A Scandinavian Christmas: Q&A with Anne Skoogh of Anne’s Food

Food blogs abound, but relatively few are distinctly Scandinavian. One of those is Anne’s Food, which Anne Skoogh of Nacka, Sweden (outside Stockholm), started five years ago. Anne’s Food is a great place to check out “Traditional-ish” Swedish recipes, as she refers to them, and so much more. I asked Anne to share a little bit about what Christmastime is like in Sweden.

Q. What do you love most about spending Christmas in Sweden?
A. Christmas in Sweden is really a month-long event. We celebrate the Sundays of Advent, meaning the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and that basically means Christmas starts in late November and lasts all through December. Lovely! Most households put up decorations–lights and stars–and everyone stays in, eating gingerbread–pepparkakor–and drinking spiced, warm wine–glögg. It’s a very cozy and comfortable time of year.

Q. What does a typical holiday meal look like in your family?
A. We celebrate Christmas on Dec. 24–that’s when Santa comes, and that’s when most people have their full-on holiday meal. (It’s also, very weirdly, when just about every Swede turns on the TV at 3 pm to watch a Donald Duck Christmas special. Yes, really. It’s been a tradition since 1960 and it’s still going strong!) We eat julbord, which is a Christmas smorgasbord with goodies. Most people eat a selection of sill–cured herrings in various sauces–and then often different cold cuts. Always including Christmas ham, which is a cured and cooked (not smoked) ham which has been covered with mustard and breadcrumbs and baked for a short time to give it a spicy crust. It’s served cold. There’s usually meatballs, and one of my favorites, beetroot salad. And some people eat lutfisk–made from dried cod or ling–but my family never has.

Q. Now that you have a child, what are some holiday traditions you plan to raise him with?
A. A great children’s tradition (well, we still do it) are the Advent calendars. You get a little gift each day–often chocolate, and sometimes toys as well. Titus is too small this year, but he definitely gets one next year! And he’s already helped me bake loads of cookies. (Well, he’s watched me make them.)

Anne shared a few traditional Christmas recipes from her blog:
Lussekatter – yeasted saffron buns for Lucia, December 13
Christmas ham
Knäck – almond caramels

Photos used with permission from Anne’s Food.

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