Julkalender—Sweden’s Serialized TV Christmas Countdown

There is just something about late November and December that makes pretty mediocre cinema suddenly magical because it has Christmas in the title. We can easily suspend disbelief for poorly-run small town businesses being saved, princes popping up by the dozen in the Midwest, and love at second sight at the very latest.

On the Tenth Day of Imported Christmas, we discovered that the Nordic countries are way ahead of us in the Christmas content arena, thanks to their annual televised julkalender.

Julkalenders, or Christmas calendars, first aired in Sweden in 1957 as a radio series, but have since expanded to television and all Sweden’s neighbors. Each julkalender series has 24 episodes, beginning on December 1st and playing daily until Christmas Eve. Each calendar is focused on Christmas, with some being geared toward children and others to adults. They often share common themes, like Santa Clause and tomter or nisser (small gnomes with white beards and conical caps). In addition to the year’s new calendar, stations play reruns of past favorites, so if you turn on your tv at any time of day in December, you’re likely to find a Christmas calendar playing.

If you can find a way to stream or get a copy, we recommend watching a Nordic original Christmas calendar. Since that isn’t always an option, you can also create your own Christmas calendar by making a list of Christmas favorites to use as a countdown. Just don’t be surprised if the film or episode you adored on December 15th seems unwatchable by January 5th.

Interested in learning about more international Christmas traditions? Follow our 12 Days of Imported Christmas:

Twelve Days of Imported Christmas

  1. The First Day: Chichilaki—Georgia’s Shaved Christmas Tree
  2. The Second Day: Lotería de Navidad—Spain’s Communal Christmas Lottery
  3. The Third Day: Stargazy Pie—Cornwall’s Town-Saving Fish Dish
  4. The Fourth Day: Rellenong Manok—The Phillipines’ Elaborately Stuffed Christmas Chicken
  5. The Fifth Day: Himmeli—Finland’s Geometric Straw Ornaments
  6. The Sixth Day: Figgy Pudding—England’s Fiery Festive Centerpiece
  7. The Seventh Day: Glückspilz—Germany’s Lucky Mushroom
  8. The Eighth Day: Pumpple Cake—Philadelphia’s Quadruple Dessert
  9. The Ninth Day: Porchetta—Italy’s Decadent Pork Centerpiece
  10. The Tenth Day: Julkalender—Sweden’s Serialized TV Christmas Countdown
  11. The Eleventh Day: Peppermint Pig—Saratoga’s Shattered Sow
  12. The Twelfth Day: Ursul—Romania’s Bear Dance Festival

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