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The First Advent tells us to prepare for the coming christmas season: decorating home, baking pepparkakor and Lussekatter, hanging the advent star on the window, fixing the christmas tree and turning on the first candle. Those are the Swedish basics today. Though long ago the tradition was to slaughter a pig at the beginning of December -if you were lucky enough-, to brew beer, cleaning the house and baking -of course!

In the old Swedish peasant society , advent was called "julfasta", i.e. the time to prepare all those special christmas foods we love ... but at the same time you had to control yourself and "fasta" (fast). Oh! how difficult was not to be tempted with all those recipies while cooking! Being a catholic you had to restrain yourself from eating, specially meat and such other wonders. A souvenir from "julfasta" is the Swedish "lutfisk" -preserved cod in English- which traditionally was soaked on December 9.

Note: the advent candlestick posted here belongs to Birger Lundquist and was published on the book Johans Jul in 1947. The book was written by Eva von Zweigbergk. I found Johans Jul in a second-hand boutique in Uppsala and was delighted by Birger´s drawings. Aren´t they so comforting and up to date?

Swipe down and you shall see the book cover as well as an old recipe for baking a Soft Swedish Pepparkaka at home.

Soft Pepparkaka

(around 14 pieces)

100 g butter

3 dl flour

1 1/2 dl sugar

1 tea sp cinnamon

1 tea sp ground clove

1 tea sp ground ginger

1 tea sp bicarbonate

2 dl cream

1/2 dl light syrup

5 peppar cookies

Warm the oven to 175 C . Melt the butter and mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix butter, cream and syrup until a soft batter. Crush the peppar cookies in a mortel, paint a sponge cake mold with butter and sprinkle with the ground cookies. Pour the batter into the mold and bake 40-45 min. Let it cool in the mold and then sprinkle with icing sugar.