A voice for newcomers in Sweden

#SwedishChristmas: The festive feast that has stood the test of time

A julbord contains a mix of savoury and sweet foods, with a lot of fish. Photo: Henrik Holmberg / TT

Published: 11.Dec.2018 06:59 hrs

With its Viking roots, the julbord is a Swedish tradition with true staying power.

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The julbord, which literally translates to 'Christmas table', is a Scandinavian tradition with historical roots going all the way back to the time of the Vikings. As Christianity spread through the Nordic countries, the Viking mid-winter feast was reinterpreted as a part of the celebration of Christmas, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that the julbord as we know it today began to emerge.

While the modern julbord is as likely to be enjoyed at a restaurant as in a private home, it hasn’t always been that way. The early julbord was primarily a family event, hosted on or around Julafton (Christmas Eve). Accordingly, 19th century Swedish newspapers are filled with advertisements for caterers and confectioners offering their products and services to hosts. Many of the items common at a modern julbord, such as sweets like pepparkakor and savouries like julbullar (Christmas meatballs), were on offer as established julbord favourites by the mid-1800s.

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