As the days get darker and darker, it's no surprise that a Northern country like Sweden would know how to make December the coziest month of the year. In Sweden, December is full of celebrations and traditional food and drink.
One of my favorite December customs is adventskaffe, a coffee gathering to celebrate Advent. It's essentially the combination of two of Sweden's most iconic traditions: fika and Christmas.
What Is Adventskaffe (and Fika)?
Fika is the customary Swedish coffee break — most often a cup of coffee with a sweet treat to go with it.
More About Fika: What Is Fika? An Introduction to the Swedish Coffee Break
But adventskaffe is a little more advanced. Not only do you come together to drink coffee with family and friends, but there's also glögg, Swedish mulled wine, and plenty of holiday baked goods on hand. And you've got four Sundays to do it; you could even do one every Sunday of Advent if you so choose.
An excuse to get together with friends, drink coffee and mulled wine, and eat cookies? No one is going to turn this down.
How to Host Your Own Swedish Advent Coffee
Want to embrace Nordic tradition and host your own adventskaffe? Here are the essentials.
While during the month of December any Swedish household will have lots of candles placed everywhere, there is one set of candles that is particularly important. Swedish Advent candle holders have four white candles in them — one for each Sunday of Advent leading up to Christmas. Traditionally they are long rectangle boxes that are filled with moss, and each Sunday a new candle is lit.
If you don't have a traditional Swedish Advent candle holder, you can simply put together a collection of four candles. If you want, put them in a row on a tray, and place moss around them.
Traditional Swedish Christmas Cookies & Baked Goods
There are a few baked goods that you can't be without if you host a Swedish Advent coffee:
- Pepparkakor are the go-to Swedish Christmas cookie — a crispy and spicy gingersnap, cut into various shapes with cookie cutters, the most common being hearts, pigs, and gingerbread men and women.
- Saffransbullar (also known as lussebullar) are buns made from a sweet, yeasted dough that's flavored with saffron. The resulting yellow buns are a bright addition to the table, and commonly served in celebration of Saint Lucia Day.
- No adventskaffe is complete without a few småkakor ("small cookies") on the table. These smaller (often very buttery) cookies can be made in a variety of ways. It's common to have an array of cookies on the table during the month of December in Sweden. You can't go wrong with classics like chokladsnittar (chocolate slices), syltgrottor (jam thumbprint cookies), and mandelmusslor (almond tartlets).
- If you are up for making your own candy, knäck is another Swedish holiday essential. The Swedish toffee can be adapted as you like; add nuts, spices, citrus zest, or whatever else you're craving.
The typical Swedish coffee is dark, black filter, so any type of pour over or French press coffee will do just great. If you're planning on hosting a crowd for your adventskaffe, consider making a batch in advance and storing it in a thermos.
Beyond Coffee: Glögg
A Swedish fika isn't complete without strong, dark coffee, but this time of year, there's another essential drink that also gets served: glögg. The Swedish mulled wine pairs perfectly with sweet and spicy cookies like pepparkakor.