Ever since I started to learn Swedish, I have been fascinated by everything about Sweden. I have already celebrated Christmas like the Germans. When I was younger I often received an Adventskalender from a German friend at the end of November, which is a box with 24 little windows one for each day from Dec 1st to Dec 24th. There were usually small pieces of candy or chocolate hidden behind each window. It was fun to get a little gift while waiting for Christmas to arrive, and it used to be the first thing I did when I got up. ;-) Swedes borrowed a lot of tradition from the Germans as well, for instance, they also have Advent, for which they will light a candle every Sunday, and people will also hang an Advent star symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem as decoration.
On Dec 13th, a special Swedish tradition called St. Lucia takes place where an elected Lucia wears a crown of candles (of course nowadays it is powered by batteries, especially when it’s supposed to be worn by small kids), and dressed in a white gown with red girdle comes with her handmaidens and star boys, singing the Lucia Song. St Lucia brings light to the darkness of the world. I fell in love with it when I first saw the Gothic version of St. Lucia in Absolut Vodka’s Nordic legend advertisement series.
Since the Middle Ages Swedish people have been known to drink glögg during Advent, a spiced mulled wine. The word “glögg”comes from an older verb “glödga” which is not commonly used in Sweden anymore and it means “heated up”. The drink is usually served warm, and comes in different flavors, but the most common one is made of red wine and different spices, and this helps fighting the cold in chilly winter. Almonds and raisins also go with the wine, as well as ginger thins (a thin gingerbread-like crackers). “Glögg” also has a non-alcoholic version which is made from the juice from dark berries instead of red wine. In the winter time it’s easy to get “Glögg” in the local market or a grocery store in Sweden. In China, of course the best place to find it is Ikea. You can warm the bottle in a pot of hot water, then serve the warm contents. Or, you can also try to make it from scratch. ;-)
Kitchen Gadgets: Saucepan
- 400ml French red wine
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp orange peel
- 5 whole cardamom
- 3 cloves
- 2 tsp sugar
- Put all the spices into a tea strainer, place the strainer in the saucepan then pour in the wine.
- Turn on the lowest heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve with almonds and raisins! And of course ginger thins if you have any.