12 things expats miss most from home at Christmas

Whether you approach Christmas with all the fervour of Buddy the Elf or all the disdain of the Grinch, there’s no denying yuletide as an expat can be hard.

12 things expats miss most from home at Christmas
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Spending the festive season away from your home country can make you feel somewhat less festive. You can yearn for little things you didn’t realise you enjoyed about Christmas, even if they used to really grind your gears before you moved.

Fear not, there’s one thing that doesn’t have to change. You can still watch all your favourite sport, TV shows, and movies on-demand with streaming service Viaplay. So even if you find yourself abroad this December 25th, you can always watch something that reminds you of home.

Click here to win a six-month Viaplay Total subscription!

If you’re an expat spending Christmas in Sweden, these are some of the things you may find yourself (unexpectedly) longing for.

Christmas songs

Photo: verbaska/Depositphotos

If you don’t involuntarily sing along every time you hear All I want for Christmas is you then you need an extra large shot of Christmas spirit.

Of course, in Sweden you’ll probably still hear all your favourite Christmas songs. There are also several catchy Swedish tunes we have a feeling you may like just as much. Tänd ett ljus, anyone?

Festive movies

Elf, Bridget Jones, Home Alone, it’s not quite the holiday season if you can’t curl up and watch some festive movies. Preferably in a Fair Isle onesie.

Luckily, you can catch all these movies and more on Viaplay here in Sweden this Christmas. And this way there won’t be any arguments with your brother over who gets control of the remote control!


Photo: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos

However old you are, “going home” for Christmas always means catching up with your local friends over a glass of (insert popular yuletide tipple here).

On the bright side, spending the festive season in Sweden means glögg (mulled wine) in abundance, which can be enjoyed with a plate of delicious pepparkakor biscuits — it’s a moreish treat that you may end up liking just as much as your traditional holiday snacks.

Watching the game

Keeping up with your team over the holidays is a tradition, wherever you’re from in the world. And while the holidays may be a time for rest, it’s one of the busiest times of year for sport.

Fortunately, you can still watch American football on Thanksgiving or catch the Boxing Day Premier League fixtures in Sweden. All you need is a Viaplay Sport or Total subscription for full access to all the games.

Just a snapshot of other sporting highlights you can catch on-demand with Viaplay this season include the last two rounds of the Champions League group stage, Real Madrid and Barcelona facing off for El Classico, and Manchester United and Manchester City locking horns in the Manchester derby.

Both NHL and NFL season are also in full swing throughout the holidays — and you can catch all games on Viaplay live or up to 48 hours after they’ve aired.

Find out more about Viaplay’s packages – starting at 109 sek a month


Photo: DGLImages/Depositphotos

For those of you lucky enough to have family (you like) to spend Christmas with, it’s hard to get into the spirit without them.

Even if spending time with your nearest and dearest inevitably means…

Family squabbles

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a raging argument about who cheated at charades.

Family pets

Photo: swkunst/Depositphotos

Who doesn’t love dressing Mittens up as Santa? Answer: Mittens.


Wherever you’re from, nothing quite beats your home country’s traditional Christmas lunch. Even if you're South African and deep-fried caterpillars are on the menu!

The good news is in Sweden you can have a julbord, or ‘Christmas table’, and the even better news is it’s packed full of delicious treats with a big ham centrepiece. The buffet includes Swedish favourites like herring, cured salmon, meatballs, pork ribs, and cabbage — it’s an elaborate affair that can last several hours, so make sure to wear comfy pants.

Christmas TV

© 2017 Universal Television LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

It’s the one time of year you’re officially allowed to stay in your pyjamas and binge watch hour-long Christmas specials of all your favourite shows.

With a Viaplay subscription you can catch all the classics — from Friends and Family Guy to Will & Grace and Grey’s Anatomy — and find a Viaplay exclusive series to get hooked on, like Lethal Weapon, Empire, or Yes, No, Maybe. The only problem you might have is choosing what to watch first!

If you’re spending Christmas in Sweden and want to go native, don’t miss Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (the 1958 Walt Disney Presents Christmas special From All of Us to All of You) at 3pm on Christmas Eve — it’s a Swedish tradition to gather round the TV and watch it. Don’t ask us why…and don’t ask the Swedes, because none of them seem to know why they do it either.

The adverts

Sometimes the things we miss most about home are the things that we didn’t even realise we noticed. It’s funny how even hearing a familiar jingle can signal the start of the holiday season. It’s a magical place we’re on our way there….


Photo: Hannamariah/Depositphotos

You don’t realise until you’re away from home at Christmas how much you enjoy baubles and light-up reindeer yard decorations. Or perhaps you find yourself longing to see the cobweb tree decorations in your native Ukraine, or the Catalan caganer in its rather risqué pose.

All's not lost, if there’s one thing Sweden does well it’s Christmas decorations. Dark winter nights call for glittering lights, and you won’t pass a window without an advent star twinkling away in it.

Bad Christmas jumpers

Don’t pretend you’re not weirdly into the reindeer jumper with the nose that lights up.

Whatever you’re wearing and wherever you’re spending Christmas, it’s always good to have all the sports, movies, and TV shows you could possibly watch just a click away.

Choose from three Viaplay options (with no binding contract):

• Viaplay movies and series – 109 SEK a month (try a month for free!)

• Viaplay Sport and series – 399 SEK a month

• Viaplay Total (sport, series, and movies) – 449 SEK a month

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Viaplay.

For members


Sweden’s best Christmas markets for 2021

After many Christmas markets were cancelled last season, you may be wondering where you will be able to get this year's dose of Christmas cheer. Here are our suggestions for some of Sweden's best Christmas markets.

snow on stockholm's gamla stan christmas market
Stockholm Old Town's Christmas market may be one of Europe's oldest. Photo: Ola Ericson/


1. Malmö Mitt Möllan

The trendy and multicultural area of Möllevången in Sweden’s third biggest city has become the spot for a special Christmas market for those looking for a modern and hipster-ish atmosphere. The Mitt Möllan traders’ association organises a market that promises art, culture, food and fashion. Busy that weekend? Malmö’s traditional annual Christmas market in Gustav Adolfs square, focusing on local products, is being held in three sessions, from December 9th-12th, 16th-19th and 20-23rd. 

When: December 2nd-5th

Tickets: Free

2. Kalmar Castle, Kalmar

This spectacular 800-year-old castle has established itself as one of the largest Christmas markets in Sweden. For four days, the whole building will be opened to the public and visitors get the chance to wander around in the historic decorated halls. Listen to Christmas and winter music, and walk around the castle and visit some of the about 120 craftsmen from all over Sweden who set up their stands and sell handmade items. 

When: November 25th-28th

Tickets: 90 kronor (free for under-12s)

Kalmar Castle in Småland provides a scenic location for one of Sweden’s largest Christmas markets. Photo: Emmy Jonsson/Scandinav Bildbyrå/

Katrinetorps Landeri, also known as Gourmetgården, is Malmö’s Christmas market for foodies. This market, situated in the house and gardens of Katrinetorp, built in the 1800s, will have a focus on Christmassy food such as glögg (mulled wine), as well as a horse and cart, antiques, a Lucia parade and dancing around the Christmas tree. They will also be offering their own handmade products in their deli.

When: December 3-5th

Tickets: 80 kronor for adults, free for children under 15

4. Jul på Bosjökloster, Höör

Christmas at Bosjökloster monastery is also back for 2021! As in previous years, this market will feature Christmas concerts in the church, as well as locally produced gifts and food for perfect Christmas gifts. Visitors will also be able to eat a traditional Swedish julbord, meet Santa, ride a horse and cart and “look for presents in the maze”. This market is taking place on the first weekend of advent, meaning you can start getting into the Christmas spirit as early as November!

When: November 26th-28th

Tickets: 100 kronor for adults, dropping to 50 kronor after 2pm on Sunday and free after 3pm on Sunday. Free for children under 16. Over-65s pay 80 kronor on Friday


5. Liseberg theme park, Gothenburg

Sweden’s biggest amusement park, Gothenburg attraction Liseberg, lights up every year with millions of Christmas candles. A traditional Christmas Market and an old-fashioned Christmas market in different areas of the park offer everything from carol singing to pony carousel rides. Ice shows, Santa’s grotto, an ice skating rink and the park’s rabbits are sure to keep your little ones entertained. More information here.

When: Thursdays-Sundays between November 19th and December 30th. Check website for more details.

Tickets: Entrance from 95 kronor (free for children up to 110 centimetres) to 245 kronor for unlimited rides. The price varies depending on which day you visit as well as whether you want to go on the rides or not.


Gothenburg’s Liseberg theme park is host to a Christmas market complete with festive lights. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/Scanpix/TT

6. Skansen, Stockholm

Take the ferry over to Stockholm’s Djurgården island from Slussen and stroll over to Skansen, Europe’s biggest outdoor museum, which has organized its own Christmas market since 1903. It’s a great place to snap up some presents in the form of traditional Swedish arts and crafts, as well as having a feel of how Christmas was celebrated in the past.

When: Fridays-Sundays between November 26th and December 19th.

Tickets: 70 kronor for children aged 4-15, 160 kronor for adults and 140 kronor for concessions.

7. Old Town, Stockholm

Around 40 stands set up shop right in the middle of Stockholm’s Old Town ahead of the festive season, selling Swedish Christmas sweets, smoked reindeer, elk meat, a range of Swedish handicrafts and decorative arts, and much more. The setting alone is enough to get anyone into a romantic Christmas mood. This market might actually be one of the oldest in Europe, since the first Christmas market in the square was held as early as 1523 (although it started in its current format in 1837).

When: November 20th-December 23rd

Tickets: Free

8. Wadköping Christmas Market, Örebro

The Wadköping outdoor museum, which is an echo of what Örebro looked like centuries ago, organises a Christmas market full of the usual traditions: Christmas decorations, sausages, cheeses and arts and crafts. 2021’s Christmas market will also feature outdoor Christmas songs and pony riding.

When: November 21st and 28th, December 5th and 12th

Tickets: Free


9. Gammelstads Kyrkstad, Luleå

Brave the cold (and it will be cold) for a Christmas market in the far north of Sweden. The Gammelstad Church Town is the country’s largest and best preserved church town, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is over 400 years old, and comprises of 405 cottages, six stables and a privy, sprawling around a large medieval stone church. The Christmas market takes place at the Hägnan open air museum, where around 80 exhibitors sell products from home-baked goods to arts and crafts. Visitors this year will be able to make their own candles, meet Santa and go on a candle-lit walking tour through the museum.

When: December 4th-5th

Tickets: 30 kronor

10. Jokkmokk Christmas Market, Jokkmokk

Jokkmokk is located in the north of Sweden, in the Arctic Circle. It is an important place for the Sami people, the only indigenous population in Scandinavia. It is famous for its winter market in February, which first took place in 1605. At their recently-established Christmas market, held in celebration of the winter solstice, visitors will find traditional Sami handicrafts – called duodji – and learn more about their history and culture.

When: December 11th-12th

Tickets: Free

Traditional Sami handicrafts – called guksi or kåsa – wooden drinking cups available at the Jokkmokk Christmas and winter markets. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix/TT

11. Christmas Market at Nordanå, Skellefteå

Are you in Skellefteå this December? Pay a visit to the Christmas market at Nordanå, which started in 1975. It is particularly known for its arts and crafts, and in past years visitors have been able to buy handmade ceramics, knitted baby clothes, and tin thread jewellery.

When: December 5th

Tickets: Free

12. Christmas Market at Västerbotten Museum, Umeå

This Umeå museum dedicated to the region of Västerbotten organises its annual Christmas market again. It promises a candy shop, horse-drawn carriage rides, a bakehouse and more than 80 artisans selling locally produced food and quality wares. Hungry visitors can also learn about what Christmas dinner from this region may have looked like in the 1870s.

When: December 4th-5th

Tickets: Free