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Swedish Christmas celebration goes whole month long

Santa Lucia, in the form of Stockholm resident Tansy Sears, will bring light to the village of Stockholm during its Swedish Christmas celebration from, taking place on weekend through Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of Stockholm Merchants Association.

STOCKHOLM -- Back in the old country – Sweden – people have always celebrated Christmas, or “Jul,” throughout the entire month of December. Not to be outdone by its namesake, the village of Stockholm will offer its own version of Swedish holiday traditions, “A Stockholm Swedish Christmas,” continuing through Dec. 17.

While considerably smaller than its European counterpart, Stockholm (population 66) has more than 20 shops, restaurants and inns participating in the festivities, according to Amanda Scholz of the Stockholm Merchants Association.

“I’m not even Swedish, but I love making our village a fun, cozy place to be during the Christmas season,” says Scholz. “We’ve got Christmas gnomes, bonfires, make-your-own ornaments and treats galore. Everything to get in the holiday spirit.”

The events scheduled are as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 3: “God Jul!” (Merry Christmas!)

Non-Scandinavians may be surprised to see a young woman strolling around the village wearing a white gown and a wreath of candles on her head. That’s Santa Lucia, carrying out a 13th-century tradition of bringing light and handing out treats in the darkness of winter.

Visitors should keep their eyes peeled for the “Jultomte,” a gnome-like creature who generally makes an appearance around Christmas time, riding a horse-drawn wagon through the village. Weather permitting, the Jultomte’s pet goat, the "Julbock," will be in town as well. Shops will give away gifts to customers, and hot drinks and holiday food will be available throughout the day.

Saturday, Dec. 10: A DIY Christmas

For the do-it-yourself crowd, Stockholm’s shopkeepers will show visitors how to create their own ornaments, cards and other crafts. Projects range from simple cards for kids to more advanced jewelry-making and needle-felted ornaments. Many of the shops will have artists on hand to demonstrate crafts and help with projects.

Saturday, Dec. 17: The Fire of Stockholm

As the Winter Solstice looms, Stockholm will bring light and warmth to the village with bonfires, luminarias and fire dancers. A dance troupe called MinneFerno will perform a fire dance at 6 p.m. outside Sandy’s Clothing & Art. The performance is free, but financial donations will go to a charity supporting the homeless.

In the spirit of giving, Stockholm is participating in a Wisconsin-wide clothing drive called “The Big Bundle Up.” Visitors can drop off new or gently used coats, sweaters, hats, mittens and other warm clothing items at donation sites throughout the village.

In addition to the daytime activities in the village, Stockholm’s performing arts center, the WideSpot, will hold evening performances in December: a Christmas concert by a local singing group on the 3rd, and a staged reader's theater version  of “A Christmas Carol” on the 17th. Tickets are available through the WideSpot website.

Shops will be open Thursday through Sunday throughout the Swedish Christmas celebration, and open late on Saturdays.

“It’s a wonderful time to shop local and enjoy Christmas traditions,” says Scholz. “Even if they’re traditions you’re hearing about for the first time.”

A complete list of Stockholm Swedish Christmas events is on the Stockholm website, http://www.stockholmwisconsin.com/events.html.

For more information, contact: Amanda Scholz, Stockholm Merchants Association, at experiences@stockholmwisconsin.com or 715-442-2050.

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