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Scandinavian Christmas Traditions 🎄

Scandinavian Christmas Traditions 🎄

Gabrielle Spang
4 minute read

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With just a few days away from Christmas we are all about Scandinavian Christmas Traditions in this house. When travel is banned due to Covid-19 restrictions and dreams of a family Christmas has come to an abrupt end, they are more important than ever. At least for us, as a Swedish family living in London since 2001.

Over the past week I've been baking Scandinavian saffron buns, boiled traditional salted caramel fudge, made my own Swedish lingonberry jam, baked a soft gingerbread cake with lingonberry frosting (recipe below), marinated salmon, made our own mulled wine and the children have had heaps of our own mulled apple cider (recipe below). We've been busy!

It may surprise you but Christmas traditions vary wildly across the Scandinavian countries, and there are even huge regional differences in each country. The main ingredients of a typical Scandinavian Christmas table may be very different from a Dane or a Norwegian to a Swede. 

For us as a family, Scandinavian Christmas food is a smorgasbord of Christmas ham, different sorts of pickled herring, Christmas meatballs, Christmas sausages, marinated salmon, prawns or roe on egg halves, beer flavoured vort bread; served along sides of red cabbage, brussel sprouts and kale salads.

In a normal year, different family members take turns to make the Christmas food as there are so many different dishes to prepare. This year we will have a cut down version but try and incorporate as much as possible without killing ourselves in the process.   

Photo source: Pinterest

At 3 pm every Christmas eve, the whole of Sweden turns on their TVs to watch a series of Disney films which have been shown since the 60s, nowadays updated to include a snippet of the most recent Disney film. When it's over the real celebrations can begin. Yes, agreed, this part is a little bit strange. This year we will have to trust our yearly Disney Christmas fix on YouTube.

After this, will sit down to eat from the large and varied Christmas table and when everyone has been back to for a third or forth helping, there will be a knock on the door. This means Santa is here, delivering the Christmas presents in an old-fashioned jute sack.

The remainder of the Christmas presents will be under the tree. Santa sits down by the tree whilst everyone gathers around in a circle, he wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and starts handing out the presents.

Soft Gingerbread Cake with Lingonberry Frosting


100 grams of butter

2 eggs

2 dl of granulated sugar

1.5 dl of soured cream

3 dl plain flour 

1 tsp of bicarbonate

2 tsp of cinnamon

2 tsp of ground ginger

1 tsp of ground cloves

Lingonberry Frosting:

150 grams of butter

1 dl of icing sugar

150 grams of cream cheese

Half a decilitre of lingonberry jam 


  1. Heat the oven to 170 C (160 fan). Grease a 24 cm round cake (we used a Christmas tree shaped tin).
  2. Melt the butter and let cool. Using a hand-held electric whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Sift into the egg mix and fold in gently. Add the butter and soured cream and fold again. Pour the mixture into the cake tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for circa 35 minutes. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
  5. To make the icing, melt the butter and let it brown. Let it cool.
  6. Sift the butter from any dregs and pour into a bowl. Put in a cool place, fridge or similar for 15 mins. 
  7. Combine the icing sugar, butter, cream cheese and lingonberry jam with a hand-held electric whisk and beat until smooth and well combined.
  8. Spread over the cake (or use piping bags) and decorate with a dusting of icing sugar and lingonberries if you have any.

Apple Cider Recipe Serves 6

1 Vanilla Pod

1.5 litres of apple juice

1 apple

Half a gram of saffron


1. Divide, core and slice the apple. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod.

2. Heat the apple juice together with the spices and apple slices. Keep at a constant temperature of 60 degrees C.

3. Serve.  


xx Scandi Minimal


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