Comparison Between My Own Holiday Traditions and Swedish Traditions

Partaking in traditional Swedish culture was something extremely out of my comfort zone. It was interesting to experience and compare the differences between my own holiday traditions with Swedish traditions. In my personal interaction, I spent a Sunday in the beginning of December with a Swedish family from my neighborhood. One of the girls in the family, Bella, is good friends with my younger sister, however, I have never gotten the opportunity to ask about or experience their culture and traditions.

Each summer Bella and her family visit Sweden with their family, so it was interesting to hear about their experiences in both Swedish and American culture.

Together, we spent the day baking holiday cookies and preparing cookie tins to give to their Swedish friends from church along with some other family members and friends. The cookies we made are called saffransbullar and pepparkakor cookies (saffron or Lucia buns and gingersnaps). These delicious baked goods are traditionally served during the holiday season in Sweden.

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Saffransbullar cookies are also often referred to as Lucia buns or Lucia cats; and are flavored with a spice called saffron and dark raisins and often shaped into what resembles the letter “S” or an infinity symbol. These Lucia Cat cookies are very symbolic within Swedish culture. On December 13, Sweden celebrates Lucia Day, also called Saint Lucy’s Day, symbolizing the light within the darkness of winter. Traditionally, Lucia is known as the bearer or light. On this holiday, children wear white with wreaths of battery-powered candles in their hair.

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The gingersnaps are cut using cookie cutters often in the shape of people, pigs, or hearts; and are decorated with frosting. The gingerbread dough is also often used by Swedish children to make gingerbread houses. I had such a wonderful time celebrating and learning about Swedish culture and its traditions.

The recipe we used was from a Swedish cookbook, however, I found a similar recipe online. It was interesting to compare the Swedish cookbook with an American cookbook as well. One difference that was difficult to translate for me was the use of grams insead of cups. There were not many other differences, as the cookbook was written in English. (both recipes are attached below)

Personally, after just writing a paper about Swedish culture, I wasn’t all that knowledgeable about all of the particular customs and traditions that we discussed. It was interesting to learn about their own experience with the holiday season as a Swedish family in America. They still have family in Sweden, and visit them annually so they are able to stay in touch with their heritage. There was plenty that I was familiar with, however, they were often explaining things to me about their holidays and celebrations that I was not aware of. I was very respectful and eager to learn more about Swedish culture; however, Bella and her family were often shocked and impressed with how much I had been exposed to from my research. Based on my part one analysis on Swedish culture, I was not at all surprised with my personal interaction. I was familiar with the desserts we made after writing my first paper; and was even familiar with Lucia Day.

Through understanding intercultural interaction, my experience would be considered mindful. Overall, my experience was very pleasant and enjoyable. I would definitely make the cookies again, as they tasted amazing and are perfect holiday treats! The people we gave them to were also very pleased and thankful. Learning more about Swedish culture ultimately allowed me to gain more knowledge and engage in effective intercultural interaction.

Updated: Dec 11, 2021
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Comparison Between My Own Holiday Traditions and Swedish Traditions. (2021, Dec 11). Retrieved from

Comparison Between My Own Holiday Traditions and Swedish Traditions essay
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