Sweden Local Custom Tips by marielexoteria
Sweden Local Customs: 165 reviews and 144 photos
Apotekarnes julmust (from carlsberg.se)
Julmust (jul = Christmas, must = must) is a soft drink that we drink during Christmas. Wikipedia defines the must: "Must is made of carbonated water, sugar, hops extract, malt extract, spices, colouring (E150), citric acid, and preservatives. The hops and malt extracts give the must a somewhat beer-like taste, but must is not fermented and contains no alcohol. Must can be aged provided it is stored in a glass bottle."
This yummy soft drink was created in the early 1900's as an alternative to beer by Robert and Harry Roberts, father and son. The syrup that gives the must its taste is made only in Roberts AB in Örebro.
In December the consumption of must is so high that all other soft beverages drop in sales, esp. Coca Cola, who from 2004 started advertising their own version of must but they buy the syrup from Roberts AB.
There are several brands of Julmust in the supermarkets, being Apotekarnes my personal favorite. Must is also sold during Easter with the name of Påskmust.
Flags on a Bus in Uppsala on April 30
There are certain days in Sweden where you might see little flags on top of the buses or trams. This is because those days are called Flag Days and are:
* Jan 1: new year's day
* Jan 28:, the King's name day
* Mar 12: the Crown Princess' name day
* Easter Sunday: sometime in March or April
* Apr 30: the King's birthday (and the Last of April festival day)
* May 1: May Day
* Whitsun/Pentecost: 49 days after Easter Sunday
* Jun 6: Sweden's national day and the Swedish flag's day
* Midsummerday: the Friday that falls under the period Jun 19-25
* Jul 14: the Crown Princess' birthday
* Aug 8: the Queen's name day
* Election day: the 3rd Sunday in September every election year (every 4 years)
* Oct 24: the UN day
* Nov 6: King Gustav Adolf's day
* Dec 10: Alfred Nobel day and the celebration of the Nobel Prize
* Dec 23: the Queen's birthday (and my dad's too hehe)
* Dec 25: Christmas day.
Another (unofficial) Flag Day we have is May 9, which is an European Union flag day. That day you might see the Swedish and the EU flags on top of the buses and on flag poles in buildings.
Info from Wikipedia: Flying of the flag is permissible from sunrise to sunset. In general this means from 8 AM to 8 PM. During winter the time from sunrise to sunset is often less than 12 hours in the whole of Sweden and during this time the actual daylight hours should be observed. One example of handling this is the practice of the Infantry Regiment in Kiruna, which during this period flies the flag for one hour each day starting at noon.
Sweden's red days are: Jan 1, Good Friday, the Monday after Easter Sunday, May Day, Sweden's day, Ascension day (the 6th Thursday after Easter Sunday), Midsummer day, All Saints day (the Saturday that falls under the period Oct 31-Nov 6), Christmas day and Boxing day (the day after Christmas day).
Lucia (from sweden.se)
Lucia is celebrated every 13th of December and initiates formally the Christmas celebration. In the ancient Swedish farm society, people used to eat, drink and party all night long and one of the farm ladies had a white gown and carried a crown with lit candles on her head, as they believed the Lucia day had the longest night of the year.
Modern day celebrations include the "search for Lucia" in all the municipalities of Sweden, being the coronation of Sweden's Lucia in Skansen and the Lucia concert in Globen, Stockholm the biggest ceremonies. The Lucia girls parade in what we call "Luciatåg" (Lucia train). The Lucia train is composed of Lucia followed by Lucia maids (Luciatärnor), star boys (stjärngossar) and children (or young teenagers) dressed with ginger bread guy/girl like (pepparkaksgubbar) and Santa Claus like (tomtar) costumes. Lucia and her maids are dressed with a white gown and a red ribbon on their waist, the maids carry lit candles on their hands and Lucia her candle crown on her head (when it comes to small children they carry battery powered candles for security reasons). The Lucia train will sing some songs, being Sankta Lucia (scroll down) the song the one that announces who's coming to <place name>
There are Lucia trains in schools, hospitals and some other public places. One of my SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) teachers said that this, while not being a red day in the calendar, was an important holiday because Lucia brings light to us living in darkness during winter.
The Lucia day is where we traditionally drink glögg (hot mulled wine) and eat lussekatter (read my separate tip about it) and ginger bread cookies. Of course, you can find and eat these products all of December.
Our Advent candlestick with all candles on
Advent is the season of preparation before Christmas, here in Sweden of 4 Sundays before Christmas Eve. We start by having an Advent candlestick with decorations and one candle that we light on the first Sunday, 2 on the second, 3 on the third and all 4 on the fourth. By the time the 4th candle is lit, a "stair" is formed from the other 3 candles being burned at different heights.
During the whole season we like putting out an electrical Advent candlestick, usually with 7 candle shaped small light bulbs to light up our days (and nights), considering how little sun light we get during winter. This, and an Advent star, are used until Jan 6th (trettondedagen in Swedish, 13 days after Christmas Eve).
For the children, an Advent calendar is sold. It contains 24 "windows" numbered from 1 to 24 that kids open up , one every day, and find a small piece of chocolate. These 24 "windows" represent the days from Dec 1st to Dec 24th, where they get their Christmas presents. Those who are good with craft work make their own calenders and put in small toys or other things (like when Mr. Sweden was a kid). Another form of counting down how long it is until the Christmas Eve dinner is a calendar candle. I'll post pictures of my decorations when I put them on. In the meantime, these pictures are from Wikipedia.
This is the only place in Sweden where you can buy wine, spirits and beer with a certain (higher) alcohol percentage (you can buy some beer and cider with a low alcohol percentage on supermarkets like Ica and Coop). They monopolize alcohol selling to, and I quote from their site, " minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive." You need to be 20 years old to be able to buy here and you must show your ID card if the cashier asks for it.
Photo from Wikipedia
The best way I can describe knäckebröd is like a thicker form of a cracker. Knäckebröd is fairly popular as breakfast and/or between meals snack and the variety of toppings you can have on your open face sandwich is almost endless.
Beautiful Tasty Crayfish
Crayfish parties are, well, parties where Swedes gather round to eat crayfish. They're held in August as a late summer pastime.
The crayfish are boiled in water with a little salt and seasoned with dill. To this people drink beer and/or snaps.
I'm afraid I cannot take part in these festivities due to allergy to fish and seafood :(
Photo from Wikipedia
Midsommar, or midsummer, is one of the most ancients traditions in Sweden. The celebrations are held on "midsommarafton" or the eve of midsummer, which is the Friday under the period of 19th of 25th of June.
People wear a flower crown made of birch (soft) branches and covered with 7 kinds of flowers. Then people build a maypole, decorated it and dance around it. Traditional dishes that are eaten then are boiled fresh potatoes (the first from the harvest), herring, and strawberries or strawberry cake. To this people drink snaps and sing songs.
According to tradition, young girls used to collect 7 different kinds of flowers, put them under their pillow and dream of their future husband.
Photo from Wikipedia
Julbord is a smorgasbord with dishes that most treat as traditional during the Christmas holidays. Some of the dishes are herring, gravad lax (salmon cured in salt), lutefisk, the traditional Christmas ham, boiled potatoes, "leverpastej" (similar to foie gras), roasted pork ribs, small sausages, meatballs, red beet sallad and Janssons temptation - sliced potatoes baked with cream, onions and sprats. The traditional dessert is rice porridge with shredded cinnamon on top, in which an almond is hidden and s/he who finds it is supposed to have good luck.
To these yummy dishes people drink some snaps and sing some local songs, julmust (a carbonated soft drink) or julöl - Christmas beer.
Photo from Wikipedia
Semlor are traditionally eaten every Tuesday during Lent. A semla is a sweet cardamom bun, filled with marzipan and whipped cream and with a "hat" (from the same bun) and some powder sugar on top. Originally these buns were eaten only on Fat Tuesday under Lent.
Most Swedes (and especially those coming from Norrland - northern Sweden) like eating their semla in a bowl or deep plate of warm milk, true to the traditional way of eating semlor....while I prefer eating it the same way I'd eat another pastry. I start by the "hat", putting as much cream as I can, then I eat the bun.
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