Something Swedish

The First Advent & A Christmas Market


Yesterday was the start of the longest holiday season: Advent. It was the fourth Sunday from Christmas and it’s a big deal in Sweden.

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Every Swedish family (I would assume) has Advent candles that they light gradually every week, creating a staircase effect. Yesterday we lit the first candle. Most traditional advent candles have an area where moss and decorations can be arranged. Everyday in town square you can find stands selling this moss, along with wreaths, decorations, pine branches, and advent candles:

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Another type of Advent candle that is lit a little bit each day:

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To celebrate the first advent, there was a Christmas market from 2pm-7pm filled with homemade items and foods to buy as Christmas presents.

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Many of the people selling things were wearing Santa caps. Even the horses and hot dog vendors:

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During the Christmas market there were things happening all throughout town. There was caroling and music, horsey rides400042_10151463854640312_657501302_n and face painting for the kids, dancing around the Christmas tree, free gingerbread cookies and glögg, an Advent concert at the church, and the town’s Lucia was crowned. Lucia is a very big holiday here, which I’ll write about in about a week. It was too cold to stick around and see everything that was going on, unfortunately.

Despite the below freezing temperatures (-7°c/20°f) and the night time darkness at 4:30pm (it felt like 9pm), it was the most crowded I’ve seen Halmstad. These two things are also the cause of only a few low quality photos, my fingers were a bit too frostbiten. (See said finger in photo below)

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Traditionally, the first advent was also the day that stores revealed their Christmas window displays and decorations – meaning all the stores in town are open ON A SUNDAY! Nowadays, most of the Christmas decor has already been displayed, but the stores open their doors anyway. It was unbelievable how many people were out shopping yesterday, to the point that it was difficult getting in and out of places, without any special sales – just because it is tradition. (And exotic to shop on a Sunday!)

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This count down to Christmas became popular in the 1930’s in Sweden, without so much emphasis on the religious origin; the “coming” of Christ. Instead it gives the country a reason to celebrate and be festive. Special Advent decorations are in all the windows, advent calendars are opened, candles are lit, and even an annual advent 24-episode kids show is used as a count down to Christmas. By the first Advent, Southern Sweden only has 6-7 hours of daylight, so the extra decorations, lights, candles and festivities are a huge plus for moral. For Northern Sweden, where the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, this time is also a count down to the Winter Solstice on December 21st, when the daytime sunlight will return. “It will soon turn,” is supposed to be a common greeting in Northern Sweden, waiting for the Winter  solstice to come and bring back daylight.

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First/1st: Först/ 1:e

Christmas: Jul

Christmas Market: Julmarknad

Christmas Present: Julklapp

Stores: Butiker/Affärer

To shop: Att handla

To buy: Att köpa

Advent Candles: Adventsljusstake

Decoration: Dekoration

Freezing: Frysning

12 thoughts on “The First Advent & A Christmas Market

  1. Great photos. Yeah, it was chilly yesterday for sure. I agree, it was the most crowded I have ever seen downtown.

  2. Love the pictures! I love seeing Christmas decorations from other countries… My best friend spent some time in France a couple of years ago and showed me her host family’s VERY elaborate nativity decorations on Skype.

    Are those your advent candles in the first picture? I love the decorations!

    • Yep! Those are the Advent candles – I’ll post another photo in two weeks when they have been lit more!
      Nativity sets don’t seem to be a huge deal here, but I’ve seen some beautiful ones!

  3. Your photos make me nostalgic for a snowy, wintery Christmas. I was out shopping in the summer heat the other day and some store was playing “Let It Snow”. Too weird for me. I’m especially jealous of your Swedish Christmas markets. There is nothing like that in Melbourne, though I had been to a few in America and liked them well enough.

    • Yikes, I can’t imagine a warm Christmas! I have a friend from New Zealand and she told us how the Christmas trees are set up outside, sometimes on the beach! If I could send you snow, I would!

      • It is very strange. Especially seeing department store Santas all dressed up in their snowsuits when it is 100 degree outside! I would love to have any snow that you can spare. My last Christmas in America (last year) was snowless, and I was so disappointed not to have a white Christmas before moving to Australia. I’ve always imagined that a Christmas in Sweden or some other country where it gets very cold and snowy must be especially magical. Lucky you!

  4. Love your blog! It is so much fun to read about your experiences and thoughts about sweden! Such great photos aswell! I´m from the north of sweden and for me there is no christmas without LOTS of snow! We get about 3-4 hours of sunlight this time of year and come christmas eve the sun starts setting around 12.30 pm. It´s is still pitch black outside and – 24.9C. It was a bit chilly walking to work this morning ;). I spent a year in Australia and sitting by the pool in a bikini on Chistmas day was just weird:), fun but weird indeed! Just thought i´d write and say what a great job your doing! God jul!

    • Thanks Malin!! How interesting to hear about life up North! I can barely handle 6 hours of daylight, 3-4 and – 24c? I’ll stay down here until Summer! What an experience to go from that to an Australian Christmas! God Jul 😉

  5. I feel like I am living next door to you the way you discribe each and every day of your journey of love are words of joy,love and happiness

  6. You brought back some very distant memories ! When I was a child, I had an advent calender and advent candles, which I totally forgotten about till now. Don’t remember when we stopped doing this ritual. Its a nice ritual glad it is still done today.Thanks Meg and enjoy the holidays!

  7. Pingback: Julbock: The Swedish Christmas Goat | Something Swedish

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