What are the traditions that make Christmas in the Nordic countries special? Here are four of our favourites, as described for you by some of STP’s resident Danes, Finns, Norwegians and Swedes.

door-knockerIn Sweden, Santa comes around dinner time on the 24th. If there’s no kind neighbour around to play Santa, like my grandad used to for local families, the father usually ‘goes out to buy a newspaper’. While he’s gone, Santa appears, knocks on the door and asks if there are any good little children in the house.”
Pia Andersson, Swedish translator

cemetery2In Finland, we go to a cemetery on Christmas Eve and light candles for loved ones who have passed away. Every cemetery has a memorial stone or other dedicated place for those who are buried elsewhere. A snow-covered graveyard with hundreds of candles really is quite a sight.”
Martta Mäkinen, Finnish account linguist

tomteIn Norway, there’s an old tradition of putting a bowl of porridge outside the door, supposedly for the ‘nisse’ (a gnome-like creature from Nordic folklore). There’s even a festive song called På låven sitter nissen (the nisse is in the barn) about mice trying to eat the nisse’s Christmas porridge.”
Hanne Morken, Norwegian translator

rice-pudding2“On Christmas Eve in Denmark, we eat risalamande: rice pudding with whipped cream, chopped almonds and cherry sauce. It contains one whole almond, and whoever gets it wins a prize. The winner usually keeps it quiet, thus forcing the rest of the diners to eat silly amounts of dessert.”
Bjarke Andersen, Danish account linguist

Whichever traditions you follow, and whether you celebrate Christmas or not, all of us at STP wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful end to 2016, and a prosperous new year ahead.

Nordic culture