By Jeff Game
Want to experience a Christmas like you have never Christmased before Charlie Brown? Check out my Ultimate Christmas Guide to Stockholm video blog.
Spending Christmas in Stockholm may be one of the most Christmassy things a Christmas lover may ever do. I just got back from Stockholm and this was my second time experiencing a Swedish Christmas, and all there is to do, see, experience and of course eat…And eat…And eat.
Christmas is entrenched into the Swedish culture and explodes all over the country. Since it is dark most of the winter, Swedes extend Christmas from around November, all the way until middle January – well past when we Americans have long taken our trees and trimmings down for a long winters nap. Stockholm may be the capital of the Swedish Christmas experience, and sometimes may look as if Santa and his elves decorated the city themselves.
The Swedish culture is already very traditional and precise in what they do, what they sing and of course what they eat on special occasions. Christmas is the granddaddy of all the Swedish special occasions and is truly one of the best places on the planet to spend Christmas.
As a whole, Swedes seemingly are less focused on big extravagant gifts and more centered on getting to together with friends, family and co-workers for some fun, great Christmas traditions and of course plenty of Swedish traditional foods.
Stockholm is already one of the best cities in Europe to travel and explore, if you are looking for a real traditional and fun way to spend the holidays, check out my Ultimate Christmas Guide to Stockholm and what traditions I think are cool, fun and let’s just say very interesting.
Step Into Christmas
The windows at the biggest shopping mall, NK, are all a buzz all season long with holiday window displays that rival Macy’s and Disneyland. Shoppers and gockers flock to the department store to cuddle and coo all over what this years Santa creations for all to admire and have a little fun with in front of these grand windows to the Swedish shopping world.
Merry Christmas Baby
One of the best and most posh places to drop some holiday coin in Stockholm has to be the streets of Östermalm. During Christmas the streets are lined with red carpets and Christmas is truly all around you. Whether you are shopping at Swedish designers like clothing giant Acne, funky home design store Svenskt Tenn or international favorite such as Urban Outfitters, even Scrooge McDuck would get into the Swedish Christmas spirit in Östermalm.
Peace On Earth
Every December 10th, Nobel prizes are handed out to some of the biggest brains of our generation. One great way to get into the history of the Nobel prize, is to visit the Nobel Museum, located in the Gamla Stan area of town, which is the oldest and most quaint areas of the city. On Nobel day, the city and the museum are all a buzz with a flurry of activities and of course Swedish traditions. The museum guides even dress to the nines in Swedish traditional dress as they show Nobel Museum guests why the prize is so important to the world and the impact each invention, literature or science achievement has on our daily lives.
This time of year Christmas markets dot the streets all over Europe and Stockholm has some of the best. Two great ones are the small little red housed Gamla Stan market and the ultra traditional Swedish Christmas market at Skansen. A nice warm mug of glögg (warm mulled wine) and a pepperkaka (gingerbread cookie) are sure to warm your cockles and help your heart grow two sizes.
Swedish Chef Christmas
After so much Christmas cheer, it is finally time to put the feedbag on and dive into one of the best of all Swedish traditions, the Swedish Christmas smorgasbord. Again, traditions and precision in what to eat, in what order and what types of foods fill the Christmas smorgasbord -whether at a family home or at a restaurant with co-workers and friends, this tradition will leave you properly stuffed. Meatballs, herring of all kinds, sausages, breads, cheeses, smoked salmon, Christmas snaps and final crescendo of homemade candy and desserts are the staples of a Christmas smorgasbord, oh my!
Two amazing Christmas smorgasbords I highly recommend while in Stockholm are Gamla Riksarkivet by famed chefs Niklas Ekstedt and Christian Hellberg and Oaxen Krog & Slip, which boasts amazing food and some of the best views in Stockholm.
Christmastime Is Here
What perfect way to work off the many Christmas kilos you just laid on yourself than to do your best Peanuts impression and get your ice skating on – in the middle of the city no less. Gliding around the ice rink in Kungstragarden is a picturesque way to spread some holiday cheer and check out the city.
Zat You Santa Clause
Santa Clause does exist in almost all Swedish homes, even if kids are not involved, and this bearded man with a sack is usually wearing what would be a scary Halloween mask in America. The costume maybe a little creepy, however seeing a friend, neighbor or family member don the Tomte (Santa Clause) mask, grab the bag full of presents and knock on your door is a Swedish tradition we can all get behind. Maybe lose the mask though!
A Holly Jolly Christmas
When I tell most Americans that the majority of the Swedish population stop everything they are doing at 3pm on Christmas Eve, all gather around the television and watch an ancient Disney Christmas special, they have a look of shock and awe, as if I am wearing one of those scary Santa masks. Swedes sit around and watch a very old Disney Christmas special, with a few modern updates. What, what?
Since 1959, at 3pm the streets are as empty as the zombie apocalypse when Donald Duck or “Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul: “Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas,” take to the airwaves and the Swedish world grinds to a halt, as family and friends are glued to the television, with the same jokes, the same songs and sometimes the same hosts each year. Donald Duck may be a bizarre tradition to us who helped invent the Disney brand, however it is one cool Christmas tradition that is fun to experience.
That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown!
Music for my video blog courtesy of:
Jingle Bells – Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters
Bjallerklang (Jingle Bells) – Agnetha & Linda