December TV in Sweden–A Sacred Tradition

Family watching TV 1958

Family watching TV in 1958. This image is in the Public Domain.


Television is important to Sweden in December. First we get the Christmas Calendar which I posted about recently. Then there is the Nobel Prize ceremony on December 10 which is a big deal on TV in Sweden. After that comes the long-cherished Christmas Eve program.

Christmas Eve Host
Singer Sarah Dawn Finer has been given the prestigious job of hosting Swedish Television’s Christmas Eve programming this year.

For a long time, the job long belonged to TV star Arne Weise. He retired in 2003 and ever since there has been a new host chosen every year.

Sarah Dawn Finer is a singer but she has also been a TV presenter before, for example at this year’s Swedish Song Contest. She also presented Sweden’s votes at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Donald Duck and the Christmas Eve Program
The Christmas Eve program always begins at 3pm on Christmas Eve. At that time, I’m not kidding, nearly all of Sweden stops what they are doing and they sit down to some ritualistic television. At preciely 3pm Swedens Television (SVT) airs “Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul” (From All of Us to All of You).

“Kalle Anka” as you might know is known as “Donald Duck” in English. The one-hour Disney show which is shown in many countried consists of clips from classic Disney films like “Robin Hood” and “The Jungle Book.”


Donald Duck or “Kalle Anke” as he’s known in Sweden. This image is in the public domain.

“The show is one of the highest-rated Swedish television programs, only rivaled by international sports events and the Eurovision Song Contest, and most Swedish people can recite much of the show,” according to Wikipedia.

Karl Bertil
A little while later in the afternoon, SVT shows another traditional Christmas show called “Sagan om Karl-Bertil Jonssons Julafton” (In English it’s called “Christopher’s Christmas Mission”).  This film is also animated and tells the story of a boy who steals from the rich to give to the poor in Stockholm on Christmas Eve.

A Few Changes This Year…
There’s a rather famous (and quite interesting) Slate magazine article by an American who spent Christmas with his wife’s Swedish relatives in Sweden a few years ago.  But before you click away to that link, note that this year, 2012, Disney, who owns the rights to the show and to all the clips from its movies, has enforced the removal of two questionable parts of two clips. The scenes, which were unfortunately acceptable in the 1930’s are considered offensive today. The Slate article, which was written in 2009 makes reference to those scenes.

  • Monica-USA

    Well Kristin I guess watching a Donald Duck cartoon is no different than us Americans watching all the Christmas cartoons and stop animation programs we have every year. Like my Uncle once said to me you are never too old for cartoons! And he is right. :o ) Enjoy your Christmas Eve classics.