Swedish flavour comes home

Swedish flavour comes home

Cultural potpourri

Swedish flavour comes home

Christmas is one of the most popular festivals world over, but it comes in different packages and wrappings depending on where you look. In Sweden, it is the biggest festival but isn’t celebrated in the same way as, let’s say, the US, which is home to some of the greatest (rather, well-known) Christmas movies ever. For starters, the Swedish community has a ritual of watching Donald Duck on TV!

In what has become an annual event, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce organised a Christmas dinner for all the Swedish expatriates in the City. A large group of people gathered to not only celebrate the festive season but also make long lasting friendships. Johan Andersson, one of the organisers, took the effort to explain the difference in traditions. “I think that the major differences between the Christmas in Sweden and other countries (and cultures) are the Lucia festival and Christmas Eve. Lucia is on December 13, when all the kids dress up in special clothes and the girls sometimes have candles on their head. They then sing and perform together in front of the older generations. And Christmas Eve is different in the way that this is actually our happening day. It is not Boxing Day,” he said.

Christmas in Sweden consists of a number of festival during the period of December 1 to mid-January. The key parts of the festival are spending time with the family, which doesn’t happen to that extent during other festivals, and its importance in the lives of children. “The absolute highlight of the festival is Christmas Eve,” added Johan. He also emphasises on the importance of remembering our cultural roots.

Talking about some of the festive traditions, he elaborates, “The traditions include lunch and dinner plans with typical Christmas food, a visit from Santa Claus, present-giving and watching Donald Duck on TV.” You read right, the Disney character is an essential part of Swedish Christmas. “At 3 pm on Christmas, all families gathered in front of the TV and watch an hour-long Donald Duck show. This is a tradition started in the ‘60s. The programme and content is more or less the same since it started, but I guess the biggest difference is that it was black-and-white in the beginning, and now it is colour.”

Though many families will not be able to return to Sweden this season, they plan to celebrate it with their friends here. At the Christmas dinner in Taj West End, Johann spoke more about the festive buffet. “We eat a lot during this festival. In fact, we eat so much that people often gain weight during this period. We eat mostly meatballs, ham, herring, pork ribs, special Christmas bread and Christmas porridge, which is exactly like Indian ‘kheer’ or ‘payasam’.

We also drink something called ‘Glögg’, which is a specially-mulled wine, and a Christmas soft drink. These drinks are only supplied and served during Christmas. We also eat Christmas pastry. Many of the pastries include ingredients like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and more; it thereby reminds me of some of the Indian cuisines!” But regardless of the customs, Christmas is the time to be jolly!

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