This will be my first Jul in Sweden, and I’m excited! I’m hungry for the experience and ready to embrace new traditions, new ways of celebrating this most beautiful of times. Slowly, slowly little bits of Jul are making their way into the apartment – we’re eating plenty of gingerbread and forever lighting candles – and I’m welcoming the festivities with open arms.
While out shopping the other day, Sebastian suggested we take a bottle of non-alcoholic glögg (the Swedish version of mulled wine) to bring winter in. Sebastian said he preferred the non-alcoholic version, as it reminded him of the Jul celebrations of his childhood. I’m not a drinker, so I was more than happy to go with the non-boozy alternative.
The nights are closing in very early here – I love it! – so it’s nice to have something, sweet, warm and spicy to enjoy while old man winter wanders around outside, frosting the spider webs and encouraging the icicles to grow. It’s common here in Sweden for every family to have their own glögg recipe, and the drink has a lengthy history. Fascinatingly, glögg roughly translates to glow, though it started life in 1609 under the title glodgad vin which means ‘glowing hot wine.’ It was in the 1890’s that drinking glögg became a Jul tradition.
It’s tradition to serve glögg warmed in a little mug with blanched almonds and raisins, and a tiny spoon to scoop out the fruit and nuts. Lussebullar (a sweet bun made with saffron and raisins) and pepparkakor (gingerbread) are also part of the glögg tradition. On this occasion, we enjoyed our glögg with pepparkakor hearts. (We went for gingerbread from Göteborgs Pepparkaksbageri this time. It has a really spicy kick which is ever so moreish.) The glögg we chose is from Blossa, a company which offers an extensive range of specialized glögg. It was deliciously sweet, with warming spicy tones of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom. Accompanied with the pepparkakor, it made for an especially cosy, memorable winter evening.