Today is Julafton!! (Christmas Eve), which is the day that Swedish people celebrate Christmas. So I thought I would share a little of this tradition with you...
The Christmas festivities begin with the festival of Saint Lucia on the 13th December (which I have already posted about) and everyone puts a star or candles in their windows.
December 24 is the day when the Jultomte (Father Christmas) brings the presents, but only if you have left a bowl of porridge out for him the night before. If you forget you will have bad luck all year.
But Jultomte doesn't come down the chimney like in England. Instead he knocks on the door and asks "finns det några snälla barn här?" ("are there any nice children here?"). To which the reply is yes (of course).
Jultomte then comes in and takes out presents from his sack and passes them to the children.
This is Freddy's first experience of seeing Jultomte (Farfar) and he was a little scared at first until he got the hang of the taking-gifts-from-Tomte aspect of the evening.
The traditional Christmas meal in Sweden is a smörgåsbord (yes it's actually a word that the English stole from Sweden). It means a big buffet with lots and lots of dishes. Here are a few of them that we ate today:
Julskinka (Christmas ham)
Dopp i grytan ("dipping in the kettle") - dipping bread slices in the ham broth after boiling the Christmas ham
Rödkål - sweet and sour red cabbage
Köttbullar - Swedish meatballs
Revbensspjäll - spare ribs
Gravad lax - salmon
Prinskorv - small hot dog sausages
Eggs with caviar