It has been said that in Scandinavian countries Christmas is so popular
it lasts a month. The celebrations begin on December 14, Saint Lucia's
Day and continue until January 13, Saint Knut's Day.
Saint Lucia Day celebrations
begin in the morning when the oldest daughter wears a white robe,
a red sash, and a crown of lighted candles as she serves coffee
and Lussekake - Saint Lucia Buns- to other members of the family.
Later in the day, communities celebrate with Saint Lucia parades,
and carols are sung in the praise of the Queen of Light, who it
is said, brought hope at a dark hour.
Following Saint Lucia
Day, the preparations for Christmas begin. The house is cleaned
and the baking begins. A traditional dish to be served at the end
of the Christmas Eve smorgasbord is rice pudding which contains
a single almond. Whoever finds the nut is supposed to get married
within the coming year.
Jultomten is the Swedish
Santa Claus. He is a little dwarf-like person who delivers presents
on Christmas Eve. Before Jultomten came to Sweden, the Christmas
presents were handed out by a Christmas goat. The Christmas goat,
a popular Swedish Christmas decoration is most often made of straw
and is the oldest Swedish Christmas symbol.
Christmas presents in
Sweden are known as "Christmas knocks," a name given long
before the coming of Jultomten. On Christmas night, Swedes would
tiptoe up to the doors of their friends and family, knock hard and
throw presents inside, escaping before being recognized. Often the
"Christmas knock" would have a rhyming dedication on its
wrapper. This tradition lives on today with Christmas presents that
are accompanied by "Christmas rhymes".