The image on the left is our hood. Looking down Kungsgatan towards city centre, there was a mass of hurried buyers as far as the eye could see. Note the decorative lighted crowns that guard over the pedestrian street. The image on the right is a view into Haga, the historic section of town. There has been an outdoor Christmas market all along the street each weekend in December.
It was in Haga that I made my ultimate Christmas and ultimate fun purchase. A tomte. How cool is he? He was made in the 1920's or 30's. I found him in an antique shop last year on our pre-visit. But, I did not buy him at the time (frugal, moi?). Now, there were only three left and this little guy was in the best condition. Best of all, his price had come down. Way down. Lucky, frugal, me. For a brief description of a tomte, click on the image.
So, besides a tomte, what else defines Christmas in Sweden? Well, I guess there would be the julbock or Christmas Goat. The goat is made from straw and wrapped in red ribbon. He is placed under the Christmas tree or near the fireplace waiting for tomte and guarding presents. There is a famous large-scale version of the straw goat in the town of Gävle. Merry pranksters tend to light it on fire every year. This year, it is untorched...so far.
More on Chritsmas in Sweden can be found here. I have to file this tradition under odd: black Christmas decorations. Saw these in a shop at the Christmas Markets at Liseberg.
I mean, we did think it was a bit odd that there were very few green Christmas lights around the city. Red? Check. Green, not so much. But, black decorations? Just plain odd.
For traditional holiday drink, eggnog comes in far behind something called Julmust. It's a holiday drink specific to Sweden.
Julmust is a non-alcoholic malt-flavored beverage that, in my opinion, tastes like a cross between Mr. Pibbs and Dr. Pepper. Apotekarnes is the preferred brand to drink (thanks, Sofie). Coca-Cola, which experiences a severe drop in sales during Christmas as Swedes switch to Julmust, has begun marketing its soda as "a Must for Christmas." Oh. So. Clever. not.
Speaking of clever
- A cantankerous or tame blue-eyed julbock
- A slutty or saintly St. Lucia bearing lussekatter
A tuneful or screeching Singing Christmas Tree of Göteborg A naughty or nice tomte