Maha Nasser: How did some Christmas rituals come to Sweden?
Many people in Sweden love to see snow fall on Christmas Eve. Snowfall is part of the festive atmosphere at Christmas in Sweden. Some may be optimistic about seeing snow fall on Christmas Eve. For many, the joyful atmosphere of Christmas lights up and warms the dark nights of winter. But it is not the fall of snow alone that makes this occasion special, but the ceremonial rituals and customs that are practiced in the Christmas celebration, which make this occasion unique and worth waiting for and preparing for.
Sweden celebrates Christmas on the 24th of December. Also, this celebration is an old tradition that dates back to the 11th century AD, when people were celebrating at that time the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, in addition to their celebration of the middle of winter. There are stories that mentioned that people were celebrating before the arrival of Christianity in Sweden, and the purpose of the celebration was to break the loneliness of the winter’s darkness and warm its cold nights, and bring joy and pleasure to the hearts of the people. Until the ancient customs mixed with the rituals that the Christian religion brought to form the customs and rituals of celebrating birthdays that people practice today. There are many rituals and customs that we practice on holidays and occasions, but we often do not know their source and from where these rituals came to become an important part of our festive habits. One of the beautiful and distinctive customs in the Christmas celebrations is decorating the streets and markets with Christmas decorations, lighting houses with candles, and hanging bright stars on the windows. In addition to owning a Christmas tree, which is installed in the sitting rooms in every house and is fully decorated and lit. Where the small, shiny stars hang on it and various types of decoration, each according to his taste. The Christmas tree is also erected in important and vital places in cities and shopping centers to give a special character and a special festive feeling. The Christmas tree is a symbol of Christmas, and it is an important tradition in Christmas celebrations, but where did this tradition come to Sweden? It was said that the custom of the Christmas tree arrived in Sweden from Germany in the nineteenth century. The first Christmas tree in Sweden was decorated with candles, holiday sweets and fruits, and then these decorations were replaced with decorations for each family made of paper and straw. Then Christmas tree decorations became available in stores in major Swedish cities in the 1880s, as they were imported from Germany.
Another of the customs that is practiced on Christmas also is the habit of exchanging gifts between family, loved ones, relatives and friends. In fact, I love this custom very much and consider it special, as this custom distinguishes Christmas from other holidays and celebrations that resist other countries. According to the stories, the custom of exchanging gifts in Sweden is an old habit among the Swedes even before the celebration of Christmas. Where farmers used to give each other home-baked cakes, antiques and handmade candles. In talking about gifts, we will talk about another important symbol of Christmas, which is the story of Santa Claus, who is Santa Claus and why is he considered a symbol and an important part of Christmas rituals? Santa Claus is known in Sweden as "Tomten" is the old man who has to climb the roofs of houses Christmas Eve to give gifts to children. According to the stories, Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, who was born in the year 270, in the city of Petara, in the province of Antalya, which belonged to the Asian part of the Roman Empire, to a rich Christian Greek family. Where Saint Nicholas lived when he was eight years old in an orphanage due to the death of his parents from the plague disease, and when he grew up he inherited a huge fortune from his parents, but he loved the life of simplicity very much. And Nicholas decided to spend that wealth on helping the poor, and he used to go at night to distribute money and gifts to the poor without people knowing who was helping them. But with the passage of time, the whole town knew about the personality of the man who used to help them and give them gifts and money for them. With time, Santa Claus became a symbol of goodness and giving. However, some writers mentioned that the story of the Swedish "Tomten" differs from the story of Santa Claus, and that "Tomten" is not the same as the famous Santa Claus. It was said that the story of "Tomten" is a pre-Christian story of Dutch origins, and he is a dwarf who lived on a farm and was taking care of the farmer's family while they slept, and that Tomten was generous and gave gifts if the people of the farm dealt with him nicely. Tomten is also a symbol of the ancestral spirit that roams around us and protects us. They also mentioned that the confusion between Santa Claus and Tomten is caused by the combination of local and foreign customs that made Tomten, Santa Claus.
In fact, there are many customs and rituals practiced by people at Christmas in Sweden, which may be local or mixed with foreign traditions. We cannot mention all Christmas traditions in this article, but we can say that most of these customs are not much different from the customs and rituals of Christmas in other countries of the world. It is worth noting that the celebration of Christmas, although the celebration of Christmas is primarily a religious occasion, which is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, now that the celebration of Christmas has become more of a social tradition than a religious occasion.