God Jul! My first Christmast in Sweden was wonderful! Andreas and his family made it so very special for me. We celebrated at their snow covered cabin by the sea, a picturesque winter wonderland. There was lots of good food, family time, and presents!
Swedes celebrate Christmas much the same as Americans, but there are a few differences, the largest I suppose being that Christmas is NOT the 25th, it's the 24th and is celebrated in the evening. The Christmas table or julbord is filled with delicate offerings of herring, boiled eggs and potatoes, dopp i gryta (a hard bread dipped in ham gravy), janssons frestelse (scalloped potatoes with cream and anchovies), little sausages, meat balls, beet salad, salmon, and more! We also went cross country skiing and used the "kick" (which is kind of like a personal sled you stand on), both of which I would reccommend trying.
It was so pleasant to take a break from school, celebrate, and just enjoy being together. I've seen friends from Florida post pictures of themselves on facebook lounging at the pool, the sun shining brightly in the background, and a comment saying something like "gotta love Florida in December" which is true, but I also think one can't help but love Sweden in the winter too!
St. Lucia is known throughout the world but predominately celebrated now a day in Sweden and Norway. On December 13th a girl is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take St. Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned. They sing a short concert of the St. Lucia song and other Christmas carols. The video shows a typical procession and I also took a few pictures from the performance I attended at Umeå University.
This picture is from 09/19/2010,
the day my Swedish life began.