In Sweden Christmas Eve is the big day. Christmas day is for going clubbing (no thanks!), early sales (again, no thanks!) and just chilling (much better).
In my family we open the stockings on Christmas Eve morning. Christmas stockings are not a Swedish tradition, but my family thinks it’s nice and cosy. But we only open a few presents in the morning as Father Christmas always comes by in the evening with a sack full of gifts (no chimney action in Sweden).
Then at 3pm, the whole country is glued to the television watching Donald Duck and other Disney cartoons. It sounds silly, but it’s one of the fundamentals of a Swedish Christmas Eve.
Then in the evening, probably after coffee and cake while watching Donald Duck and then glögg and gingerbread a bit later, it’s time for dinner. In most families this comprises a julbord; a smorgasbord with lots of Christmas food, like herring, smoked salmon, cooked ham, meatballs, sausages, cabbage, sprouts, Janssons temptation, patés, ribs etc etc).
We took an alternative route this year, stepping away from the traditional heavy food, and instead enjoying, a still festive, and a little Christmas-y, menu.
For pudding we had the same as we do on Christmas Eve; Ris a’la Malta. A cold rice porridge with a lot of whipped cream folded in, served with a berry sauce, but as this dessert is seriously rich we served it in individual bowls. (It’s usually served in a large bowl it an almond hidden in the porridge and you try to eat as much as possible to secure the almons and receive a gift. )
This alternative approach to the Christmas dinner suited my family perfectly. It felt festive (more festive than ham, cabbage and meatballs actually) and even though the food was still on the heavy side it’s nothing compared to the julbord.