Euroculture Report

Christmas in Sweden − Living in a snowball: Do not shake It, please

It usually starts every 13th of December after I ‘release’ myself from the library where I was studying for my final exams. It is time for Saint Lucia’s Day, or Santa Lucia as we call it in Sweden, and with a lussebullar in my hand I join the Lucia celebration in Stora Torget, Uppsala’s main square, by singing Christmas Carols around the town.

Georgios Tsarsitalidistsarsitalidis@hotmail.com

After a melancholic and chilly November, when everyone is almost fed up with the long and dark nights which you have to become familiar with around 15:30 every day when most people go home from work, you end up around 22:00 in a nice room with good friends. There, you can talk and drink a glass of white wine while watching the flickering of the candles in contrast to the dark abyss of the gloomy November, which becomes even more apparent to you every time you stare out the window. A feeling of isolation conquers your thoughts instantly, a feeling that makes you feel so small and weak. You keep watching the flickering candles and listening to your friends talking about trivial matters while in the background you hear the music by Coldplay, Paradise. Lost in thought, your eye is caught by a white ‘thing’ outside the window. The ‘thing’ that will break the monotone of this dark November night and make you feel closer to the best celebration ever: CHRISTMAS. I break my silence at last.

George: Hey guys, it’s snowing outside… it’s Christmas time!
(Silence in the room)
A friend: Ah, it’s not there yet!
George: I know but it’s snowing! I am always impatient at this time of year!

Let me explain why I get so impatient for Christmas in Sweden. Speaking of Swedish Christmas, I consider it to be very representative as it includes a Christmas tree, snow, cold, candy, good food, meetings with friends and, finally, good white wine.

lussebullar

Lussebullar

It usually starts every 13th of December after I ‘release’ myself from the library where I was studying for my final exams. It is time for Saint Lucia’s Day/Evening, or Santa Lucia as we call it in Sweden, and with a lussebullar in my hand I join the Lucia celebration in Stora Torget (Uppsala’s main square) by singing Christmas Carols around the town. A parentheses, this celebration evolved from an old Swedish tradition, and now an angel dressed in white (mostly played by girls) with candles in her hair, accompanied by many people, sings Christmas Carols around town. I have to mention that ‘Saint Lucia Day’ is celebrated differently in many countries around Europe. Once Santa Lucia’s evening has passed, you start to feel that Christmas is nearby. Usually a feeling of stress envelopes me at this point, since I have so many things to do. Time for shopping is needed, of course not for yourself but for your family and friends since it is high time to dedicate some time only to them, while you are trying to figure out things that they possibly want or things that they have told you that they want.

Shopping – check… So, what else? I think I’m missing something!
Wait a minute, I should organise the Christmas dinner and since I am half-Greek and half-Swedish, there should be a lot of good Greek-Swedish food on the table. I can’t forget to buy a lot of ingredients since many people are coming for dinner. The tzatziki and bougourdi (feta cheese with chopped pieces of tomato and green peppers with olive oil roasted in the oven) are ready, melitzanosalata (oven cooked aubergine with parsley, garlic, a lot of salt and plain vinegar) – check. Time for the Swedish plates: kannelbullar, lussebullar and skinka accompanied by glögg (boiled wine with raisins and almonds). Christmas food checked from my to do list. Happy again!

Skinka and glögg

Skinka and glögg

The day before Christmas: waking up around 10am, you realise that this is the most relaxing day, started by listening to good music, such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, while drinking coffee and watching the snow falling outside, thinking “I better stay put and enjoy my coffee”. Some friends come by early in the morning to join you for coffee or a meals at your place and you get engaged in a long discussion with them about Christmas Eve dinner and other plans while you enjoy a kannelbullar with your warm hazelnut-flavoured coffee. With friends already in your house, relatives come around 16:00. It is time for the “Christmas Lunch and Dinner” as I call it since we start at 16:00 and keep going until 01:00 on Christmas Day. The discussions and laughter are long and loud, and the food and white wine are consumed endlessly until the end of the night. But the night is not over yet since it is time for the younger generation to go out and PARTY! You had already started texting your friends around 00:00 to arrange where and when to meet. Being ‘happy’ or ‘tipsy’, and not able to feel your feet after six hours of non-stop dancing, it is time to return home. The first thing to do is to wish ‘Merry Christmas’ to your parents early in the morning before falling into your bed. A new and amazing day is waiting for you and you have to charge your battery in order to be ready to go through again exactly what you did last night.

‘Merry Christmas’ from Sweden to all the Euroculturers!

George Kantorsgatan

Snow in Kantorsgatan, Uppsala

Georgios Tsarsgeorgeitalidis, Contributing writer

George was born in Stockholm but was raised in Greece. Since 2008, he has lived again in Sweden. He has a Bachelor (Hons) in English Language and Philology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He completed a two-year MA in American Literature and Culture at Uppsala University has studied MA Euroculture in Uppsala, Bilbao and Indianapolis. He speaks five languages (Swedish, Greek, Italian, Greek Sign Language, English) and is currently studying Spanish and Arabic. He has presented his work at more than seven international conferences and has received more than five scholarships. He has published his work in the Athens Institute of Education and Research. He loves swimming, painting, and writing and he enjoys living ‘in-between’ Greece and Sweden.

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