Swedish word of the day: julbord

the word julbord on a black background by a swedish flag
What regional specialities do your Swedish friends and family have on their julbord? Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Here's the second word in The Local's Christmas-themed word of the day series, running from December 1st to Christmas Eve.

Julbord literally translates to “Christmas table”, and the Swedish julbord is an extensive spread that has evolved from a variety of traditions and today consists of an elaborate buffet of typical Christmas food.

It is popular not only to sit down for a julbord on Christmas Eve with family, but also to go out for a special julbord meal at a restaurant in the run-up to Christmas with family, friends or colleagues. 

Not sure what the julbord etiquette is? We’re here to help.

The sheer variation of food on offer at a Swedish julbord can be daunting for newcomers, but, as a rule, as long as you eat everything in the right order, you’ll be fine.

Start with a glass of glögg (similar to mulled wine) to warm up, before the first course. This is usually the fish dishes: sill (pickled herring) and gravad lax (cured salmon), eaten with potatoes and knäckebröd (crispbread).

The next course is cold cured meats (such as julskinka or Christmas ham), more bread, and probably some pâté.

Then it’s the warm dishes, which will likely involve meatballs, sausage (prinskorv), a potato and cream casserole (Janssons frestelse), and sometimes bread dipped in pork broth (dopp i grytan).

After that, it’s dessert and/or cheese with crackers, finished off with some coffee and perhaps a few sweets and rice pudding (ris à la Malta).

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If that sounds like a lot, then the trick here is not to fill yourself up early on – it’s always a better idea to only put a small amount on your plate each time you visit the buffet, rather than filling your plate to the brim on your first trip, and quickly realising that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

And don’t forget you don’t have to try everything – no need to sample all fifteen different types of pickled herring if you’ve only got eyes for the Janssons frestelse (although it might raise some eyebrows if you skip straight to the warm course).

Interested about the history of the Swedish julbord? Check out this article from The Local’s archives.

Examples:

Har ni några planer för helgen? Är ni sugna på ett julbord på lördag?

Do you have any plans for the weekend? Are you keen for a julbord on Saturday?

Har du några tips för ett vegetariskt julbord? Min pojkvän äter inte kött.

Do you have any tips for a vegetarian julbord? My boyfriend doesn’t eat meat.

Need a good Christmas gift idea? Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is now available to order.

Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it – or join The Local as a member and get your copy for free.

It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon USAmazon UKBokus or Adlibris.


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