Is this Swedish Christmas trend the secret to happiness?

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
Is this Swedish Christmas trend the secret to happiness?
Are they decorating gingerbread houses for Christmas or for Novent? Who knows! Photo: Mathilda Ahlberg/Scandinav

That's unlikely, but let's talk about Novent anyway.


What’s Novent?

The word itself is a portmanteau – when parts of multiple words are combined into one, creating a mash-up of their sound and meaning – in this case a mix of the words November and Advent.

Although shops in Sweden often start selling some Christmas food, sweets and decorations as early as October, traditionalists usually think of the Christmas season as formally starting in December.

This means that you have to soldier through a dark and dreary month of November before you can start putting up Christmas lights, eating lussekatter and julmust and treating yourself to all things festive.

But there’s a revolutionary movement – or perhaps more likely a marketing coup to lure consumers into joining the Christmas shopping spree early – that starts to celebrate the holiday season before December, in order to bring a little more Christmas cheer to November.

The Noventers put up wreaths, light candles, treat themselves to a cheeky cup of hot mulled wine and talk about how mysigt everything is. Gingerbread snaps? Dig in, they say! It’s only Novent once a year.

How did this Swedish tradition start?

Not sure we can call it a tradition just yet.

The word was picked in 2020 by the Swedish Language Council and language magazine Språktidningen as one of the new words that became part of daily conversation that year, but it’s only three years later that it’s starting to really pick up pace.


Does everyone in Sweden observe Novent?

Not in the slightest, but it does appear to be gaining wider acceptance as “a thing”.

In the last few weeks alone, a headline in the Expressen tabloid read “Novent is starting – here’s how to celebrate the new, cosy holiday”, Swedish lifestyle blogger Elsa Billgren wrote that November may even be her new favourite month thanks to Novent, and even Sweden’s public radio broadcaster shared tips about how to get the Christmas season off to an early start by observing Novent.

We're trying very hard to avoid the instinct to be snarky, because trends do catch on quickly in Sweden, so don’t be surprised if those you may think of as philistines now turn out to be visionaries and come next year we’ll all pretend Novent has been around forever.

It certainly beats some of the other November traditions we have in Sweden.


Is it the secret to happiness?

Probably not in the grand scheme of things, but some psychologists do argue that bringing out your Christmas decorations early could have a positive effect on your mood, partly because of the lights and colours and partly because it’s a change of rhythm from your daily routine.

When will international lifestyle magazines start writing about Novent?

Three, two, one...


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also