Every family has their own special Christmas traditions. Our family heritage on my mother’s side is Swedish and our family name is Nordahl. My grandparents were both born on a little lonely island, fully encompassed by the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Sweden named Gotland. My grandparents were enormously proud that their four children, three boys and one girl, were first generation Americans. As they settled in the New England area, they made sure to maintain many of the traditions of their homeland. My Mom, my grandparents only daughter, continued much of the Swedish tradition so important to their family.
My favorite Swedish traditions revolve around Christmas. In Sweden the Christmas season begins on December 13th with Saint Lucia’s Day and continues through January 13th with the ceremonially taking down of the tree. Christmas is celebrated on December 24th with a huge feast which is traditionally celebrated at midnight. It is a blend of all my favorite things: faith in God, family, and food! On Christmas Eve, Tomte (the Swedish name for Santa Claus) delivers gifts to each boy and girl. Those gifts are opened after giving thanks to God and sharing the family feast.
This great Christmas Eve feast comes complete with julskinka (a specially prepared Christmas ham), vortbrod (my favorite rye bread), gravlax (pickled herring–not my favorite), and my very favorite dish called kotbuller (the best meatballs you’ll ever have). For dessert we always have risgrysngrot (a delicious rice pudding). In the rice pudding there is always one almond and tradition states that whoever receives the almond in their bowl will have good luck for the coming year.
My wife, Karen, has done an amazing job of maintaining these traditions and teaching our kids these same traditions. At our home you will see many Swedish decorations, Colton has become a pro at making Swedish meatballs and ham balls, and Alyssa prepares the best rice pudding you’ll ever have. We celebrate the night before Christmas with friends and family giving thanks to God for His blessings, enjoy a huge feast complete with many Swedish dishes, but we have chosen to still open our presents Christmas morning.
This season enjoy your own Christmas traditions as you thank God for His blessings, and enjoy the love of family. Remember–the real reason for this season is Jesus Christ!
From the Taylor family to your family…”GOD JUL!” (basically, Merry Christmas!).