The Julbord is probably one of the most important parts of Christmas in Sweden. Rather than eating this feast on Christmas Day, it is actually eaten on Christmas Eve. As the main meal is eaten on Christmas Eve, there are other events that pace that on this day which shows the Swedes celebrate Christmas more on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day.

What is a Julbord?


"Julbord." Photo. 23 Dec. 2013. 26 Nov. 2015 <>.

A Julbord is a special type of smörgäsbord that is a Christmas tradition and literally translated to "Christmas table."[1][2] There is an abundance of food and resembles a buffet. Traditionally, it is eaten in three courses, the first course consisting of fishes, the second course has cold sliced meats, and the third course has warm dishes.[3] Sometimes dessert is included as well.

The "julbord" season begins early December, and ends with the biggest feast on December 24th.[4] On Christmas Eve, the julbord is generally eaten with the family. On weekends in December, the julbord can be eaten with friends, and during the work week, coworkers can eat it together at Christmas parties.[5]

Christmas Eve, The REAL Main Event

Kalle Anka

At 3PM, every Christmas Eve since 1959, half of Sweden sits down and watches an hour long[6] Christmas special without commercial interruption called, "Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul" or in English, "Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas.[7][8]



Santa's Workshop. One of the shorts shown every year.

The special remains relatively the same every, with the same line up every year of Disney cartoons from the 1930s through the 1960s. The only thing that changes, is that it is hosted live every year, the same way Walt Disney did it[8], and the addition of a new piece from the latest Disney movie.[7] And if there is a significant change, like a "threat" to discontinue the program, or one of the tradition shorts being replaced, or even the host wanting to pre-record the hosting segments[8], the public's backlash has been "swift and fierce."[7]


The main meal, the julbord is eaten Christmas Eve. It is a buffet with many foods and three courses.[9]

First Course

The first course traditionally consists of fishes, especially herring, eel, salmon, and shellfish.[2][4] It is common for certain foods to be paired together when eaten, like pickled herring with boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs. Salmon, eel, and shellfish would be accompanied by sauces and dips.[3]

Second Course

The second course traditionally consists of cold sliced meats, like the Christmas ham, homemade sausages, sometimes roast beef and turkey are served as well.[3][4] These meats are often served with sliced cheese, pickled cucumbers, and bread.[3]

Third Course

The third course traditionally consists of hot foods, like Swedish meatballs, boiled potatoes, roasted pork ribs, and a warm potato casserole. But this course traditionally began with soaking some bread in the stock from the Christmas ham, however, it is not practiced so much today.[3]


Sometimes, after the julbord, there might be a porridge made of rice-grains and milk. This is eaten with raspberry jam, or sprinkled with cinnamon.[4][9] This porridge is also known as "risgryngrot" and has a special little tradition. There is an almond hidden in it, and whoever finds the almond will marry within a year.[10]

The dessert might even be some gingersnaps and home made sweets.

Exchanging Presents

Christmas gifts are usually exchanged Christmas Eve, usually after dinner. A friend or family member dresses up as the jultomte. (See this for some info on the jultomte). The person who dresses as the jultomte dresses in a red robe, a white beard, and usually hides their face when they distribute the gifts.[10]


  1. "Celebrate the Season with IKEA Swedish 'Julbord' Buffet Extravaganza for Only $12.99 ($9.99 for IKEA FAMILY Members) - IKEA." IKEA US/EN. 14 Nov. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Smörgåsbord." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. <örgåsbord>.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Jul (Sweden)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Swedish Christmas Julbord Food Recipes." - Food,recipes and Cuisine from the Scandinavian Countries. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <>.
  5. "Swedish Julbord." Swedish Julbord. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <>.
  6. "From All of Us to All of You." IMDb. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <>.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Stahl, Jeremy. "Sweden's Bizarre Tradition of Watching Donald Duck (Kalle Anka) Cartoons on Christmas Eve." 22 Dec. 2009. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <>.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "From All of Us to All of You." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <>.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Christmas in Sweden." Christmas in Sweden. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <>.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Christmas in Sweden: Around the World at Santa's Net." Christmas in Sweden: Around the World at Santa's Net. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <>.