On the morning of December 13th, young Swedish girls put a crown of candles in their hair, and go to wake their families with fresh coffee, newly baked saffron buns and gingerbread, singing songs about the darkness of winter and the light that will soon return. This is Lucia, a typical Swedish tradition. On that same morning, every school in the country starts the day with the same type of celebration to mark the coming of Christmas. If you are visiting Sweden on this day, there are Lucia celebrations in most churches, where you can see this traditional procession and get a feeling for what Swedish Christmas is like.
The world’s first icehotel is situated in Jukkasjärvi, 17 km from Kiruna. This magnificent hotel is made entirely of snow and ice, taken from the Torne River. Even the beds and the glasses are made of ice and you sleep on reindeer skin in sleeping beds that keep you warm even though the temperature around you is around -8 °C. This Icehotel only exists between December and April and is rebuilt each year, the hotel growing a little more each month. Staying at the Icehotel is an unforgettable experience.
If you visit Scandinavia in December you should definitely spend at least one Sunday visiting one of the many Christmas markets. Outdoor stalls sell glögg, the spicy warm wine that is so typical of Swedish Christmas, Christmas decorations, sweets, raindeer meat and smoked salmon. The biggest Christmas market takes place at Liseberg, the amusement park in Gothenburg, where you can combine strolling around the market stalls with a ride on the carousels. In Stockholm, the most famous market is that of Skansen, the open air museum situated in Djurgården.