A traditional Swedish Christmas is not complete without julbord, a holiday variation of the quintessential Smörgåsbord buffet-style meal in Sweden.
A traditional Christmas in Sweden is not complete without the traditional julbord, a holiday variation of the quintessential Smörgåsbord buffet-style meal in the Scandinavian country.
Smörgåsbord is a large feast that includes multiple staples of Swedish cuisine served on the table; julbord, literally translating into “Christmas table,” is that but with a Yuletide twist. The actual Christmas season in Sweden usually begins with the St. Lucia ceremony, around the 13th of December, and leads all the way to Christmas day; the julbord is often had on the penultimate night, Julafton (Christmas Eve).
Julbord is a dear tradition for many Swedes, and many may have altered the exact customs to suit their family’s needs; even so, the feast has several staples which are quite common no matter the family celebrating it. The meal is typically served in three courses (and a dessert course if it can be handled), each with foods that pair well with each other, as well as being separated by temperature and protein.
Below are some of the foods that may be associated with each course (click on each thumbnail for full caption & explanation):
The first course typically revolves around fish, particularly the ubiquitous pickled herring and raw, spiced salmon (gravad lax, or gravlax), accompanied by strong spirits that are often spiced. Many of these items are served as a canapé or hors d’œuvre, in small, bite-sized chunks.
The first two courses of julbord are seemingly but appetizers when one finally comes to the third course, which traditionally consists of warm dishes of larger portions. Heated meat dishes, such as the quintessential Swedish meatballs, are paired here with heavier sides such as potatoes and casseroles.
Christian Eilers is a travel and career advice writer who constantly loves to learn about the world through traveling, cultural stories, reading, and education. A native of New York City, when he is not traveling, he can find an abundance of cultural influences right in his own city, enough to keep him satisfied until the next country's beckon cannot be ignored any longer.