advent lights. window christmas lights

5 things you need to know about Christmas in Sweden

Hmm..this year, time went so fast! One moment I am in Mykonos, enjoying the waves, the sun and the sand, next I wake up in bed freezing while outside are 0 degrees Celsius. At least if it would be snow… I’m a summer person, so winter is my worst enemy, but there is one thing that summer can’t replace: The winter holidays!! And here in Sweden is the best place to spend that period!

I love the smell of cinnamon and apple cakes, kanelbullar, glögg or hot chocolate and of course the amazing pepparkakor! These are Swedish traditional winter goodies. Mmmmmm…

Last year we celebrated Christmas at home, in Jönköping, with all the family. Mine were traveling here to spend the holidays with us also. It was my first Christmas in Sweden, so I didn’t actually know how Sweden celebrates, what are the traditions, the Christmas food, etc.. So after doing some research and still not being clarified, I realized there is no “5 rules for a Swedish Christmas” theory. But I’ll tell you 5 things that comes to my mind now that I believe no other european wouldn’t know about, if, of course, they wouldn’t live here. In case you ever spend Christmas in Sweden…which, I strongly recommend you do at least once!

christmas presents
My presents for the beloved ones last year       

       1.  Julafton

Christmas in Sweden is celebrated in 24 december, as being the Julafton – or Christmas Eve. That is the first day of Christmas, so don’t expect any shops to be open that day. Some shops open again in 26, the second day of Christmas. In 24, families are gathering together around lunchtime, and they start celebrating the Christmas with Swedish traditional food, glögg and all kind of goodies, finishing with sharing the presents to each other.

Christmas Glögg. Jul . christmas in sweden
Glögg, cinammon & raisins
Kanelbullar Jul
Kanelbullar by Lorellay 🙂

                                                                                                                                                     2. Christmas Goodies

There is no Christmas without glögg, pepparkaka (ginger snaps) and raisins! Glögg (mulled wine) is a kind of drink that I haven’t tasted before I moved to Sweden. Similar to boiled wine, but with much less alcohol, maybe around 2 – 3 % or less.

first advent. christmas candles.
The last week before the Christmas. The ultimate Advent candle. Yes, I am the photograph 🙂

     3.  Counting down to Christmas –  adventkalendar & candles

The first Sunday in december is called First Advent day! In this day, we light up a candlestick that will continue to burn (while home, of course) for the next week. We do that every Sunday, until Christmas. Also, there are hundreds of Christmas Calendars (Adventkalendar) with different themes, that gives each day until Christmas, a surprise for everyone in the house: Lego, small toys, chocolate or other goodies, cosmetics or funny stories for the adults.



papper star. swedish window star. christmas star
Swedish traditional papper star


advent lights. window christmas lights
Advent light in the window

     4.  Glögg party, stars & advent lights

In the 1 advent day, the streets decorations are lightened up in all the cities and everyone else is decorating their homes, balconies and windows with advent lights and the famous Swedish papper stars! Some people even decorate the Christmas tree that day. After lightning up everything, all the neighbours gather outside for a glögg and pepparkaka fire party, enjoying and admiring the incredible view! Imagine all the windows decorated in the same beautiful Swedish style! The reason for this tradition is because Sweden is so dark and depressing in december, and the lights in the windows are giving a wonderful look to the streets.



Rökt Julskinka

       5.  Julskinka or Christmas ham

In Sweden, the specific Christmas food involves a big giant ham in the middle of the table, marinated with mustard sauce cooked for hours in the oven, along with the classical turkey.


You better keep this 5 points in your mind, if you ever plan to spend Christmas in Sweden. Of course, Christmas here it’s more than just 5 thoughts, it’s a endless fairytale, but it never hurts to take precaution and know a little bit more about the traditions.

By the way, the most beautiful place in Sweden in Christmas it’s Gothenburg. The city looks amazing in the wintertime and the Christmas lights are incredible there! Pay a visit! You won’t regret it!


  1. Jenna

    Funny, We will spend Christmas and NY in North Sweden and i was wondering what swedish people do this period that is special since they practically are the cozyness founders of this holiday. Nice to know this and maybe you can tips on things to do in north this year. Tumbs up!

    1. Lorellay

      Hey Jenna, thanks for the thumbs up! I honestly haven’t been so North yet, but I will collect info and come back with an article in the future! Too bad not in time for your trip.. 🙁 Have fun and enjoy as much as you can the northern Christmas spirit!

  2. Beth

    I love learning about different holiday traditions! When I was a child, we lived in Europe for a few years and traveled for many of the holidays. Scandinavia was one of my favorite destinations!

    1. Lorellay

      Dear Beth, happy to hear you love Scandinavia. I myself was falling in love with it for the last 2 years, even though the weather is a little bit tricky 🙂

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