This year I'm celebrating Christmas and New Years here in Sweden and my sister reminded me a while back that I haven't been home for this holiday in 3 years. 2014 I had my first Christmas in Toronto, 2015 me and Mike where in Thailand, and last year I was back in Toronto. And as if 3 years away didn't make it exciting enough to be home, this time it's also Mikes first Christmas in Sweden.
I want to say the biggest difference between our Swedish traditions and the North American ones are the dates. For us December 24th is the main day with a full day of celebration, you have rice porridge in the morning, everybody sits down at 3pm to watch the Donald Duck Disney special, then there's a dinner and gift opening usually happens in the evening. The way I experienced it the 2 years I was in Toronto was that on the 24th they have a big dinner and celebrate a little bit, but that the 25th being Christmas Day, is the real "big" day. And on that day you wake up to find your stockings full of gifts and some under the tree, and they open them in the morning usually in their pajamas. After that it is very common to have a big lunch with the family again to help eat all the leftovers and to spend time together.
That brings me in to the next big difference, which is food! In Mikes family for example the food is very influenced by their portuguese heritage, but they also follow the North American tradition of having a turkey. For us here in Sweden the tradition is to have a big broiled ham, lots of potatoes, sausages, meatballs, different herring, fish dishes, beet salad and the four main things you can't go without is saffron buns, gingerbread cookies, glögg (mulled wine) and julmust (a soft drink like coke but very hoppy).
For me the memories of Christmas is so dependent on the flavors from all these things, and it truly hasn't been the same Christmas feeling these past 3 years without them even though I've tried finding similar things to substitute those flavors with. But with that said, it doesn't mean it's been less of a holiday for me. It has been so fun to experience new things and to see how other people celebrate, and the biggest thing especially was to be able to celebrate it with Mike. Now this year I'm so excited to show him our traditions and to be able to enjoy all my favorite things while being back here in Sweden.
What is a Christmas tradition you have that gives you that holiday feeling? Please share! I'm interested to see if I'm the only one that have these connections with food.