Did you know?
Even though many countries in Europe share the same Christmas customs, Sweden has a few things that differ from the rest of Europe. In general, Christmas is known and called Jul in most Nordic countries. The expression dates back to Proto-Germanic and pagan times when the expression jehwla was used. It can be translated more or less into festive season. Today, many Swedes are connecting Christmas holidays with Christian beliefs, however, a major part is only celebrating it as a day to spend with the family and without a religious connection.
Another special of the Swedish Christmas time is the 13th of December. On that day, Swedes celebrate one of the more important holidays during the Christmas season. During the evening of this day, children in white robes wander through the streets, holding candles in a so-called Lucia tåg (the Lucia procession). They visit neighbors, sing Christmas songs for the people, and receive candies and cookies. In the medieval ages, the 13th of December was one of the darkest days before winter solstice and it is said, that animals started talking and spirits were trying to catch kids. As the latin origin of the name Lucia already can tell, she came to bring light and comfort on this particular day to the people.
Fun fact: Every Christmas and since 1960’s, a 43 ft. Christmas goat (Julbocken) made out of straw is erected in the city of Gävle. Unfortunately, it became not only famous by the impressive craftsmanship, but also due to teenagers trying to burn it every year. Technically and since the 60’s, the Gävle Goat burned down every second year until 2019, when a fire station was built next door to the square where the goat is situated. The website of the city has the whole story covered about what happened to the goat in each year.