Today, the first of Advent, the light shines strong in the darkness. Swedes decorate their houses, apartments and windows with lights. From ceilings, illuminated stars are hung. On window ledges, electric advent candles are placed. On tables, four candles are positioned and one is lit every Sunday up until Christmas. Small candles, often red, are dotted about the home. Some people change curtains and populate their homes with small gnomes and flowers.
Since November has been a rainy month, the collective advent decoration is a definite reprieve from the darkness as light is spread into these murky places.
This weekend is also the starting signal for the Swedish ‘glöggfest’. People go to each other’s homes and drink ‘glögg’ (mulled wine), eat gingerbread and saffron buns. It a very cosy time of year. Because the word ‘advent’ means ‘arrival’, it does actually seem appropriate at Advent to open up your home and wait for your guests to arrive.