Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Swedish christmas

Each family has their own traditions when it comes to Christmas celebration, all ranging from what you eat, when you open your gifts and where you spend it. When I was a child, back in Sweden, we always celebrated at my Grandmas' house. My uncle and his two children (and later on, my cousins children since he is slightly older than myself), Grandma (of course) and my Dad and Mum (Mum later replaced by girlfriend as they got divorced when I was 6). The entire day was filled with anticipation, the gifts under the tree, the food, the mandatory Christmas episode of "Donald Duck" at 3 o clock, Christmas candy... you name it.
Sweden is a Lutheran/Protestant country and we always celebrate on the 24th of December. And the celebration starts early that day with ham sandwich and "julmust" ( a fizzy drink served only on Christmas and Easter, and yes, it is the same, just with a different label), Christmas porridge (rice porridge) and curious glances towards the pile of presents under the tree.  After that we tried to avoid food as much as you could in order to stuff yourself later that afternoon at Grandmas'.
Since I had children, I tried to keep at least a few of these traditions but also trying to create our own. My husband doesnt have any specific traditions that he brought into our house, apart from the Christmas food so I have pretty much dictated our own!
My Dad's girlfriend was very determined when it came to decorating the tree. The tree did not make any appearance inside the house until the day before Christmas. It was a nice thing though, decorating all togher while the ham was cooking in the oven and you were allowed to stay up as late as you wished! I have made some changes to that rule and on the second of Advent, we normally unfold our tiny little tree and decorate it (mostly because all our neighbours tend to put it up already by end of November!).
The ham is another thing. You can't find the type of ham we cook and then grill in the oven so last year we decided to order a ham at Spinney's which turned out to be a good substitute.
For the past years, we have celebrated with our American neighbours, which means turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potaties, green bean casserole and waldor salad. Very delicious I must say (and I have to admit that I hadn't had turkey in my entire life before we moved to Dubai).
The typical Christmas food in Sweden is like a smorgasbord (a form of buffet) with various cold and hot dishes:
  • Various forms of herring (pickled, mustard, garlic)
  • Smoked salmon
  • Marinated salmon
  • Liver pate
  • Brawn (preferably home made)
  • Smoked eel (at least in our house, we used to eat smoked eel and I love it)
  • Potatoes (of course, we are Swedes after all)
  • Beet root salad
  • Herring salad
  • Potato salad
  • Other salad
  • Christmas ham
  • Meatballs
  • Wienersausages
  • Jansons tempation (potato dish with anchoves, covered with cream)
  • Red cabbage
  • Spare ribs
  • Brown cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Omelet
The desert is usually rice porridge with cinnamon or a mix of porridge and cream, called Ris a la Malta (very delicious but dangerous).

Jansson temptation, a must on the Christmas table!

Danish Winersausages

Smoked salmon

Russian winter salad, or "olivier"


Not quite the same ham as in Sweden, but still ham...

This Boxing day afternoon, we enjoyed a tiny version of the traditional Swedish christmas buffet, but managed to get the essentials, such as herring, salmon and Jansons temptation, a potato dish with onion, anchovies and cream. I also made meatballs and we bough red cabbage from the Danish consulate, so it wasn't that bad. As much as I love the turkey and the other good stuff, I do want some Swedish Christmas food as well.

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