Swedish word of the day: kanelbulle

Nele Schröder
Nele Schröder - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: kanelbulle
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Our chosen Swedish word of the day – kanelbulle – is very appropriate on this day: October 4th has been declared the nation's 'Cinnamon Bun Day'.


But let's get into the meaning of the word first. Kanelbulle is a composition of the words kanel, which means 'cinnamon' and bulle, which means 'bun' or 'small bread roll'. Kanel comes from the Middle Low German 'kanēl' that on the other hand comes from the Latin word canna, which translates to 'reed' or 'cane'.

Long story short: kanelbulle means "cinnamon bun".

The plural is kanelbullar and when else would you have several kanelbullar than on cinnamon bun day?

In the 1920s, cinnamon buns as we know them today rose to their sugary fame and have been deeply connected to the Swedish culture ever since. Today, they are Sweden's most beloved pastry and exist in all shapes and sizes – from the traditional ones to some with colourful toppings or filled with blueberries.


The tradition of Kanelbullens dag (National Cinnamon Bun Day) was invented in 1999 when Sweden's Home Baking Council tried to think of ways to celebrate the organization's 40th anniversary. Perfectly gauging the tastes of a nation, it announced the introduction of an annual feast day.

The word kanelbulle is also sometimes used to describe the @ symbol, because of the way it looks.


Jag vill ha en kanelbulle, tack

I would like a cinnamon bun, please

I kväll ska jag baka kanelbullar

I'm going to make cinnamon buns tonight

Va?! Tycker du inte om kanelbullar?

What?! Don't you like cinnamon buns?

Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order. Head to to read more about it. It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.


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