good morning! it’s annandagen here in sweden… which literally means “the other day of christmas”! yep. we have christmas eve, christmas day, and an extra day too here! it’s kinda like having an official day to bring yourself back down from all the holiday bustle, without just crashing as soon as christmas day is over. it’s the swedish version of boxing day (which is celebrated in many countries, but not the states).
what do we do on annandagen? i’d dare say that all of the countries celebrate in the same way now… shopping like crazy people! the secular holiday is mixed up with the forgotten religious observance of today (the remembrance of the stoning of st. stephan, another story for another time. but a good story of courage & martyrdom) and what that all equals in this consumerist, western society of europe, canada, & the states (even though we don’t celebrate boxing day/annadagen) is the beginning of the big after christmas shopping season. deal! deals! deals! here in sweden there is even a name for the days between christmas & new years… mellandagarna (the middle/in-between days) with mellandagsrea (middle days sales). if you’re lucky, you don’t have to go back to work during these days &, in-between shopping trips, you can take it easy & spend some quiet, cozy time with family & friends.
so, i’ve begun my day just like that. cozy with coffee. still stuffed & worn out from the weekends celebrations, hanging out under the covers in bed while a crazy storm blows intensely outside the windows. no. it’s not snow. still, it’s cozy weather. perfect for just being.
but, before i get too far ahead of myself, i wanna back up & share a little of our christmas celebrations!
christmas eve morning, we opened our stockings! tomten (sweden’s santa) had visited & left us with one gift each that we could use during the day! i got some perfume & lina got a necklace. perfect!
i’m ready!!! we headed to lina’s parents’ early with our bags of food, drink, & gifts… ready for a long, busy, cozy julafton (christmas eve)!
after a quiet breakfast of porridge & sandwiches, we met up with some other family at lina’s grandparents’ apartment for a christmas eve afternoon fika of ham sandwiches (cheese for lina & me!), chocolate muffins, cookies, meatballs, fruit salad, coffee, & julmust (christmas soda). we also gathered to hear the christmas story read from the gospel of luke. lina’s granddad was a methodist minister when he worked, so it was amazing to sit & watch him listen as the story was read aloud. i’ve celebrated christmas with this family for 3 years now, & it was the first time that i experienced this tradition with them. i must say, my heart was warmed & touched.
then it was a race to lina’s sister’s home for the continuation of the festivities with 14 other people! we raced because at 3:00 every christmas eve afternoon, all swedes gather ’round the tv to watch donald duck (and other disney) cartoons. don’t ask. i have no idea how, when, or why this started. but, i like it!!! i heart disney.
after donald duck…. dinner! julbord (christmas table)! a meal filled with traditional swedish favorites, much of which lina & i don’t eat, being vegetarians. still, it was yummy & good! and the table was beautiful.
the christmas eve madness continued after dinner, & a pause for all adults to catch their breath, with the arrival of tomten! there was a knock on the door, all 7 children went running down the stairs, i followed with my youngest niece, who was experiencing her first christmas, in my left arm & my camera in my right hand, to capture this exciting moment on christmas eve! tomten joined us all upstairs & gave out a massive pile of presents to all 16 of us!
i believe little e (our youngest niece) was the nicest, as she had a stack of gifts at my feet! ♥
we retired back downstairs at the table for fika (more food & coffee), and then to the living room to watch “national lampoon’s christmas vacation” which just happened to come on tv! this meant so much to me, since, my family in the states would always watch this together on christmas eve. yes. that’s my family’s civilized level: raunchy, stupid humor. but, we love it! anyway, my lovely swedish family indulged me & we had a cozy time laughing & enjoying one of my american traditions in the midst of all the swedish traditions. tack allihop!
lina & i arrived home late, i believe it was actually already christmas day, & went straight to bed, satisfied & excited from our swedish christmas eve activities…
** i’ve just been informed (reminded) that we did not, in fact, go straight to bed. we stayed up, had a christmas movie on tv, played around on our computers, & finally lay down about 2-ish. hmpf. i blame my lack of remembering on the christmas food coma & sheer exhaustion. thanks, lina, for setting me straight. =)
a few hours later, we woke up on christmas morning!!! we lit the white christ candle (our advent wreath now complete), made a pot of coffee, turned on christmas music, & jumped right into the present-opening craziness!
gifts! gifts! gifts! thanks to my love & my parents!!
merry christmas from us… in our early christmas morning finest!
happy day-after-christmas! keep the spirit alive! peace.
Sounds like an amazing Christmas. Have to set you straight on one thing though… In Switzerland all shops are closed on the 26th as it is a holiday/sunday. So we don’t start the bargain hunt until the 27th and I have to say I love it that way. Ireland would have been all open but I went on a foxhunt on horseback. xx
Nicole: This was the first year I saw things open, but only for a few hours. A fox hunt? Do those really happen?! They are just a story to me… super cool!