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Sweden and Swedish Recipes and Winter Holidays

Updated on July 31, 2015

The Santa Lucia Wreath

This wreath presents more than the 5 candles of the Advent Wreath. (public domain)
This wreath presents more than the 5 candles of the Advent Wreath. (public domain)

Christmas in Sweden

The holiday Jul (Yule or Christmas) is celebrated over the course of at least two months in many parts of Sweden. Advent as a church season comprises the four weeks before December 25th and is celebrated in churches with the Advent Wreath that is seen also in some American churches. The wreath holds five candles for each of the four Sundays, plus a fifth represent Christ's birth.

Crown of Candles: St. Lucia Day in Sweden

St. Lucia's Day Celebrations

On December 13th, St. Lucia's Day is celebrated to remember the saint of the blind and of light. On this day, the oldest daughter in each celebrating family wears a long white robe and a wreath of candles similar to the Advent Wreath on her head. Dressed in this costume, she is to serve Lucia buns and coffee to her family in bed. Later at church, there is a pageant with a choir and music.

Christmas Eve Night after church, a large smorgasbord is enjoyed by families. However, in the middle of the afternoon, many Swedish children watch a Walt Disney Christmas Special, making a newer tradition, and gifts are often opened late Christmas Eve. The Swedish version of Santa Claus is namedJultomten and some say he lives in Finland.

many more traditions are upheld in different parts of Sweden. One tradition is that December 25th is spent almost entirely in church (beginning even at 7:00 AM) by many families. December 26 is St. Stephen's Day, when another feast is held. it is also Boxing Day, celebrated by some families as well. If you recall, the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslaus contains the phrase "...on the feast of Stephen", referencing this additional feast day of the church. Animals receive extra food this day as well, because Stephen is their patron saint. The rest of Christmas takes up to the day of January 13, when the Christmas tree comes down.

Dozens of special dishes are enjoyed during the long weeks of Swedish Christmas celebrations, and below are just a few of them.


I was given this drink one Christmas in college without realizing that it had been modified (I'd never heard of it previously). That particular glogg contained three different types of red wine, along with a bottle of vodka and I did not like that flavor combination. I actually prefer the grape juice. If you use alcohol as a drink, you might want to stick to one type of good red or burgundy wine for this recipe.


  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 strips of dried orange peel
  • 3 pieces of crystallized ginger
  • 10 whole cardamom seeds
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 Cup of water
  • Sugar - at least 1/3 Cup
  • 1 bottle of red or burgundy wine or your favorite grape juice (save the bottle and wash it out)


  • Heat the spices in the and water until boiling; turn off heat and let stand overnight.
  • Filter the spices out of the water the next day.
  • Add the wine or grape juice to the pot.
  • Turn on the heat and add sugar to taste.


  • Serve hot, as a pre-dinner drink for winter and holiday evenings.
  • Serve this beverage with raisins and blanched almonds dropped into the cups after pouring in the glogg.
  • Provide spoons for your guests.


  • Store the leftover glogg in the clean wine bottle for up to one year.


Cabbage Pudding


  • One 2 LB head of cabbage
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons of uncooked rice
  • Salt to taste
  • 11 ounces of ground beef
  • Butter for frying
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Cup whole milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cut off the bottom part of the stem of a head of white cabbage.
  • Cut the cabbage into shreds or pieces.
  • Brown cabbage in butter in a skillet.
  • Boil rice in 2/3 cup water and 1/2 tsp. salt for 20 minutes.
  • Set aside and let the rice cool.
  • Mix ground beef with 1 1/2 tsps. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  • Add the rice and 1 cup milk.
  • Arrange cabbage and meat in alternate layers, beginning and ending with cabbage, into in a greased baking dish.
  • Bake 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Serve with boiled potatoes and Christmas Sausage.

Main Dish from Scratch - Christmas Sausage or Korv

Often, this dish is served with boiled potatoes, green peas in butter, cabbage pudding (see below) and, cranberries.


  • Kitchen grinder or sausage machine
  • Scissors and heavy thread (like rug thread)


  • 6 yards of hog casings or other sausage casings that you prefer (from your butcher)
  • salt and water to form a brine for soaking 
  • 2 cups UNSEASONED mashed potatoes
  • 3 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 3 LBs ground beef mixed with 3 LBs ground pork
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 3 Tbls salt
  • 1 Tbls ground black pepper
  • 5 bay leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 2 ½ cups beef stock or 2 ½ cups scalded milk, cooled
  • Vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water


  • Get the hog casings the day before you make sausage.
  • Soak casings overnight in salt brine in the refrigerator.
  • Rinse casings very well with cold water.
  • Make mashed potatoes.
  • Chop onions and sauté in oil - sweat them over low heat, do not brown. Set aside to cool.
  • Mix together: meat, mashed potatoes, onions, allspice, salt, pepper, bay leaves, oregano, cloves, and stock.
  • Put vegetable oil on the spout of grinder.
  • Fry a small amount of the sausage mixture in oil adn test for flavor - season to taste.
  • Rinse casings in cold water again and cut into 16-inch lengths.
  • Tie one end of each casing section with thread.
  • Fill grinder with meat and put the open end of the casing over the spout to catch the meat. Then grind slowly and stop about 2 inches from the casing end. Now remove from spout and tie second end.
  • Put sausages into plastic bags or covered containers and freeze for up to 6 months - or refrigerate in salt brine (not more than 4 - 5 days in brine).


  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • In an open shallow pan over moderate heat, put 2 Tbls oil and ½ cup water until butter is melted.
  • Arrange (defrosted) sausages in pan and place pan in oven to cook 45 minutes. Turn once to brown evenly on both sides.
  • Cut sausages to 2" inch pieces and serve hot.

Lucia Buns

Saffron makes a yellow dough.
Saffron makes a yellow dough.

Salt and Sugar-Cured Salmon


  • 2 center-cut salmon filets, lb. each, with skins left on
  • 4 Tbsp each, sugar and salt
  • 2 tsp coarsely crushed white peppercorns
  • 1 Cup dill, whole


  • Remove any small bones from the filets (can be done easily with forceps)
  • Combine sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Cover the bottom of a baking dish with about half of the the whole dill.
  • Rub half of the sugar & salt mix into the first filet, both sides;  set it skinside down on top of the dill. Cover the fish with dill.
  • Repeat with second filet. but place skinside up on top of first filet and and cover with rest of the dill.
  • Cover the dish and marinate in refrigerator for 2 days, turning the figh upside down every day once or twice to cure it evenly.
  • Scrape marinade off with a knife and slice fish very thin.
  • Serve with mustard sauce  --



  • 2 Tbsp sweet mustard
  • 1 Tbsp each, Dijon mustard, sugar, and vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and coarsely ground white pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Cup chopped fresh dill


  • Mix mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and egg yolk.
  • Whisk continually, while slowly adding the oil.
  • Continue whisking until sauce is smooth.
  • Add the chopped dill, stir gently, and serve.

Share Additional Swedish Traditions Here

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    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Great information on the different cultures and tradition. Will try the Lucia Buns recipe. GReat hub.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I had good teachers in high school and college!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Patty...I **am** **impressed**!! You know about our quaint traditions! How cool! Great hub!:)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Tahnks, netters! -- I don't know if I could sucessfully wear the candles on my head. :)

    • Netters profile image


      9 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Very interesting, I love all the different traditions. Thank you.


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