Advent festivities in Sweden

A collage of photos of Advent in Sweden

Swedes love festivals, decorating their houses, eating special foods and the associated rituals. Not only do they love festivals, they are very good at organising them.

Naturally then Swedes love Advent. It is a time when they bask in the warm glow of candles and Advent stars so that everything starts to look Christmassy, especially if it is covered in a blanket of snow. (Most of the photos in our Advent collage above show Christmas scenes from elsewhere on SwedishFood.com.)

Advent in 2016

Saffron buns and the first of four Advent candles lit

The first Advent Sundays in 2016 is on 27th November. As there are always four Advent Sundays before Christmas, the final Advent Sunday in 2016 will be on December 18th.

Advent candles

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On the first Sunday of Advent one candle is lit, on the second Sunday two are lit and so forth, until by the fourth Sunday of Advent all four candles are lit. The weekly ritual helps to build up the excitement as everyone begins to look forward to Christmas.

Lussekatter and glögg

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Most Swedish families like to preserve the candle lighting tradition, even though most are not religious these days.  After a new candle has been lit most Swedes eat some lussekatter (saffron buns) or pepparkakor (gingersnaps) and drink a glass or two of glögg (Swedish mulled wine served with raisins and almonds).

Windows during Advent

Seven branched electric Advent candlestick

From the start of Advent most houses will also have a five- or seven- branched electric Advent candlestick shining in a front window. From the outside the golden glow (coloured and flashing lights are strictly taboo) helps everyone to feel all Christmassy and to begin unpacking their Christmas decorations, as well as getting down to some serious baking, shopping and party preparations. From the inside, the Advent lights create a cosy feeling, especially if there is snow on the ground outside.

An Advent star in a window

A popular alternative to the five- or seven- branched Advent candlestick is an Advent star. Some Swedish homes have both! (Regular visitors to Sweden will know the photo above wasn't taken in Sweden because the curtains are closed, something the Swedes never do. Swedes may prefer to look out at the snow, but I prefer the warm cosiness of closing my curtains at night.)

Risgrynsgröt

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Many families also eat risgrynsgröt (a type of rice pudding which is a bit like porridge) on Sunday mornings during Advent. It is often eaten cold and dusted with cinnamon. Children can sometimes be woken in the middle of the night when the risgrynsgröt is ready. Just so exciting…

An Advent calendar app

Advent app on phones

To help celebrate Advent Swedish style, I recommend downloading "A Swedish Christmas", an app available for android and Apple devices. Just like a traditional Advent calendar it contains 24 windows, but behind each window is some lovely Swedish Christmas music and excellent video. More…

John Duxbury

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