v43: julklapp

Sweden (and most of Europe) is having a particularly white Christmas this year. As with most countries, Christmas in Sweden brings with it a sackload of traditions: here are a few interesting ones, in chronological order. There are a couple of nice videoclips for you to watch, but I couldn’t embed them, so you’ll have to follow the links.

In the lead-up to Christmas, there’s any number of places to go out for julbord, literally Christmas table, but Christmas buffet will do nicely. The first video is from SVT’s Julkalendern (another tradition, by the way). Do watch the whole episode, but I love the bit from 5:00 onwards describing the julbord: 49 sorters sill! (49 types of herring!)

Presents are distributed on 24 December, julafton (Christmas Eve). A standard scenario is that the father goes out to buy a newspaper, and while he’s out, Father Christmas appears and hands out the presents. Don’t believe me? Well, it’s the only way you’re going to understand the second video, from ICA, where the others get excited when Stig says he’s going out to buy a newspaper.

Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, a big thing on Christmas Eve is to watch Donald Duck (Kalle Anka) cartoons on TV at 3pm. I’m not even going to bother to try and explain that one!

Finally, julklapp = Christmas present, but klapp means tap or knock, and isn’t used to mean present at any other time of the year. This one really does have a nice story behind it: it’s from a practice which dates back to the 1600s of knocking on someone’s door, then when they open the door, throwing in the present and running away before one can be recognised.

God jul!

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 16:05  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. A fascinating read about Sweden’s Christmas traditions. Indeed I was a little confused when I was given a Christmas present by a Swede, and asked to open it on Christmas Eve as opposed to Christmas morning. Thanks Richard!

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