What’s one of the greatest benefits of being Santa Claus? Why, getting to enjoy all of the different Christmas customs as you travel the world in just ONE night, of course! Catch Santa on November 26 on Bronner’s Facebook LIVE, where he, Mrs. Claus and Autumn the Elf share their memories of a few Christmas traditions from around the world. Highlighted among them are the wonderful candlelit Swedish Christmas traditions like Advent and St. Lucia Day! You just may want to snag these and a few others for yourself. We’ll help you!
Swedish Christmases weave together good food, special activities and time with loves ones by a thread of great traditions. To celebrate Christmas in true Swede style, the first thing you must do is adjust your calendar for the big day, December 24! (We can hear the children cheering already. 🤣) But don’t worry, the fun of Christmastime in Sweden lasts the whole month long!
Swedish Christmas Traditions By Candlelight
It comes as no surprise that because Sweden is a Nordic country, characterized by dark winter’s, their Christmases are heavily celebrated with a wealth and warmth of candlelit traditions!
In this edition of Swedish Christmas traditions, we take a look at those infused with candlelight …
Tradition Of Advent
It is the first Sunday of Advent that marks the official start to the Swedish Christmas season!
What exactly is Advent? Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus,” which means “coming.” What’s more, Advent is celebrated in anticipation of the coming of Christ. So what better way is there to get ready for the coming of CHRISTmas and the celebration of Jesus’ birth than with the tradition of Advent?!
In short, the Advent countdown is often celebrated one of two ways. And that is by way of calendar or candles.
Advent calendars were first introduced to Sweden in 1932 . However the origins date back much further. Originally, the Advent calendar was created in the 1800s, and families used chalk to draw a line, usually on a door, to represent each day from the 1st until the 25th of December. Later, devotional images were created for each day to add to the calendar. This eventually led to the creation of the first handmade Advent calendar (from wood) in 1851.
In 1906 the first printed calendars came on the scene. Then, just two years later in 1908, the Advent calendar was reimagined with little windows that could be opened with each passing day to reveal a different picture. Gerhard Lang is credited for producing the first actual calendar to be printed. Furthermore, in 1926 he introduced the first chocolate Advent calendar with 20 pieces of chocolate from the Stollwerck company .
However with paper shortages during WWII, Hitler banned the production of Advent calendars😱. Thankfully, after the war ended, Richard Sellmar gained a permit to begin producing and selling the revered calendars once again. (Bronner’s carries many of his beloved Advent calendars still today!)
Before long, Advent calendars evolved to include chocolates molded into holiday shapes such as bells, trees, or gifts. As the Germanic tradition became more globally celebrated, Advent calendars enjoyed a heightened popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. And while Advent has historical roots that run deep, this fun tradition is certainly gaining traction once again with the “advent” of innovative renditions like the Storybook Collection, stickered or color-by-number scenes, and Advent boxes in which you can hide treats, toys or gifts of your choice. Additionally, there are coffee calendars, puzzle calendars, calendars to celebrate the CHEESEason, nail polishes and so much more!
German Protestants also celebrated the days of Advent with candles, a celebration that continues to strongly mark Swedish Christmas traditions today.
The Advent tradition typically features 4 candles – one lit each Sunday, and burned a quarter through, leading up to Christmas.
In true Scandinavian fashion, Advent boxes are often minimalistic, especially favoring natural décor of moss and lingonberry sprigs. 
Traditionally the candles have come to signify celebrations of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE along with scripture readings or devotionals.
And while not all Swedish people continue to focus on the religious aspect of the Advent tradition, the lighting of Advent candles is still very prevalent. But what remains common is that this tradition is enjoyed with a treat of Lussebullar (also known as Lussekatt), a sweet saffron bun special to the Christmas season, and a glass of Glögg (mulled wine), served with almonds and raisins.
Advent Shines Bright All Month Long!
Another lovely Advent idea comes from the Allen Family on Instagram. Inspired by and following along with @DontMissThisStudy – the Allen family is studying a different name for God with an Advent candle EACH day! What better way is there to remember the joy of celebrating CHRISTmas than by better acquainting yourself with the King of kings?!
St. Lucia Day – Festival Of Lights
Perhaps most notable of Swedish Christmas traditions is that of St. Lucia Day, which is celebrated on December 13.
St. Lucia Day remembers Lucia (🔉Loo-See-Ah), an Italian martyr whose loving deeds became a symbol of light amidst the darkness, thus making this celebration a “Festival Of Lights.” Lucia of Syracuse is remembered for wearing a candle-lit wreath upon her head so that her hands would be free to carry food to the Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs.
On December 13, the eldest daughter in the home has the honor of representing St. Lucia. She dresses in a long white gown with a red ribbon sash and dons a candle-lit wreath crown upon her head (now commonly battery operated) as she serves the family traditional Lussebullar, Pepparkakor (gingerbread) and coffee.
DIY St. Lucia Day Crown
While you can certainly find a proper St. Lucia Crown online, we have a convenient and comfortable version that also makes a kid-friendly craft!
- FREE PDF TEMPLATE*, print 3 copies
- Glue stick or tape or both
- Red pom-pom berries, optional
*A Note On The Template:
The template includes one holly strip and four candles. Candles are each marked F (front) and B (back) so you can make them double-sided. This reduces the number of candles each template produces from four to two. This template also includes three additional holly pieces that you can cut out to add a 3-dimensional effect along the holly strip.
Consider these templates our Christmas present to you – free for your personal and non-profit use only. You may not sell an item made from this pattern or art or modify and redistribute Bronner’s templates or art without express permission.
St. Lucia Day Friends
But St. Lucia Day is not just celebrated at home. The tradition carries over to churches, schools and communities. In similar fashion, other young girls dress in white gowns with a wreath upon their head and candles in hand. Boys, known as stjärngossar (star boys) also dress in white with pointed hats with stars on them. You’ll also find children dressed as tomtenissar (Santa’s elves), carrying lanterns, and yet others dressed as cute little gingerbread men.
Original Swedish Brass Angel Chime, “änglaspel“
Were you wondering about that lovely little brass chime beside Anna’s adorable stjärngossar?!
Another cozy Swedish candlelit Christmas Tradition you’ll find are the harmonious änglaspel. Heat from four mini white taper candles moves cherubs in a synchronized “dance” and chimes delicately ring as the angels move past the bells. Bronner’s carries this divine decoration, which has also been enjoyed in the US for over a century, from the original angel chimes company! Their authentic 1948 Swedish-designed angel chime is sure to delight the young and young at heart with nostalgic charm. (Find Brass Angel Chimes with candles, 1177678)
Julstjärna – Christmas Stars
A starry night sky makes the long nights beautiful, no doubt. Likewise, the Swedish Christmas tradition of hanging Julstjärna brings the beauty of nature inside! It is popular to hang these paper-cut stars in windows, illuminated with a string of Christmas lights. (Opt for battery-operated for ease!) However it’s not just in the windows you’ll see these starry “reflections” of the night sky, Julstjärna are an artform and they hang just about EVERYWHERE … with care!
DIY Julstjärna Paper Star Idea
A search for Julstjärna on Instagram reveals that there are about as infinite a number of possibilities as stars in the sky when it comes to this Swedish Christmas décor! We’re sharing just one fun way to create your own (recyclable) star for this Christmas that the kids can help make!
- 7 paper lunch bags, yields 1 star
- Hot glue (or a strong glue stick)
- Battery-operated lights, optional
Glue 7 paper lunch bags together with a T-shape of glue running horizontally at the base and vertically up the center to the opening.
Cut a V-shape on the open-ended side to create the star points.
Next, cut a triangle wedge or any pattern you’d like from each side.
Pull the top bag around to the bottom bag and seal them together with glue to create an accordion- fold styled star.
Add string for hanging, and wrap with lights for a de-LIGHT-ful appeal! (Using the paper bags creates “pockets” which is great for hiding a small battery pack.)
This Christmas is sure to be MERRY & BRIGHT with these cozy, candlelit Christmas traditions, or should we say …
Christmas Traditions & Travels
Loved these Christmas-tradition ideas from Sweden? You may wish to check out our post on other Family Christmas Traditions.
Likewise, if you enjoyed this look abroad, check out even more posts from AROUND THE WORLD!
 “Advent Calendars.” Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum – https://www.weihnachtsmuseum.de/en/die-ausstellung/advent/adventskalender/
 “Season of Light.” Nordstjernan – http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/traditions/670/