Window 7: Today’s word is ‘Julskinka‘ which translates as ‘Christmas ham’ and is pronounced yule-hwinka (ish).
In the UK, I grew up eating roast turkey at Christmas. But in Sweden, it’s the ham that counts!
Swedes have been eating Christmas ham during the festive season since the 1600’s and many people consider it an obligatory part of the Christmas meal.
Originally it was a dish eaten only by the upper classes and rich farmers, but somewhere in the 1800’s in made it onto the tables of the general public.
The tradition of eating ham is thought to have evolved from the German pagan ritual of sacrificing a wild boar known as a sonargöltr to Frey, the Norse god of fertility, during the harvest festival. This was later adapted by the Christians and aligned with St Stephen’s Day which falls on December 26th.
Traditionally the cured ham is oven baked or boiled before it is coated in mustard and breadcrumbs and grill roasted. Here is a recipe.
The ham is mostly eaten with mustard and apple sauce. And the cold leftovers are eaten for days afterwards, often on crisp bread.
The Christmas ham is traditional in many other Northern European countries such as Finland, Estonia and Poland and even some parts of the USA and Australia.
Many people these days don’t eat meat, and therefore reject ham. However, to mimic the Christmas tradition, there are plenty of veggie centerpieces available including roasts made of soya, Quorn and other plant-based ingredients.