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No, Sweden has not banned Christmas lights. Here's proof

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No, Sweden has not banned Christmas lights. Here's proof
Christmas elk in Stockholm's Sergels Torg. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
15:52 CET+01:00
If Sweden has banned Christmas lights, then what are those bright and shiny little lamps?

Swedish Christmas fans were upset this year when they were told by transport administration Trafikverket that local councils would not be allowed to use Trafikverket's lampposts to hang their Christmas lights.

However, outside of Sweden, the story got picked up by extremist fake news sites and was morphed into a bizarre tale about Sweden banning the lights for religious reasons.

Last time we looked, the festive spirit was still alive, so we asked our readers to send us their own pictures of Christmas lights to debunk the rumour.

Scroll down to find out what actually happened.

But first, let's have a look at some of those supposedly banned Christmas lights.

The Local's reporter Lee Roden snapped this one on Södermalm in Stockholm.


We're pretty sure these are Christmas lights. Photo: Lee Roden/The Local

Reader Gonzalo Rodrigo Álvarez sent us this image of the IT support workers' mission to make this corridor at the Department of Computer Science at Umeå University the most Christmassy in Sweden.


The Department of Computer Science at Umeå University. Photo: Gonzalo Rodrigo Álvarez

Below is a picture of the Christmas lights in the main square of Linköping, sent in by reader Joe Jackson.


Stora torget in Linköping. Photo: Joe Jackson

Prerna Vohra sent us these three photos of Christmas lights in Malmö. Those definitely look like Christmas lights.


Christmas lights in Malmö. Photo: Prerna Vohra


Christmas reindeer lit up in Malmö. Photo: Prerna Vohra


Christmas lights in Malmö. Photo: Prerna Vohra

Viktorija Misiunaité sent in this picture of Christmas lights on the Drottninggatan shopping street in Stockholm.


Biblioteksgatan in Stockholm. Photo: Viktorija Misiunaité

Sourjya Chowdhury sent us the pictures below of Christmas lights in central Stockholm. Nope, still not banned.


A Christmas tree in Stockholm. Photo: Sourjya Chowdhury


Swedes having fun on an ice rink in Stockholm. Photo: Sourjya Chowdhury

Here's a unicorn in Linköping not particularly fussed about the fake Christmas light ban.


A Christmas unicorn in Linköping. Photo: Sara Herring

So, has Sweden banned Christmas lights? No, here's what happened:

Swedish roads, and their lampposts, are owned by either councils or the state. Those councils who wish to hang Christmas lights on roadside lampposts owned by the state have to apply for permission from Trafikverket, which has been taking an increasingly restrictive stance in recent years.

"We don't want Trafikverket's lighting constructions to be used for anything other than their original purpose and this is because of several different reasons," Elin Isaksson, coordinator at Trafikverket, told The Local.

She said that part of the reason is that Christmas lights are usually plugged into the lampposts, and under Swedish law, Trafikverket is not allowed to give or sell power from the electric installations they own. 

Another reason is safety, and making sure the lampposts won't come down in bad weather.

"When the lampposts were bought a certain structural integrity was required, and that can't be guaranteed when there is extra weight in the form of, for example, Christmas lights," said Isaksson. "We don't know how much the posts can handle when the conditions change from what they have been tested for."

So there you go. Just a case of health and safety concerns, and if you want to take a critical approach, good old-fashioned Swedish bureaucracy – a tradition that's not likely to go anywhere. Just like Christmas.

Keep posting pictures of Christmas lights in Sweden! E-mail news@thelocal.se or share them on social media using the hashtag #swedishchristmaslights and tagging us @thelocalsweden.

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