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#SwedishChristmas: The Day Before Dipping Day is here!

Victoria Martínez
Victoria Martínez - [email protected]
#SwedishChristmas: The Day Before Dipping Day is here!
In Sweden, the day before Christmas Eve has a special name connected to an important food tradition. Photo: Erik Åkerhielm/Nordiska Museet

Every day until Christmas Eve, The Local explains the unique history behind Swedish Christmas traditions in our own Advent calendar.


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Today is an historically-important day of Swedish Christmas that was once highly anticipated.

In Sweden, December 23rd is known as dan före dopparedan, the day before dipping day (December 22nd is dan före dan före dopparedan and so on). The reason why it's not called dan före Julafton (the day before Christmas Eve) basically comes down to the Swedish tradition of dopp i grytan (dip in the pot).

The tradition of dipping or soaking bread in a liquid – often called a sop – has existed across cultures for centuries. Historically, it was common that the bread used was too stale or hard to eat without dipping or fully immersing it. This was true with the origins of the dopp i grytan tradition, which originated among Swedish peasants during the Middle Ages, when Sweden was still a Catholic country.

In those days, Christmas Day signalled the end of the fast that prohibited the consumption of meat since Lucia. Christmas Eve and the day before was therefore a time of cooking and preparing a variety of meat dishes to be served at the Christmas feast. Though the meat could not be eaten until then, some hard bread could certainly be dipped in the pot to soak up the cooking liquid and all the flavours it contained.

In her 1958 book, Festivals of Western Europe, Dorothy Gladys Spicer provided an enchanting description of how the tradition might have been carried out: "On Christmas Eve the family gathers at six o'clock around the kitchen stove for the time-honored ceremonial of Dopp i grytan, or 'Dipping in the Kettle'. The room is festive with paper garlands and candles in three branched candlesticks. The freshly-scrubbed pine floor is strewn either with straw – in memory of the manger birth – or with fragrant juniper twigs. On the stove there is a big kettle of appetizing broth containing sausages, ham, pork, and other hearty meats."

As farmers finished their labours and the Christmas preparations ramped up, the anticipation of getting a taste of the feast to come by dipping some bread in the pot must have been intense. It's no wonder that dopparedan came to describe Julafton and that both the tradition and the description continue today.

Each day until Christmas Eve, we're looking at the story behind one Swedish festive tradition. Find the rest of our #SwedishChristmas series HERE.


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