Early winter has so many things to love. We love it for the first snow, decorated shop windows, Christmas lights. That's the time when we start feeling festive and look forward for the coming winter holidays. However, this mood comes at different moments every year: sometimes with the first snow, and sometimes only on the night of Christmas Eve. This year we experienced it much earlier, even before the first sights of snow. That's because we made a Pre-Christmas journey to Sweden in early December. The idea of visiting this country before the winter holidays came to the guys from VisitSweden, and when they asked us to join we were happy to agree! We started out in Gothenburg and crossed the country with the destination point of Stockholm. On our way we stopped at small towns, remote farms and freshly opened Christmas fairs.
Christmas in Sweden is celebrated on the 24th of December. However, the street decorations begin to sparkle a month before the holiday, festive firs take their places in the squares, and Christmas candlesticks decorated with moss and twigs of cranberries appear in every house. By the way, candles in Sweden are part of a special tradition. Four weeks before Christmas, on Sunday, the first of the four candles in Advent candlestick is lighted up, and then each following Sunday a new flame lights until all four candles shine on Christmas Eve.
Traditional Christmas markets open throughout Sweden a month before the holiday. The craftsmen gather from the whole country, so the market stalls are full of local products, handmade toys and Christmas decorations. We visited the markets in Gothenburg, Linköping and Stockholm, and neither one of them left us empty-handed! Having a meal there is a pleasure, too: the air is filled with aromas of campfire, baked goods and roasted chestnuts. There is also an integral part of the fair – Glögg. It’s a hot wine with spices, raisins and almonds, so wonderful to take along with ginger biscuits or saffron buns.
The Christmas mood does not evade restaurants. From late November till Christmas they suggest Julbord – the Swedish Christmas table. It’s represented by lots of traditional Swedish dishes: shrimps, pickled herring, salted salmon, meats and poultry, paste and ham. And of course it would be incomplete without all the favorite meatballs with lingonberry jam and potatoes! As Christmas is traditionally celebrated with the family, Julbord is a good reason to gather with friends before the holiday.
In December the whole Sweden is saturated with the spirit of upcoming holidays. No matter where you are: in a large and noisy capital or in a small village – light garlands are hanging over the main streets everywhere, and candlesticks or star shaped lamps are placed on the window sills. This time our trip lasted only for five days, but even that was enough to embrace the New-Year mood which did not leave us even when we came back home. But, of course, five days are not enough to travel around the country, as there are also northern regions and the famous Swedish archipelagos. Therefore, we plan to go there again.