Swedish Christmas traditions part 1

We are approaching Christmas preparations needs to be done. One thing is the Christmas porridge, rice pudding, this is good to warm during the cold spells but is also essential as this is what Santa Clause eats. In old folklore santa or gnomes are usual but perhaps not as the Santa Claus we know today. The gnomes were small being living in the forest or on farms. It was important to to keep them happy as then they would help you, one important thing was to give them food. As the tradition with Santa Claus grew more popular a little more than a 100 years back these traditions continued through the the new legend. In Sweden much of our imagery of Santa comes from Viktor Rydberg’s (1828-1895) poem Tomten (the Gnome or Santa) from 1881, though this is more about the old ways than Santa Claus and the pictures of Jenny Nyström (1854-1946):

Ill. Harald Wiberg
Ill. Harald Wiberg

Tomten vers 1

Midvinternattens köld är hård,
stjärnorna gnistra och glimma.
Alla sova i enslig gård
djupt under midnattstimma.
Månen vandrar sin tysta ban,
snön lyser vit på fur och gran,
snön lyser vit på taken.
Endast tomten är vaken.

A Santa by Jenny Nyström
A Santa by Jenny Nyström

I haven’t found a translation so I’ve translated the first verse (The whole poem, illustrated is available here in Swedish).

I haven’t found a translation so I’ve translated the first verse
Harsh is the cold of Midwinter’s night,
the stars sparkle and gleam.
All are sleeping at the lonely farm
deep during this midnight hour.
The Moon wanders its silent way,
the snow shines white on pine and spruce,
the snow lights white upon the roofs.
Only Santa is awake.


This is how I make my Christmas porridge, ca 8-10 portions

  • Rice pudding (8-10.)
  • Boil 5 dl of porridge rice (round grain rice)
  • 1.2 liter water
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 l old fashioned milk (ca 3-5% fat)
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-6 tbsp sugar

Pour the water in an oven-proof pot with cold water, pourhe rice, add the butter and salt and let it cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Then add the milk and cinnamon sticks, stir and warm it so it just starts to boil and place the pan with a lid in the oven, at ca 125 degrees Celsius for about one hour- one hour and twenty minutes, stir occasionally and keep an eye on it just is simmering. Finally, sweet the porridge with some sugar – let it cool and reheat before serving – with milk cinnamon and sugar.


Magnus Reuterdahl


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s