How to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Sweden

Have you ever wondered how Swedes celebrate New Year’s Eve? I’ve been living in Sweden for eight years, and I must admit, I wasn’t quite sure about the Swedish New Year traditions. Traditions are often influenced by the cities we live in, the households we grew up in, and the company we keep. But this year, as I reflected and pondered, I discovered some unique ways in which Swedes welcome the new year.

The Watching of the Dinner

In Sweden, just like in Denmark, there is a beloved New Year’s tradition: watching the short sketch called “Dinner for One.” This sketch revolves around an upper-class Englishwoman who celebrates her 90th birthday party with her deceased friends. Her butler, pretending to be each of them, raises a toast to their memory. Known as “Grevinnan och betjänten” in Swedish, this sketch has been aired in Denmark since 1980 and in Sweden since 1969. It’s a fun way to drink along with Miss Sophie and her four “friends”.


The Reciting of the Poem

As the clock approaches midnight, a somber reading of a classic poem called “Ring Out, Wild Bells” (or “Nyårsklockan” in Swedish) takes place. This poem, written by a British poet in 1850, was introduced as a Swedish New Year’s tradition in 1895. Over the years, it has been recited by different actors, each adding their unique touch to the performance. Some actors time their recitation perfectly with the tolling of the bells at midnight, making the toast and countdown an exciting surprise.

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2020 poem

The Lighting of the Sky

At the stroke of midnight, the sky comes alive with a dazzling display of fireworks. This is how Swedes bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one with a bang. Balconies across the country are filled with spectators waiting to witness the colorful bursts of light. Fireworks have long been a popular way to celebrate, and though regulations have become stricter, the tradition continues to light up the Swedish sky.

The Throwing of the Shoes

One old tradition, though not as widely practiced today, involves throwing shoes at the door at midnight. It is said that if your shoe falls facing the door, it signifies a potential move or change in the coming year. While this tradition may not be as prevalent now, it’s interesting to learn about the various customs associated with New Year’s Eve in Sweden.

The Listening of the Song

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve in Sweden without playing “Happy New Year” by the legendary Swedish pop band ABBA. It’s a song that surely gets played more in Sweden on this particular evening than anywhere else. It adds a touch of nostalgia and joy to the celebrations.

So, as we approach the end of the year, let’s take a moment to reflect on our own New Year’s traditions. Are they inherently Swedish or influenced by our friends and family? If you have any unique customs to add to the list, feel free to share. Here’s to a fantastic 2020!

Gott Nytt År Från Sverige! Happy New Year from Sweden.

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