A traditionally decorated Swedish Christmas tree is the center of a Scandinavian family holiday. In the land of the midnight sun, the Christmas celebration starts with advent and Santa Lucia day, then builds to Christmas eve and the unveiling of the tree. Traditional Swedish Christmas ornaments are festive and beautiful, made from simple materials such as paper, straw and wood, and commemorate the return of light and the Swedish love of hand crafts.
On every Christmas Tree: Swedish Flag Garlands
A Swedish Christmas tree is not complete without Swedish flag garlands. Long chains of tiny flags, only an inch or two long, are draped around the tree. The blue background and gold cross is found only on Swedish Christmas trees, but other Scandinavian countries will use garlands of their own country’s flag.
The Homemade Christmas Ornament: Swedish Heart Baskets
Woven and circular heart baskets, filled with treats, are found on every Swedish Christmas tree. They can be purchased, but are more often handmade by the children in the family. Red and white paper create a festive holiday look.
The Classic Swedish Christmas Decoration: Straw Ornaments
All Swedish Christmas trees have a selection of hand crafted straw ornaments. Traditionally made from natural straw and tied with red thread, they are most often made in star shapes. Occasionally the straw will be dyed red. Some modern Swedish straw ornaments are also created in the shape of the Christmas Elf (tomte), Christmas Goat (Julbok), angels, hearts, pinecones and other seasonal shapes.
The Heirloom Swedish Christmas Decoration: Wooden Ornaments
Scandinavian Christmas trees have several types of wood ornaments. Wood shavings are glued together to make star and flower shapes. Carved wood in the shape of Dala horses, sheep, pigs, and other barnyard animals are common, either in natural wood or decoratively painted. Another Swedish favorite is an apple, painted red. Because these wooden Christmas ornaments are durable, they tend to be passed down as family heirlooms.
The Swedish Christmas Elf: The Tomte
No Swedish Christmas celebration is complete without a Tomte, or Christmas elf. Made of straw, wood, yarn, or fabric, he’s always dressed in red with a pointy hat and rosy red cheeks. The Tomte rides a Julbok, or Christmas goat. Small Tomte and Julbok ornaments may be hung on a tree, and larger ones may be part of a candle lit holiday display.
Gather the family together, make a big bowl of Glogg, the traditional Swedish spiced wine, enjoy some pickled herring on rye bread, and celebrate a traditional Scandinavian Christmas. God Jul!
Where to Buy Swedish Christmas Ornaments
In season, Ikea often has a selection of Swedish straw ornaments.
The Swedish-American Museum offers Tomte dolls, wooden ornaments, and a selection of books on Swedish Christmas traditions.
Scandinavian Market sells straw ornaments and flag garlands.