Traditions are meant to be kept – or?

Christmas is drawing near. And so is the Christmas smorgasbord – perhaps the most tradition-bound dinner a Swede eat in a year. But something happens. What was a must a few years ago, isn’t so obvious anymore, and new dishes are popping up among the traditional ones. In this column, Frida Westergård is reshuffle the dishes on the Christmas smorgasbord.

13 December 2019 •

Christmas is com­ing. All I want is to let myself be lulled into Christmas spir­it. In my mind, I see myself bak­ing saf­fron buns, mak­ing tof­fee, light­ing can­dles, and final­ly learn­ing my par­ents’ recipe for cured salmon. But a new age is coming.

The rushing time

The ambi­tions for Christmas are high. Then some­thing hap­pens. December is com­ing and the Advent Sunday. Oh, the freez­er should be full of saf­fron buns, but there are only peas, and the mush­rooms I picked last year.

Second Sunday in Advent. Glögg-fika. Christmas party.

Third Sunday in Advent. It gets urgent to fix the buns.

Fourth Sunday in Advent. Forgot buy­ing saffron.

Christmas Eve. There are no buns this year either.

The dis­ap­point­ment could have been total, but I just feel relief.

The (not so anymore) traditional food feast

For many, Christmas is the most tra­di­tion-bound food feast. So also in my home. There should be the pota­to dish Jansson’s Temptation, a dozen dif­fer­ent sorts of pick­led her­ring, and of course, my par­ents’ cured salmon. At a quick glance, one would think that noth­ing has changed dur­ing my life­time – that is with the Christmas smorgasbord.

But even in my home, in our fam­i­ly with strong Christmas tra­di­tions, there has been a shift. It start­ed when dad pop­ping a green sal­ad between the pota­to and the meat­balls. The fol­low­ing year, anoth­er fresh sal­ad (tip: kale, orange and pome­gran­ate) would fit on the over­crowd­ed table. And so it has continued.

Who real­ly eats the sausage prin­sko­rv? Get rid of it! And yet anoth­er sal­ad (cab­bage again) pushed out two sorts of pick­led herrings.

Greener and more quality

In some ways, it feels right to re-lay the Christmas table. Apparently, we are not alone.

According to a study by The Swedish Food Federation, more and more Swedes are reshap­ing their Christmas smor­gas­bord: Younger ones want to eat green­stuff. Most want to eat less meat. And if the tra­di­tion­al baked Christmas ham stays, it must be of good quality.

The Christmas smor­gas­bord is becom­ing a nice mix of tra­di­tion and renew­al. One adds and sub­tracts, so every­one gets what they want.

That’s why I am relieved when I real­ize that I have no saf­fron buns to offer. Me – who love Christmas! I’m involved in cre­at­ing a new Christmas smor­gas­bord. And no dry saf­fron buns are need­ed on it.

The winds of change

I am glad that the winds of change are allowed to blow all the way into the kitchen on the Christmas Eve itself. Why would Christmas be pro­tect­ed when noth­ing else escapes the par­a­digm shift tak­ing place in the food world.

We Swedes are a can­dy-lov­ing peo­ple, who eat 15 kilos of choco­late and can­dy per per­son and year. But even Christmas sweets are start­ing to change. And that is a good thing in sev­er­al ways.

What is real­ly impor­tant? Should Christmas tra­di­tions be upheld ad absur­dum? Or should every­thing old be thrown out for the new and hot? If you ask me, I say you should both uphold and change tra­di­tions. There are no musts, but keep what makes you hap­py. And who says that the new and the old can­not go hand in hand?

The experience is what counts

The seren­i­ty of Christmas is pri­mar­i­ly not about what you do, but more so about what you expe­ri­ence. And obvi­ous­ly, it’s not only me who has such long­ing. A study made by MasterCard shows that the Christmas present of the year is an expe­ri­ence. People want to social­ize, enjoy time togeth­er and indulge themselves.

We cre­ate new tra­di­tions, and we redo old ones. The new dish­es we, in my fam­i­ly, put on the table are timely.

How about the saf­fron buns? Well, they may show up on next year’s Christmas smor­gas­bord. As an expe­ri­ence – new and old at the same time.

Please, share this article if you liked it.

Similar articles

Right now we have no more articles on the subject.