Advent Calendar / 23 December
It’s the Day before Christmas Eve, and I just put my Christmas Ham in the oven before starting on this post.
The Swedish word for Christmas is “Jul” (the same word as the old English “Yule”, dating back to pre-Christian times). Christmas Eve is “julafton”. However, we also have an alternative name for that day, which would translate “Dipping Day”. This refers to a tradition of dipping bread into the broth left over from cooking the meat.
Traditionally, there is sort of a count-down going on the week (or so) before Christmas, which makes today “the day before Dipping Day”. With just one day to go, that’s not much of a challenge; but for example Monday this week would have been “the day before the day before the day before the day before Dipping Day” – etc. (The only limitation for when to start the countdown is really your own ability to keep count.)
You may be familiar with the concept of the Scandinavian smörgåsbord (in English spelled smorgasbord) - a buffet with a wide variety of dishes. (“bord” literally means “table”) Well, the Julbord is similar; only more of everything, and extra special Christmas dishes added.
What should be included in the “julbord” varies a bit between different parts of the country, and from family to family. If you’re interested, read the Wikipedia article, because this is one subject which I’m not qualified to write about. Our family traditions were rather modest in this respect – especially in later years - and my own even more so!
It probably says something about how strong the tradition of the ham as the centerpiece of the Julbord is, though, that this is just about the only thing that I sometimes do bother to make myself. (Christmas without ham is for us like Thanksgiving without turkey for the Americans. Or at least that’s my impression from Americans movies and sitcoms!)
In spite of the ham, Christmas food fanatics would probably feel deeply disappointed looking into my fridge. Not that it’s empty, but since I’m not much of traditional Christmas food fan myself, I’ll be quite content eating other things - and hopefully not much more of them than I usually do.
In fact, the only other thing in my fridge that really shouts out “jul” is a couple of bottles of Julmust. This is a special soft drink made from a secret recipe. It was created by a father and son Roberts in 1910 as a non-alcoholic alternative to beer. It is still made exclusively by the same company and the original recipe is said to be locked up in a safe with only one person knowing all the ingredients. The beverage is closely associated with Christmas, is also sold at Easter but traditionally not at all in the summer. In the Christmas season however, Julmust outsells Coca-Cola in Sweden, and not only that - the consumption of Coca-Cola drops by 50% during the same time.
One more thing that is a “must have” for me at Christmas is gingerbread cookies, but I do not bake them myself any more (too hard on my neck-shoulder-arm problems). What I did do a few days ago was bake a cake with the same spices – less hard work, but still gives the right smell ;)
I also like a special Christmas blend of green tea which I buy at my favourite tea shop.
So: Christmas ham, Julmust, gingerbread and Green Christmas Tea… I’m all set! ;)
As for the expected snowstorm, it has not showed up yet in the area where I live (inland south-west). It now seems it will hit the south-east coast the hardest. The snow that is already here is not going anywhere though! The outside temperature is –8°C. Just nipped outside to dispose of some garbage bags… Brrr, quite a wind blowing too… I’m staying in…!