Swedish Ways: Da’n före doppareda’n

December 23 is to Swedes what December 24 is to everyone who celebrate Christmas on the 25th: it’s The Day Before. We have our julfirande on the 24th, so the day before it’s done in places like the UK. As a Swede living in Britain, treating the 24th as, well, the 23rd is treated back home, is very strange indeed. If I work for a British company and spend Christmas in the UK, I have to book the day off if it falls on a weekday, because otherwise, you’re expected to work. How can I be at work when I’m supposed to be celebrating Christmas?!

Anyway, more about a Swedish Christmas tomorrow.

Today, we light the fourth and final candle in the Advent chandelier, eat the penultimate chocolate in the calendar, watch the penultimate episode of the TV calendar, and prepare for tomorrow. This generally means starting to prepare food. I meant to write this post earlier in the day, but I was busy preparing food, see. 😉

I made some of the traditional candy (boiling sugar, cream and syrup together for a bit), prepared a kind of vegetable-and-meat mayo-based salad my family always make this time of year, and pickled some herring. Sure, you can buy the jars of stuff from places like IKEA, but we always make a couple ourselves. Dad oven-roasted the ham. Yesterday, I baked some lussekatter.

My family always seem to end up having to do a lot of cleaning to finish up on the 23rd, so it’s always been a very hectic day. I’d like Christmas to be a day to enjoy, and not just stress around. It would be so nice to just be able to sit down and have some gingerbread and drink some glögg (mulled wine) in the evening of the 23rd and just relax … Not stress around trying to put up curtains, decorate the tree, hoover, make food, and going to bed at 2am, etc. etc.

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On the plus side, you normally get TV channels and radio stations doing an uppesittarkväll, which in a literal translation means “sitting up evening”. You sit up and basically wait for the clock to drag itself toward midnight, but being entertained while waiting. What the TV shows are like, I don’t know, as I’ve never managed to sit down and watch one, due to having to do a lot of other things. The radio shows tend to be quite nice, though. We’d normally have the radio on in the kitchen, and toward midnight, they would have someone walking around Visby on Gotland, knocking on peoples’ doors, wishing them a merry Christmas.

Would you get a white Christmas in Sweden? It very much depends on where you are. Up north, sure. As I’m from the west coast, near Gothenburg, chances are not that great. However, it’s currently snowing outside, so fingers crossed it will stay on until tomorrow! Seems like everywhere else in Sweden has a foot or more of snow, except for here, but nature seems to be on the case. 🙂

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Well, okay, 2010 was snowy too …

The family has been assembled. The oldest sister arrived today, the middle sister will stop by tomorrow (she lives nearby, unlike us other two), and we’re all set for a nice time. Which I’ll tell you all about tomorrow …

Oh, yes, I almost forgot to explain the title of the post. It’s “the day before the dipping day”. The “dipping day” is Christmas Eve, where you would have a meal of dipping bread in the liquid in which you boiled the Christmas ham, or something like that. Like a sort of brothy fondue. Everyone uses the phrase, even those of us who have never boiled their ham, but always have it oven-baked. But there you go. Tomorrow’s Dopparedagen

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