For members


Swedish food calendar: Eight delicious dates to stir into your schedule

These are the food events you shouldn't miss in Sweden.

a woman eating a hot dog
There is no calendar as important as the Swedish food calendar. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB Scanpix/TT

1. Fat Tuesday

In winter it never seems like a bad idea to fill up on sugar and carbohydrates, but the semla bun has a special place in freezing February. The small wheat flour snacks, flavoured with cardamom and packed with whipped cream and almond paste are traditionally eaten on what is known as fettisdag or Fat Tuesday in Sweden and Shrove Tuesday in other Christian countries.

The custom started when people ate the sweet treats during a last feast before the Christian fasting period of Lent got under way.

2. The first Thursday of March

The first Thursday in March is a normal, boring första torsdagen i mars everywhere in Sweden, except the south-eastern region of Småland.

Their accent means that they often drop the “r” in words, pronouncing it fössta tossdan i mass. They celebrate this by eating marzipan cake (marsipantårta – or, in Småland, massipantåååta). It’s a recent “holiday”, created by local resident Jonas Sveningsson in 2010, but Swedes will accept any excuse to eat cake.

3. Waffle Day

Waffles are consumed on March 25th in Sweden, which is known as Våffeldagen. The name comes from the Christian Vårfrudagen (Our Lady’s Day), which in Swedish sounds almost like Våffeldagen (waffle day), but it is no longer linked to any religious events. The date historically marks the end of the winter and the beginning of spring. People gorge on the griddled cakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an afternoon fika snack.

4. Crayfish season premiere

When the nights get warm and balmy in Sweden (usually for a matter of weeks), Swedes get together to mark the start of the crayfish season. The boiled seafood is usually accompanied by some Swedish snaps and hearty singing. Crayfish have been eaten in Sweden since the sixteenth century, with the tradition of an annual August crayfish feast beginning in the 1900s.

5. Cinnamon Bun Day

Swedes love their cinnamon buns so much they even gave the baked goods their own annual day – kanelbullens dag – which is marked on October 4th each year.

The holiday was invented in 1999 by the Home Baking Council (Hembakningsrådet), a club of baking ingredient producers now run by Danish sugar company Dansukker. The company wanted to create a baking tradition in honour of its 40th anniversary. Click here to find out how to make your own.

6. King Gustav II Adolf

Creamy sponge cakes decorated with marzipan or chocolates silhouettes of King Gustav II Adolf are eaten in memory of the Swedish monarch on November 6th. He was killed at the Battle of Lützen in 1632. The royal is widely regarded as having laid down much of the apparatus of the modern Swedish state, including the postal service, universities and key transport links.

7. Christmas Eve

Often the biggest feast of the year, regional dishes are popular at Christmas time in Sweden, so expect fish if you are invited to a coastal town or reindeer in northern Sweden.

Many families put together a platter or smörgåsbord of foods including ham, pork sausage, an egg and anchovy mixture (called gubbröra), herring salad, pickled herring, home-made liver pâté and potatoes. A more controversial ingredient is lutfisk, a dried fish soaked in water and lye to swell before it is cooked. 

8. Pancake Day

No we’re not talking about Shrove Tuesday again, the date in February when many people around the world eat pancakes. In Sweden, every Thursday is pancake day, with many Swedes enjoying a small version of the snack for lunch, usually with a pea soup as a prelude. The tradition goes back hundreds of years. Swedes serve their sweet pancakes with whipped cream, sugar or berries.

Article written by Maddy Savage in 2014 and updated in 2023.

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For members


Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.