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Jul – Christmas

Celebrate Sankta Lucia in Skansen

Posted in Stockholm E by
Sankta Lucia in Skansen - Solliden

Sankta Lucia is one of my favorite Swedish holidays. When the choir starts Sankta Lucia, I immediately get goosebumps. In recent years I had the pleasure to experience some special Lucia festivities. My first Lucia concert was in the Bosebo church in Kulturen in Lund. Magic! But I will also never forget the morning concert in the hotel. Especially because it was so unexpected and at the same time so authentic. Also Skansen in Stockholm is a fantastic place to celebrate Sankta Lucia. They have been celebrating the light here since 1892.

All high times are true experiences in Skansen and Sankta Lucia is no exception. Skansen celebrates Sankta Lucia for several days. Of course on December 13th, but also often the weekend before or after (depending on what day December 13 falls). For 2021 this will be on December 11, 12 and 13. The nice thing about Sankta Lucia in Skansen is that during the weekend you can combine it with the Christmas market from Skansen. I have very fond memories of the past events in Skansen and look forward to going back every year.

There are several Lucia concerts in Skansen. The concerts in Seglora kyrka and Ordenshuset Brofästet (I didn’t attend the one in this second place myself yet, I hope it works out this year) are for a limited audience and I recommend waiting in line early enough. The concert of Sankta Lucia at Solliden in Skansen is on a large stage (in the same place as where Allsång på Skansen is recorded).

Read more about Sankta Lucia here!

Lucia concert in Seglora kyrka

Sankta Lucia in Skansen - Seglora kyrka

My favorite is the concert in the Seglora church (kyrka in Swedish). This old wooden church from Västergotland dates from 1729 and was moved to Skansen in 1918. During the concert, be sure to look up to the beautiful ceiling paintings. These were painted by the Swedish painter Sven Wernberg (1734–1735).

The doors open 20 minutes before the start of the concert. Everyone took a seat and suddenly it became very quiet. Goosebumps as the choir walked in, with Lucia leading the way. The concert lasted half an hour and the atmosphere in the church was almost magical!

Sankta Lucia on Solliden

I was tipped to stand a bit to the side of the stage when Sankta Lucia is celebrated in Skansen on Solliden. It was a chilly, gray day and the rain was beginning to seep through my coat. Just before that, I had warmed up with some fika and made sure I was back by the podium in time. Suddenly I heard a carriage driving up! The choir and Lucia were driven to the stage in a carriage drawn by horses from the Royal Stables. So nice!

The choir’s voices immediately warmed up the audience. Very nice to see how they celebrate the light. A boost in these dark days and yes, unbelievable but ten days after Sankta Lucia the days are finally getting longer again! The concert lasts about 40 minutes and is a nice end to a day at Skansen in a Christmas atmosphere.

Other Lucia concerts in Skansen

In addition to the above 2 Lucia concerts in Skansen, there is also a Lucia choir in the park. And if you want to know how Sankta Lucia was celebrated a century ago, you can visit Ordenshuset Brofästet in Skansen. Here too, the doors open 20 minutes before the start of the concert. The exact times of the concerts and celebrations can be found on the Skansen website.

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Sankta Lucia in Skansen - Seglora kyrka
Sankta Lucia in Skansen - Solliden
16 November 2021

Novent, a new Swedish Christmas trend

Posted in Something Swedish by
Novent, smygstarta jul

Combine November and Advent and you have Novent, a new trend in Sweden that I would like to soon conquer the rest of the world! Novent means that in November you will gradually start to bring Christmas atmosphere into your home. Think of extra candles, lights,… and if you want some Christmas decorations.

November feels like the saddest month of the year. The days are getting shorter, the autumn colors are disappearing and it is still waiting for the Christmas lights in the streets. Who says we can’t enjoy the most wonderful time of the year already in november?

Smygstarta julen

I think ‘smygstarta julen‘ is one of the nicest phrases in Swedish. Sometimes you also read ‘att tjuvstarta julen‘ It means as much as secretly starting Christmas. Looking forward to something is often half the experience. Once we have switched to winter time, I want to make it extra cozy at home. I’m really counting the days till Christmas. For the Christmas fun, but also because the days after that are gradually starting to get longer.

What is novent to me?

Celebrating Novent makes the darkest, grayest month of the year just that little bit more pleasant. For me, Novent means that I light some candles more often, that I take the time to bake some more (a house that smells like pepparkakor is Christmas at its best!), that I take out my Christmas mugs,… During November I also put the Christmas playlist on and I might watch a Christmas movie. It even itches to craft some Christmas decorations! And oh, julmust is really part of it for me. Cozy Christmas without it all becoming too ‘Christmassy’.

During the holidays we often have a lot of ‘obligations’. As fun as these are, the days fly by with family visits and Christmas dinners. You wouldn’t be the first to feel ‘Christmas stress’! Nothing has to be done during novent and maybe that is why it is becoming so popular. You can just enjoy it.

The tip for a perfect novent for me is dosage. Keep it subtle. Do it little by little. Dose and don’t go jingles all the way so that, even as a Christmas fan, you’re not tired of Christmas by December 24th. For me, novent is also thinking about the Christmas menu and possibly trying something in advance, thinking about gifts and buying Christmas cards. During novent you do it because you want to, not because you have to.

The origin of ‘novent’

It was the Swedish Olsson family who invented the word novent in 2014. They counted 3 extra Sundays before the start of Advent. Week 4 of Novent is celebrated together with the beginning of Advent. It was a way for them to enjoy Christmas longer. In the meantime, novent has also been recognized as a new Swedish word.

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15 November 2021

Recipe homemade Swedish ‘julmust’

Posted in Swedish Food by

Never heard of julmust? If you’ve already been to Sweden around Christmas or Easter, or had a close look in the foodmarket at Ikea, it will ring a bell. Julmust is a soft drink that is very popular in Sweden around Christmas. In December the sales of julmust even exceed those of coca-cola! The Swedes drink about 40 million liters of julmust every year. Yes, that is an average of about 4 liters per Swede! With the recipe below you can serve homemade julmust during your Swedish julbord.

The origin of julmust


The original recipe for julmust comes from Robert and Harry Roberts. It was originally intended as a non-alcoholic variation on the Christmas beer, julöl. Father and son invented the drink at the beginning of the 20th century in Örebro. To this day they are the only makers of the syrup for the julmust. Bottling is now done by various companies.

Recipe for homemade julmust

Because it’s so hard to get in Belgium (I don’t go to Ikea very often now), I experimented with a Swedish recipe for julmust (from In Sweden it is only available around Christmas (and around Easter but with a different label).

It is not really difficult to make your own julmust, but it does take some work. Don’t be put off by the fact that you have to make a ‘soda start’ first. That ‘soda start’ is a bit like the mother dough for a sourdough bread. You can continue to cultivate the soda start by adding a teaspoon of grated ginger and a teaspoon of cane sugar every other day.

I have to admit, some ingredients are not so easy to find in the stores and I brought them from the ICA in Sweden.

How do you make the ‘sodastart’ for your julmust?

You need a jar/bottle of about 4 liters. Make sure it is very clean before you start the whole adventure. You will also need a thin kitchen towel and a sturdy elastic that goes around the opening of your jar/bottle to keep the towel in place.

Put half a liter of water together with 2 tablespoons of finely grated ginger, a tablespoon of cane sugar and 1.5 tablespoons of fine sugar in the jar. Mix well. Cover your jar with the towel and close with the elastic. This way the sodastart can ‘breathe’. Stir this mixture well twice a day and leave it in a fairly warm place for 4 to 6 days. As soon as you hear bubbles and/or see bubbles while stirring, your soda start is ready. We are almost half way through the recipe for julmust. Or almost, haha.

Ingredients julmust

  • 1 dl raisins
  • 3 dried figs
  • 3 to 4 plums
  • 1 dl ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 dl dried juniper berries lightly ground in the mortar
  • 2 pomeransskal (e.g. from Sancta Maria)
  • 2 muskotblomma (also from Sancta Maria – note: this is not nutmeg!)
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods (also from Sancta Maria)
  • 2 star anise
  • 4-5 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons citric acid (I bought it at the health food store)
  • 1 + 2.5 l water
  • 400 g dark raw sugar
  • 2 dl soda start (recipe above)

Preparation homemade julmust

  1. Mix the fruit, herbs, citric acid and 1 liter of water in a pot and let it boil for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the sugar and let it melt. Remove the pan from the heat and add another 2.5 liters of water.
  3. Put a lid on your pot and let it sit for about 12 hours.
  4. Get 2 dl of your sodastart through a sieve and mix with the above mixture.
  5. This should now be left at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, covered with a kitchen towel.
  6. If you hear a fizzing sound when you move the mixture, your jul must is ready.
  7. Pour the julmust into well-cleaned glass bottles.
  8. Let the bottles stand at room temperature for 1-2 days.
  9. Then place the bottles in the refrigerator to to stop fermentation. You can store the julmust for up to 4 weeks.

If you keep ‘feeding’ your sodastart, you can make this recipe for julmus over and over again.

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Recipe Swedish julmust - christmas soda
7 November 2021