Typical Scandinavian Christmas feast on Xmas eve

A guide to celebrating Scandinavian festivals from Marja-Leena's early life!

Marja-Leena's formative years flourished with the meaningful traditions of Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) - and their enchanting fables, customary callings, and cheerful celebrations that were past down the family line. Could this be why these counties are still so darn content? Let's stroll through their wonderful patchwork of customs and festivities that help shape Marja-Leena's life!

Shrove Tuesday, or Fettisdagen, is observed from February 3 to March 9. It is the seventh Tuesday before Easter. While Norwegians/Danes eat Fastelavnsbolle with jam and vanilla cream, Swedes eat Semla with almond paste and cream. It is the beginning of Lent, a 40-day fasting season. On Shrove Tuesday, bread rolls are still widely consumed today as they have been since the Middle Ages.

Våffeldagen (Waffle day) is celebrated on the 25th March in Sweden. This date used to be all about the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, but today it's mostly about waffles.

Walpurgis Night (or Valborg in Swedish) is an old Swedish tradition celebrated on 30th April. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to scare away witches and bad spirits. These days, it's more about celebrating the end of winter and arrival of spring.

Midsummer, or "midsommar" in Swedish, is a mix of old and new traditions. In Sweden, it's the main summer party. Picking flowers to make head crowns/wreaths for the maypole is key. Later, the maypole is raised and traditional ring-dances take place. To finish, pick 7 flowers to put under the pillow: it's said you'll dream of your future spouse.


Midsummer by Marja-Leena

Celebrated in Norway and Denmark, Saint John's Eve (known as Sankt Hans Aften) marks the day before the Feast of Saint John the Baptiste. Bonfires, singing, family reunions, and eating and drinking are common during the evening celebration at sunset on 23 June.

Swedish kräftskiva, or crayfish party, is a traditional summer eating and drinking celebration to mark the late summer crayfish harvest. Though legal restrictions used to limit the date of harvest to August, now it can be celebrated whenever.

a plate of crayfish
On October 4th, the Cinnamon Roll Day, Kanelbullens dag, is celebrated in Sweden. The celebration’s purpose is to increase attention to Swedish baking traditions, focusing mainly on cinnamon buns.

Scandinavians celebrate St. Lucy's Day, known as Lucia in Sweden, Lussinatten in Norway, and Luciadag in Denmark. This is done to honor St. Lucy as the bringer of light during the region's dark winters on the 13th December. Participants wear white garments and carry candles while singing.


 St Lucia's Day by Marja-Leena

Christmas Eve, 24th December is much more important than Christmas Day, in Scandinavia. This likely stems from the Viking heritage, in which a new day begins at sunset. On Christmas Eve, gifts are opened and some attend church in Sweden.


Christmas by Marja-Leena

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