Swedish-American Celebrations – by Megan Asph

One of the unexpected benefits of marrying a Swede has been several new Christmas traditions added to the season. While they are never perfectly Swedish – for example, we have yet to find a pretty Lucia procession in Chicago, they are ours and I love them.
Sankta Lucia – Celebrated December 13th with a beautiful procession, songs, and candles.
Saffron buns – called lussebullar or lussekatter are made. While we have yet to find a decent procession in Chicago, we do make lussebullar ever year.
This is the traditional shape…                …but we like to get creative too:
Christmas Gift Riddles– I’m not 100% sure if this is Swedish or just Herman, but it’s fun regardless. Each gift comes with it’s own riddle about what’s inside. Here is one of my favorites from our first Christmas together:
shake shake little
startled one
curve into a spiked
ball, till your eyes
are gone
feast for a fox
you could have been
but instead two spices
you hold within

Inside, were these little gems:

Socialist Christmas Cartoon – Actually called Christopher Jannsen’s Christmas. Whether you are a bleeding heart liberal or a libertarian, this cute cartoon is worth watching as it embraces the Christmas spirit of sharing. Traditionally watched on Christmas Eve…but we have ended a night of drunken revelry watching this with friends. Watch part one here (subsequent parts should pop up on Youtube):
Pepparkakor – Ginger cookies….I used to eat Anna’s pepparkakor’s year round, but apparently they are really reserved for Christmas. Either way, they are yum!
SwedishSnaps – Eat too much julbord? Swedes take a shot of schnapps to make room for more. While I am more than willing to do the shot, I wouldn’t say it makes more room in my tummy. And while the flavor may be awful (stay away from the herbal spiced ones), it does add to the merriment.
Julmust – While American’s may associate Coca-Cola’s polar bear with Christmas, Swedes sip on Julmust during the Holidays – enough so that Julmust outsells Coca-Cola every year during this time. Usually Tomte (Sweden’s Christmas gnome) gifts a Julmust or 2 in Herman’s stocking. Syruppy sweet and a little spicey, the Christmas soda can be found in the States at World Market.
Next year I hope to have my first taste of actual Julbord – the Christmas smorgasbord, and glogg, a spiced, mulled wine….either in Sweden or at our favorite local Swedish Restaurant (Tre Kronor offers one with rave reviews). Someday when we have a family, I hope to have a visit from the spitfire little Tomte who is known to throw his presents at random and play pranks on some. We might also add the tradition of watching Donald Duck’s Christmas, viewed nationwide much like we watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Finally, many Swedes celebrate 20 days after Christmas, throwing out the tree, and having the kids fish for surprise gifts on the other side of a sheet.
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