Sweden is a Scandinavian country, the source of over one million immigrants to the United States in the 19th century. Learn about Christmas in Sweden with the customs of St. Lucia’s day, Swedish inspired ornaments, and some graphing.
St. Lucia’s Day, December 13th, is the beginning of Christmas in Sweden. The eldest daughter of a family wears a white dress, and a wreath on her head. She brings coffee and special buns to her parents. Swedish schools have a St. Lucia procession with one or more girls wearing a wreath with candles, while the other girls wear unlighted wreathes and the boys wear star-decked paper cones. Make St. Lucia hats and have yourself a procession.
- Download a paper doll.
- A pattern for a St. Lucia wreath from paper and a paper plate.
- A recipe for St. Lucia buns. This particular recipe has a lot of numbers, both imperial and metric, for math work.
- Blogger Nest Full of Eggs shows another way to make the wreath, St. Lucia buns made from clay, and photos from a public St. Lucia program.
- Astrid Lingren’s Christmas in Noisy Village is a romp of a book about life in rural Sweden.
- God Jule: A Swedish Christmas has lots of information and illustrations.
- The Tomten, also by Astrid Lingren, tells the story of Sweden’s Christmas Trolls. Compare with Jan Brett’s Norwegian-inspired Christmas Trolls.
- Kirsten’s Surprise, from the popular American Girls series, features the custom of the St. Lucia wreath in the context of the Swedish American immigrant community.
Christmas trees in Sweden are decorated with Swedish flags, red hearts, and decorations traditionally made from straw. Classic shapes are the Julbok, hearts, angels, and stars. We’ve made these, and we can tell you that it’s harder than it looks.
An alternative for the classroom is to create simple stars from kraft sticks and Glue Dots. Begin with a glue dot in the center of one kraft stick, and place another stick at right angles to it. Add two more sticks in the same way. Place another glue dot and use it to anchor a length of string. Red is traditional for a Swedish Christmas. Weave the string over and under the sticks, finishing by anchoring the end in the glue dot. Place one more glue dot at the end of a stick and create a loop for the tree, or to hang the stars from the ceiling.
Christmas Eve is a day of celebration, with a feast called the Julbord which includes ham, cabbage dishes, fish, cheese, beet salad, sausages, and gingerbread.
A surprising custom is the watching of Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) in a Christmas TV special which has been shown every year at the same time on Christmas Eve since 1959. 50% of Swedish TVs tune in. Your students may have TV Christmas specials they like to watch each year, too. Do some graphing to discover the class favorite.
Learn about more Christmas Customs with our Christmas Around the World Lesson Plans collection.