Month: December 2017

Welcoming the Swedish Winters – By Kanishk Kumar

Coming from the part of the world where it gets close to 45°C in summers and 12°C in winters, this past month was a bit annoying at first but then I experienced snowfall for the first time in my life and I fell in love.

Darkness is engulfing the country as we approach this time of the year with barely 6 hours of light. As bad as it may sound, everywhere you go, streets and parks are all glowing with lights.

Normally I am kind of a tropic person, 35°C is not a problem with me but as for some people it is unpleasant sun. Winters however, is a totally different story for me. Morning 8 am classes proved to be a pain but soon I found myself welcoming the cold. From the time I have been here which is not long enough, I have heard this expression countless times:

“det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder”
(there is no bad weather, only bad clothes)

So, I stuffed myself in overcoats and jackets and I was surprised how well I could deal with the weather now.  Sometimes when you roam around during this time of the year, you could witness the light reflecting from the ice crystals on the streets and combine them with a clear sky, it is surreal. These magnificent moments you witness from your eyes makes you happy even in the darkest hours.

In front of stora torget, Uppsala

Swedish people love talking about the weather whenever you meet. Expressions likeVad är det för väder? (What is the weather like?), Vilket väder! (What weather we are having!) always comes in handy.

In this cheek-biting cold, there are some things which everyone should keep in their minds:

  1. Dressing properly.
    From looking good to being warm, this is the first thing a person should keep in his mind.
  2. Being social.
    As the dark winters are here, this is the best way to fight it. Spending time with friends and enjoying Fika, going for drinks and parties definitely helps.
  3. Walking in the sun.
    You might not want to miss the only thing which is hard to find these days. This is a better medicine than the Vitamin-D tablets you must be wondering about. A daily walk whenever you find the light is the best.
  4. Embracing the situation.
    Put your warm clothes on and just go out. You might stumble upon something that you might cherish for the rest of your lives: The Northern Lights.

A view from Gamla Uppsala

I can finally strike that off my bucket list.

  1. Take advantage of the snow.
    Skiing, skating, walking in the woods are some of the perks that you will get in this time of the year and take my word, you don’t want to miss it.

Christmas Tree in front of St:Per Gallerian

By the time you feel bored after doing everything, it will be Christmas. Nothing is quite as delightful as Christmas in Sweden and you can feel the festive spirit everywhere. The birthplace of cinnamon rolls and if you haven’t tried a true knelbullar, you are missing out on something great. From making the best hot chocolate to the winter treats and anything in general, Swedes are the best. Being a foodie, this country is like a heaven for me.

Stockholm – The Venice of the North, always looks good but during this time of the year its even more beautiful with snow falling on the streets as you walk around in the narrow streets of Gamla Stan. From late November, the Christmas markets are all set and waiting for you.
There are also heavy discounts on the stores and this might be the best time to buy clothes.

For more information on how to celebrate Christmas like a Swede, take a look at this:
How To Celebrate Christmas Like a Swede

As December arrives, you can get to see restaurants all across the country attracting people towards their ‘Julbord’ which means Yule or a Christmas Table. The tables are stocked with Christmas food. This traditional Christmas dinner is something that you might now want to miss if you are not having a Christmas eve celebration at home or if you’re a student like me away from home.
Last week, I was at the grocery store buying some things for dinner and I saw this stock of unusual drinks lying there. Further investigation led to me finding out that it’s a Christmas drink which is only sold during this time of the year. I had to try and so I took one and it tastes like a fizzy root beer. I was amazed to find out that this drink beats everything in sales when it arrives, even the classic Coca-Cola.

Julmust – a Christmas drink

Coming from a place without proper winters, never knew what snow really felt like and how great it could be with a cup of coffee and sitting in front of my window and watch it fall and change everything. When I moved to Uppsala, I remember eagerly waiting for it. Now it’s here I have no words to explain how beautiful it is. Maybe it is the best time to fall in love with winters, anything that happens now will be well worth it and eventually the spring will arrive but it will be a perfect story to tell my grandkids when I get old.

Because, why not?!


Supermarkets: Where To Go – By Adolfo Canales

Hello again everyone, this time I wanna talk to you about one of the common things here in Uppsala if you are a foreign student, doing grocery.

There is a big debate about which supermarket have the best prices, and of corse when you are an international student you try to save as much money in grocery to spend it in beer at the nations, at least from my experience jajaja.

If you are a one of our faithful readers in #taggedforuppsala, then you know that the coolest neighborhood in Uppsala is Kantorsgatan, or Kantors for the homies. And it happens that is the place where I live, and this place happens to be relatively close to the two supermarkets with the best prices and good quality in my own personal experience, so let me tell you about this places.

When I first arrived to Uppsala I was told that Willys was the shop to be if you wanted to get the best prices, so I went there to do my first grocery, the walk from Kantorsgatan is a 20-25 minutes walk, if you want to take a bus to get there, you might do more time, so the best options it to walk.  Once you arrive to Willys you will see that is very crowded, and a lot of people is going in and out, the supermarket is relatively big, and the prices are not that good,  they do have very good promotions, but if you can’t find any, you might pay the price of any other place at least from my perspective. The Swedish have a weird tradition of buying candies before they go to the line to pay for their shopping, very weird, but they all do it.  Once you pay make sure to bring, all your ids jajaja, and even your passport, at least if you are an international student (not from Europe), they gonna try to check that all the information on your cards matches you ids, and believe me it takes time, and it happens every every time.

After about one month of doing my grocery in Willys I was talking with one of my roommates from Spain, and he told me that there was another supermarket even closer than Willys, and with good prices, to be honest I was very happy, I did not want to continue walking to Willys. So I decided to give it a try and I went there. To be honest went I first crossed the doors of Lidl I knew I was in the right place, small supermarket, so you don’t get confuse with so many options, not a lot of people, good prices in almost everything and every week they have different promotions which are really good, and the most important every product is a quality product, so you will spend your money in a good way.  I did a similar grocery than the ones I used to do in Willys, and I paid almost half of what I used to paid in, so yes good points on that, they have one section only for Mexican products, where you can get flour tortillas which believe me is like gold for a Mexican in another country so good points on that too,  the employees in Lidl are really really nice, they are all really hard workers, they are polite, they help you out with your shopping and some of them even take their time to say Hej Mexicano!!! Lidl has also their candy stand for Swedish locals if you were wondering, and the lines to pay can get a little bit long, but when that happens the employees open other cashiers and actually they are really fast so don’t worry about that. If you are an international student (not from Europe) and pay with card, they will just ask you for an ID with your date of birth, which is less bureaucratic than in Willys.

So if you come to Uppsala then you must definitely try Lidl.

See you around.

Tack sa mycket!


How to celebrate Christmas like a Swede – By Jorja Zambars

Christmas in Sweden is a magical time of year. While it may be dark and cold outside, inside spaces are decorated to be warm and cosy and festive. Hopefully there will even be a layer of thick white snow covering the ground, making Sweden look like a magical winter wonderland. Although Christmas is primarily a religious holiday, many Swedes see it as a precious opportunity to be off from work, and to be together with family and loved ones. Festivities centre on eating, drinking and exchanging gifts, and involve a unique blend of domestic and foreign customs, many of which have been reinterpreted and modernised over the years. Regardless of your religion and beliefs, taking part in some of Sweden’s Christmas traditions will allow you to learn more about the culture, and at the same time enjoy this very festive season.

Here are our suggestions for celebrating Christmas the Swedish way:

Celebrate Christmas on the 24th December

Swedish people love Christmas so much, they celebrate a day early! This is common in many European countries, and dates back to ancient times before Christianity was ever introduced in Sweden.

Put lights in your window

Unlike other countries, Swedish people are very reserved when it comes to Christmas adornments. Rather than having extravagant decorations, Swedish people do just enough to make things feel extra warm and cosy. The most common forms of decoration you will see are electric candlesticks (julljusstakar) and stars (julstjärnor) adorning the windows of houses, apartments and office buildings. There is a huge assortment of electric candlesticks and stars in stores, and can be bought inexpensively from places like Claes Ohlson and IKEA.  So if you want to celebrate like a Swede this Christmas, put some festal lights in your windows. It will be equally as enjoyable for you as for all the people that walk by.

Build a gingerbread house

Credits: Miriam Preis/

Swedish people are a crafty bunch who love to create things themselves, especially around Christmas. Along with making many of their own decorations, Swedes love to make gingerbread houses. Children and adults alike enjoy this activity, and can be very ambitious when it comes to designing and embellishing their edible masterpieces. If you would like to build (and eat) your own gingerbread house, buy some dough from your local supermarket and get inspired! If you don’t have the time to go to too much effort, you can also pick up a kit with ready-to-assemble pieces.

Drink some mulled wine

Credits: Helena Wahlman/

On a cold winter’s day, there is nothing better than burrowing down on the sofa with a warm mug of mulled wine (glögg). Glögg is made from mixing port wine, orange peel, sugar, and spices such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. In Sweden, it is popular to drink glögg together with raisins and roasted almonds. It can be consumed both hot and cold, and non-alcoholic versions are available at most supermarkets. Swedish mulled wine has a very distinct flavour, and the scent of spices in the air is a clear indication that Christmas is on its way.

Find the perfect Christmas tree

Just like glögg, having the scent of fresh pine in your home is another wonderful smell to associate with Christmas. As 67% of Sweden is covered by forest, it is no surprise that Swedish people love to place gifts under a real, living Christmas tree. However, before you run out into the forest and start chopping down pines, remember that Allemansrätten (the right of public access to the wilderness) does not permit you to damage living trees. In reality, most people tend to buy their Christmas trees from the many dealers that appear during the month of December. An important tip when choosing the right tree is not to be too over-enthusiastic about the size and width. You must be able to transport it home, fit it through your front door, and set it up in the living room without scraping the wallpaper, obscuring the television, and layering the floor with nettles. Traditionally, families gather together to decorate the tree on the 23rd December, the evening before Christmas Eve. In the days and weeks that follow, Christmas trees are collected and taken to one of Sweden’s many energy-generating furnaces. The heat from which is used to warm up Swedish households across the country.

Watch a Lucia concert

Credits: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/

The Lucia tradition can be traced all the way back to both St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304, and to the Swedish legend of Lucia as Adam’s first wife. Today, kindergartens, schools, companies, shopping centres and workplaces all over Sweden have an annual Lucia procession on the 13th December. As Lucia is the bearer of light, those taking part in the procession wear long white gowns, carry candles, and have lights in their hair. Celebrating Lucia is one of the foremost cultural traditions in Sweden, and has clear references to darkness and light, cold and warmth.

Enjoy a Christmas buffet

Credits: Carolina Romare/

No Swedish-style Christmas is complete without a traditional Christmas buffet (julbord). The Swedish julbord offers an extensive assortment of food that has evolved from a wide variety of traditions. Although the Christmas table varies from household to household, staple foods include pickled herring (sill), meatballs (köttbullar), baked ham (julskinka), stockfish (lutfisk), baked potatoes with anchovy fillets (Janssons frestelse), smoked salmon (röktlax), chipolata sausages (prinskorv) and red cabbage (rödkål). On the side, Swedes love to consume Christmas root beer (Julmust), a Swedish soft drink that is only available at Christmastime. Although this feast should be eaten on Christmas Eve, you can often find restaurants serving a Swedish julbord throughout the month of December.

Watch the Christmas cartoon

One of the most unique Christmas traditions in Sweden is watching Donald Duck (Kalle Anka) on Christmas Eve. In 1958, Disney aired a Christmas program that was a collection of Christmas themed animated sketches and a selection from feature length cartoons. In 1960, at 3pm on Christmas Eve, Swedish television aired it for the first time. According to myth, Bengt Feldreich, who continues to be the narrating voice to this day, dubbed the Swedish program live. Apparently he translated what was happening on the spot, which makes the program even more charming. He also sings a Swedish version of ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ at the program’s conclusion. Disney’s Christmas special has aired for 52 consecutive years, at the same time on the same channel on Christmas Eve. If you really want to celebrate Christmas like a Swede, watching Kalle Anka is a must.

We’d love to know what you plan on doing for the Christmas holidays, and what special Christmas traditions live on in your countries today.