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Debbie Candau 2012

Graphics copyright Dianne J Hook. CL# 1012173865,, and

Christmas Season
Families in Sweden begin the Christmas season by attending church on the first Sunday of Advent, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas.

Swedish Traditions
But the Christmas festivities really begin on December 13 with St. Lucia's Day, which celebrates the patron saint of light. St. Lucia was a young girl from Italy who would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city.
She would wear candles on her head to light the way each night.

St. Lucias Day

On December 13th, the eldest daughter gets up before dawn and dresses as the "Queen of Light" in a long white dress.

She wears a crown of leaves with seven lighted candles.

St. Lucias Day

She awakens the family before sunrise and serves them saffron or cinnamon buns and coffee in bed. Younger sisters dress as maidens, wearing white robes with a crown of silver tinsel, and each carries a single lighted candle.

St. Lucias Day

The boys of the family wear white robes as well, and wear cone-shaped hats decorated with stars. The boys are called Starngossar, or star boys.

St. Lucia Procession

Some schools, churches, towns, and villages choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung.
A national Lucia is also chosen.

St. Lucias Day

Swedish families give gifts wrapped in paper and sealed with wax.

Gift tags are attached with riddles giving clues as to what is inside. The gifts are put into a basket and handed out on Christmas Eve.

Swedish Traditions
The children count the days from the first day of December until Christmas with an Advent calendar. Each morning, they open a flap in the calendar's Christmas scene to see the charming picture behind it.

Swedish Traditions
The whole family helps to select the Christmas tree just a day or two before Christmas.

They use papier-mache apples, heart-shaped paper, pinecones, small straw goats and pigs, little Swedish flags, glass ornaments, and small figures of gnomes wearing red hats to decorate the tree.

Swedish Traditions
Families sometimes have goats made of straw in the house to guard the Christmas Tree. Straw is used as a decoration in homes, to remind them that Jesus was born in a manger.

Christmas Tree decorations that are made of straw are also very popular.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve, or Julafton is also very important in Sweden. This is when the main feast is eaten. This is often a 'julbord' which is a buffet, eaten at lunchtime.
Presents are normally exchanged on Christmas Eve.

Holiday Foods
The delightful smells of gingerbread cookies in the shape of hearts, stars, or goats fill the house.

They enjoy a smorgasbord feast of lutefisk, which is dried fish, Christmas ham, boiled potatoes, pork sausage, herring salad, spiced breads, and many different kinds of sweets.

Gift Giver
After dinner, the Christmas tree lights are lit.

Then the Tomte, the tiny Christmas gnome, comes on a sleigh drawn by the Christmas goat, Julbokar to deliver gifts to all.

Gift Giver
A tomte is described as an older, little man about the size of a young child. He wears old often ragged clothes, usually gray or navy, and sports a bright red cap on his head. He lives in the barn and watches over the household and farm. He is responsible for the care of the farm animals, especially the horses.

Holidays in Sweden
Goats pull Tomte around in a sled. On Christmas Eve, people set out a bowl of porridge for him.

Swedish Traditions
After the gifts are opened, the family dances around the tree singing a special song.

Holidays in Sweden

Christmas Wishes
To wish someone a Merry Christmas in Swedish you would say:

God Jul!