STOCKHOLM STOCKINGS: SKANSEN CHRISTMAS MARKET

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Reading time: 5 minutes

Swedes celebrate Christmas (or Jul, as they call it) in a very different way to the rest of the world. From the start of December through to St Knut’s Day in mid-January, Swedes enjoy a month of gift-giving, winter markets, delicious feasts and more, celebrating with a wide mix of traditions, some ancient and local, others more modern and imported.



If you happen to be in Stockholm over a weekend between December 1st and December 15th, you simply must go to the Christmas Market at Skansen. Skansen is the world’s oldest open-air museum, showcasing Sweden’s culture, history and lifestyle through a charming village set-up. It’s a worthwhile attraction to visit at the best of times, but in December it really flexes its Christmas muscles. Also, it’s right next door to the ABBA museum, the Nordiska museum and the Vasa museum, so you really can’t go wrong can you?



An annual tradition held since 1903, the market is a beloved family event in the Stockholm social calendar. Here are just some of the items you can get there, as listed on their website: “traditional sausages, cheeses, handicrafts, spices and essences, Christmas decorations, embroidery, leather goods, Skansen's own handmade mustard, glass, bread and cakes, hand-knitted mittens, sugared almonds, tallows, honey, marzipan, crisp bread, smoked turkey, jams and marmalades, candy, children's books and masses of other irresistible items!” Not a bad pitch is it?



You can also expect the warmth of beautiful big bonfires, pre-set Christmas dinner tables ready to be eaten at, decorated homes and farmsteads, and regular demonstrations by skilled craftsmen in the centre of the town quarter. You’ll get to see traditional Sweden at its absolute best.

Before you go though, it might be worthwhile familiarising yourself with some Swedish Christmas concepts:

Jultomten

Think of him as the Swedish version of Santa Claus. He brings Christmas gifts to everyone, but unlike the version we’re familiar with, Tomten doesn’t climb down a chimney, preferring to rather knock on the door and hand over presents face-to-face. A lot more wholesome than the conventional trespassing version, don’t you think?

Christmas trees

Swedish Christmas trees aren’t too dissimilar from those found elsewhere around the world, but can at times be found decorated with apples, Swedish flags and lit candles.

Julbord

Are you ready to eat a platter of traditional Swedish Christmas foods? You can expect ham, pork sausages, an egg and anchovy mixture called gubbröra, herring salad, gravlax, pickled herring, liver pâté, vörtbröd rye bread, potatoes, and a special fish dish called lutfisk. It gets eaten in an order starting with fish, followed by meat, and finished with the warm dishes. You water it all down with traditional Christmas spirits such as snaps, brännvin or akvavit, or with a soft drink called Julmust. Bottoms up, and merry Christmas!