Advent Calendar – Dec 20: Jullåt

Window 20. Today’s word is ‘Jullåt‘ which translates as ‘Christmas song’. The ‘å’ letter in Swedish is pronounced something like ‘or’.

Obviously, the Christmas song is not unique to a Swedish Christmas. Like many other countries around the world, the playing of Christmas music starts in shops sometime in November and probably gives the shop assistants PTSD by the time Christmas has actually arrived.

The big international songs are popular in Sweden. According to the top list released by STIM (Sweden’s Music Copyright Protection Organisation), the most played international songs on Swedish radio are Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ by Mariah Carey and Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’.

However, there is also a plethora of Christmas music in Swedish to torment us – classic, carols, hymns, psalms and pop. Many of the songs have predictable titles about Christmas time and lighting candles. The top three most-played Swedish songs are called ‘Tänd ett ljus’ (Light a candle), ‘Jul, jul, strålande jul’ (Christmas, Christmas, glorious Christmas) and ‘Mer jul’ (More Christmas).

But there are also some songs with rather strange titles. Here are just a few of them:

  • Hello (Christmas) goblins
  • The fox rushes over the ice
  • Our Christmas ham has escaped
  • Three gingerbread men
  • The Christmas goat
  • Staffan was a stable boy
  • Drunk again at Christmas
  • The gnomes’ Christmas night

A popular tradition at Christmas is to go to one of the many Christmas concerts that take place up and down the country. These concerts can be for example choir concerts, church concerts or school concerts.

There are also many professional concerts and shows and some Swedish artists have carved out a living from performing at Christmas time and singing all the expected traditional songs.

This year for example you can see the Christmas tour ‘Min Sanna Jul’ with popular singer Sanna Nielsen. Or why not listen to the Royal Philharmonic’s Christmas concert with country singer Jill Johnson and Eurovision profile John Lundvik?

If you’d like to listen to some Swedish Christmas music, check it out here

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