefrokost,” or Christmas lunch, which typically consists of a smorgasbord of savory and sweet dishes. Popular items include cured meats, pickled herring, roast pork, and “riskrem,” a rice pudding served with lingonberry jam.
In Sweden, the main Christmas meal is “julbord,” a smorgasbord of dishes similar to those found in Denmark. But the real showstopper is the “julskinka,” a glazed ham that is a central part of the Christmas feast. And in Norway, the main attraction is “ribbe,” a succulent roast pork with crispy crackling.
But it’s not just the food that makes Scandinavian Christmas special – it’s also the drinks. In Denmark, it’s traditional to serve “glögg,” a warm, spiced wine made with red wine, brandy, and spices like cinnamon and cardamom. In Sweden, the go-to drink is “glögg,” which is similar to the Danish version but made with a base of aquavit, a strong, vodka-like liquor. And in Norway, “aquavit” is the drink of choice during the holiday season.
How to Incorporate Christmas Hygge into Your Holiday Celebrations
Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a Danish concept that has gained popularity around the world in recent years. It refers to a feeling of coziness, comfort, and well-being that is achieved through simple pleasures like spending time with loved ones, enjoying good food and drink, and creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
During the holiday season, “hygge” is especially important in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The long, dark winters in these countries make it especially important to find ways to stay warm and cozy, and “hygge” is a key part of that. Here are some ways that “hygge” is incorporated into Christmas in Scandinavia:
- Hyggekrog,” or cozy nooks: In Denmark, it’s common to create a special “hyggekrog,” or cozy nook, in the home during the winter months. This might be a corner of the living room with a warm blanket and plenty of pillows, or a small room with a fireplace and comfortable seating. During the holiday season, families often gather in these cozy nooks to relax, chat, and enjoy each other’s company.
- Candles and lights: In all three countries, candles and twinkling lights are an important part of creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere during the winter months. You’ll find candles burning in homes, churches, and public squares all over Scandinavia during the holiday season.
- “Hygge” activities: During the holiday season, families in Scandinavia often participate in activities that are designed to be cozy and relaxing. This might include cooking and baking together, playing board games or card games, or watching holiday movies.
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I hope that this guide has given you a taste of what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and that it has inspired you to add a little bit of Scandinavian magic to your own holiday celebrations. From my family to yours, I wish you a warm, cozy, and truly “hygge” Christmas season!