Christmas in Sweden

Eilidh Henderson
Friday 23 December 2022

I was lucky enough to spend the Christmas period in Sweden. It was so much fun being in Sweden, surrounded by snow, and taking part in different Swedish Christmas traditions! 

In the beginning of December I took the night train up to Kiruna in Swedish Lapland, where loads of snow had already fallen. Kiruna looked absolutely beautiful with all of the snow and Christmas lights. During the few hours of daylight I went skiing (despite it being around minus 25 degrees!) and at night I stayed up hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights – sadly I didn’t manage to see them.

Sunrise in Kiruna
Sunset in Kiruna – only a few hours later


Back in Stockholm I visited a few of the Christmas markets with my friends. The markets were made up of lots of little wooden huts, each offering traditional Swedish food, jewellery, or handmade items. I did most of my Christmas shopping for my family at these markets, and also treated myself to lots of glögg – Swedish mulled wine!

Stortorget Christmas Market in Stockholm
Enjoying glögg at Skansen Christmas Market
Christmas Market at Skansen open air museum


I enjoyed seeing all of the Christmas lights and decorations in Stockholm – especially the Christmas moose! I also travelled to Gävle to visit the (in)famous Gävle goat. Yule goats (little goats made of straw) are a Christmas tradition dating back to ancient times. Since 1966 a giant yule goat has been built in the town of Gävle, around two hours north of Stockholm. The goat is supposed to stand on Castle Square from the first Sunday of Advent until New Year, however most years the goat has unfortunately been burned to the ground. I was lucky enough to see the goat before it was burned down! You can even follow the Gävle goat on social media or check out the livestream to check that it’s still standing!

Me in front of the Christmas moose – my favourite Christmas decorations in Stockholm!
The Gävle Goat is 13 metres tall and weighs over 3 tonnes!


Towards the end of the semester, some of the exchange students got together with our Swedish friends for a big Christmas dinner. We each brought some traditional Christmas food (and drink) from our home countries and ended up with a huge feast! I brought some homemade mince pies and brandy butter, but the Swedes were very sceptical of these, as the name suggests they’re made out of mince. However, once they tasted them, and realised they don’t contain mince, they said they were very tasty.

The Swedish Defence University at Christmas time


I spent Christmas with my parents in Åre, a beautiful ski resort in central Sweden. We went skiing, of course, and enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner on the 24th, when most Swedes celebrate Christmas. It was strange celebrating Christmas a day early, but it meant we got to celebrate all over again on the 25th. Then on boxing day we flew back to Scotland in order to celebrate Hogmanay here!

A white Christmas in Sweden
Skiing in Åre


Spending the Christmas period abroad was so much fun. It was great to take part in the festivities with Swedes and other exchange students and I enjoyed learning more about Swedish Christmas traditions. And with all of the Christmas lights and snow it was hard not to feel Christmassy! Wherever you end up spending the festive period, I would definitely recommend finding out about how Christmas is celebrated there and taking part in some of the local Christmas traditions.


Blog post written by Duncan Cooper

Duncan studied at Försvarshögskolan, the Swedish Defence University

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