Learn / Blog / Swedish Culture / Swedish Food Holidays
Swedish Culture

Swedish Food Holidays

June 25, 2021 By Emily Krumm

While they’re not official public holidays (or “röda dagar” = red days), there are plenty of days in Sweden that are observed with specific foods. For example, Kanelbullens Dag (Cinnamon Bun Day) is celebrated on October 4 every year. Not that there aren’t cinnamon buns in bakery cases across the country every other day, but they’re absolutely jam packed on October 4, and the smell of cinnamon wafts across entire grocery stores. Cinnamon Bun Day isn’t actually all that old – it was instituted in 1999 by Hembakningsrådet (The Home Baking Council) in order to celebrate home baking, something that many Swedes are very adept at.

On March 25, the Swedes celebrate Våffeldagen (Waffle Day). And the origins of it actually stem from a linguistic misunderstanding. March 25 is the Christian feast day of the Annunciation – in Swedish, this is called Vårfrudagen (Day of Our Lady). “Vårfrudag” sounds an awful lot like “Våffeldag,” and it’s thought that somewhere along the lines things got lost in translation. The Swedes went with it and now, thanks to an amusing linguistic confusion, delicious heart-shaped waffles are eaten all around the country on March 25.

Then there’s the very unique-to-Scandinavia semla bun. This cardamom-infused, almond-paste-and whipped-cream-filled treat used to strictly be eaten on Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) as a last indulgence before Lenten fasting. Nowadays, semlor are enjoyed all throughout the Easter season, and have since evolved into culinary variations. There was quite the uproar a few years ago with the introduction of the “semla wrap,” and some pastry purists rebelled against the break from tradition.

On Lucia Day, December 13, Swedes eat plenty of lussekatter, or Lucia buns. Made with saffron and curled to look like a cat’s tale (thus the “katt” in their name), these are eaten throughout Advent but enjoy special recognition on the day the patron saint of light. Lussekatter can be enjoyed in the morning with a cup of kaffe (coffee) and then again at night with glögg (Swedish mulled wine).

Other days that Swedes have dedicated to food are Kladdkakans Dag (celebrating a kind of sweet, gooey chocolate cake) on November 7 and Ostkakans Dag (cheese cake – but not what we think of in America) on November 14. Try any or all of these if you also have a “Swede” tooth!