So far this is only my second Christmas in Sweden. The the first time was in 2005 and on the 25th of December it snowed, and kept snowing all day and night. It was magical; suddenly the streets resembled the Christmas cards I used to give and receive even though we always celebrated a sweltering Christmas in Australia.
However the thing I love most is the traditions here. The real Christmas trees, glögg, the decorations and candles in every window, the assortment of strange food and a weird attachment to sitting around and watching scenes from old Disney movies. I can't directly relate to a lot of these things, but it's a lot of fun to experience such defined traditions, even if some of them are a little quirky.
My Mum is coming over for Christmas, and she is bringing two cases of Bowen mangoes with her, so I get the best of both worlds: family, cartoons and eating a juicy mango while watching the snow fall.
For me it's the social part, to be able to disconnect work and focus on the people close to me one hundred percent.
I also enjoy the feeling of warmth and the nice lighting all over town.
The best thing about Christmas is how is seems to lift the entire national psyche. During the run-up to Xmas, with its many rituals (the Xmas lights, adventsljusstakar [Advent candle sticks], Santa Lucia, baking pepparkakor [ginger snaps], drinking Glögg etc.), one can clearly discern a lifting of spirits as Swedes briefly emerge from winter hibernation to celebrate. Pity we can't find suitable rituals for November, January, February and March!
I could answer this question with one word: SNOW. Not slush, not flakes, but real snow that you make snow angels on. Christmas without snow is like having a Ferrari with no gas. It's just not right.
Growing up in Southern California, we always dreamed of a “white Christmas”, and right after Thanksgiving began the tradition of hanging snowflakes and icicles from the edge of the rooftops of our house.
There was even a street in our neighborhood called “candy cane lane” because of the lengths the neighbourhood collectively would go to, to make sure that it was really a winter wonderland. This was a tradition my dad hated but the ladies of the house (my sister and my mom) insisted upon it and often won. I can tell you, it is no easy task but what's Christmas without snow after all?
So when I came to Sweden, that was the first thing I looked forward to, only to discover that half way around the world, the Swedes shared the same feelings about Christmas and snow. Last Christmas was a bit dry to say the least and this Christmas season I have been observing more “icicles” being hung from rooftop edges, no thanks to global warming of course.
So, in conclusion: Swedes and Americans, we are not so different… real, or man (or woman) made, it just isn't Christmas without snow.
Christmas time for me is a welcome light in the dark. It has a lot of upsides; you spend time with family and you have time off work and perhaps you get presents too. It also literally provides some light during a miserable period weather wise and light wise as there is no guarantee of snow this time of the year.
I absolutely adore the light decorations on the balconies, the “adventsljusstake” and the “julstjärnor” [Christmas stars] you see in the windows. What is best for me about Christmas time in Sweden is having something to look forward to during November and December.
The best thing about Christmastime in Sweden is that I will spend my first Christmas with my fiancée, Laila! I look forward to all of my new country's traditions and ways of celebrating a God Jul [Merry Christmas].
I am told that it rarely snows in the south of Sweden, where I live, at Christmas. I am hoping for some magic of the season this year to make my first God Jul in Sweden one of the best! God Jul, Laila, I love you.