Swedish word of the day: julvärd

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: julvärd
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today's word of the day is julvärd, an important word to know if you'll be watching TV in Sweden on Christmas Eve this year.


Julvärd is made up of the words jul (Christmas) and värd (host).

julvärd refers to the person presenting the Christmas Day programming each year in Sweden. SVT's julvärd changes each year, and julvärd announcements are major news, with the year's choice regularly making headlines when it is revealed in autumn live on SVT.

This year's julvärd is David Batra, a comedian and actor who happens to also be married to the former leader of the Moderate Party, Anna Kinberg Batra. He was born in Lund to an Indian father and a Swedish mother.

He is known in Sweden for a number of popular TV programmes. One is as Kvarteret Skatan (The Magpie Quarter), a cult comedy series from the early 2000s which we discuss in more detail in this article.

Another is travel show Världens sämsta indier (literally "World's Worst Indian", although the English title is Homecoming), where he travels India with SVT correspondent Malin Mendel in order to learn more about his Indian heritage. We spoke to Mendel about the show and about working with Batra earlier this year.

Finally, he was a judge on Talang, the Swedish version of Got Talent between 2017 and 2022. We spoke to Indian dance group IndiskFika last year after Batra sent their dance act direct to the final.


The story of the julvärd dates back to early TV and radio history, where programmes were introduced by a hallåa – a word which translates as a "hello-er", coming from the period in radio history where national programmes connected to local programmes with the greeting "hallå hallå" or "hello hello".

Early television was not without issues – there could be technical problems with TV broadcasts, and longer films or television programmes often required multiple rolls of film, meaning that programmes often had at least one break during broadcast to change to the next roll. It could also take up to five minutes to switch between TV stations in different parts of the country.

This all meant that there were frequent breaks in television broadcasts which needed to be filled, which is why hallåor were so important. They provided entertainment and presented the upcoming programme in a time where TV trailers didn't exist, ensuring that viewers didn't get bored and turn off their televisions.

Although hallåor are unusual on Swedish television nowadays, the yearly julvärd is one example of continuing the tradition. The most famous julvärd through the years is Arne Weise, the late Swedish television personality who fronted the show for three decades.

You can watch this year's julvärd on SVT 1 (in Swedish), starting at 3pm on Christmas Eve with the yearly showing of Donald Duck.


Example sentences:

SVT har precis avslöjat vem som kommer vara julvärd i år.

SVT has just revealed who will be Christmas host this year.

Julvärden firar jul tillsammans med hela svenska folket på julafton.

The Christmas host celebrates Christmas with everyone in Sweden on Christmas Eve.

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