The Nordic way of celebrating Christmas

in partnership with Balsam Hill

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year and a lot of our current Christmas traditions are from my Nordic childhood. I grew up on an old farm with my parents and two brothers. We often still go back to my parents to experience that real Nordic Christmas, and I love all the old familiar routines and traditions. But we also wanted to give our children some new memories by staying at home for Christmas in the UK. I’m also hoping that in the near future we can start spending Christmas at our own cottage!

I’ve never owned an artificial Christmas tree before, but I love my new Balsam Hill Vermont white spruce tree! It’s pre-lit with warm led lighting and is easy and quick to set up. It also came with a storage bag which will make it easier to store when Christmas is over. The woven tree collar finishes the tree beautifully. I love wreaths, and prefer them undecorated, the Vermont white spruce wreath matches the tree and is also pre-lit.

Christmas tree and wreath
Christmas wreath
cosy christmas setting

My childhood Nordic Christmas

Our countdown for Christmas always started on the 1st December. My mum made the 3 of us homemade advent calendars using 24 empty matchboxes glued on an A3-size piece of cardboard. The matchboxes were covered with cutouts from old Christmas cards and were all different. Every morning, as soon as we woke up we opened the first boxes and had our sweets before breakfast!

The 1st December was also significant as it was when the outdoor and indoor lights came out, and the Christmas cassettes (do you remember them!?!) so we could listen to our classic Christmas carols and hymns. And although my family isn’t religious, we always had the advent candles during the four Sundays before Christmas, with one candle lit each Sunday.

festive living room
beautiful christmas decor

There is a beautiful little wood surrounding my parents farm. Our family tradition was to go and choose one of the spruces for our Christmas tree on the 23rd December. My dad would then cut it down (with one of his many chainsaws!) and we would then bring it back to one of our barns to be stored overnight. But the tree wasn’t brought inside the house until the morning of Christmas eve. 

Christmas eve is the main day of Christmas in Nordic countries. My brothers and I always woke up early, decorated the Christmas tree, watched some festive cartoons from TV (there wasn’t much on the TV when I was growing up so daytime TV felt like a big treat!) and then go outside to play in the snow. Most of the day was spent anxiously waiting for the evening and present time! Lunch was always rice pudding and afterwards we would visit the local village graveyard to light candles.

My new decorations from Balsam Hill

The new decorations I chose from Balsam Hill remind me what we used to have in my childhood. Like these lovely pine cones and tree topper star. My grandparents used to have these beautiful and delicate sparkling Christmas baubles that were off-limits for me and my brothers (but we couldn’t help ourselves and touched them anyway) and the gold bauble set and French bauble set from Balsam Hill really remind me of them.

Nordic Christmas dinner

After the traditional Christmas Sauna, we would have our Christmas dinner. Lots of different kind of cured and smoked fish (my dad is a keen fisherman) and fish roe, vegetable casseroles, ham, various cheeses and lingonberry jam. My parents always insisted us taking our time, even if us kids would have preferred to eat super quickly to get to our favourite part – Father Christmas’ arrival.

On some years, Father Christmas had time to pop in and hand the presents out to us. But when we got older, he usually just left the present sack behind our front door.

photo from My Scandinavian Home

We spend rest of the evening playing with the new toys and board games, reading books and eating a lot of chocolate. On Christmas day we always walked to an outdoor ice skating ring that was close by and skated for hours with our friends. That was also the day when we visited relatives. 

You can find more about how to create Scandi Christmas over here!

photo from @houseofharvest
source unknown
photo via Glamour Germany

About

I'm Susanna, the editor of SHnordic. I post about interiors, style picks & beauty finds, and I hope you will find something that you'll love on my shop my style page! Please note that my blog also features some affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage per click at no extra cost to you.

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