At Stufvenäs Gästgifveri’s classic and tasty Christmas dinner, we try to preserve the Småland and traditional Christmas dinner dishes. Some of the dishes have a long history, but there are also those that have a more modern history.
The Christmas bread
The Christmas bread was very different from the bread you ate normally. Mainly because it was baked into molded bread. In addition, wort was used for dough liquid and if you were in a really good position, you stuffed it in dried fruits such as apples, figs, and raisins. The bread was also flavored with syrup, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Dopp i grytan
The countdown to Christmas is called “dan före dopparedan” (the day before the dipping day). During the Christmas preparations, it was practical to quickly dip some bread in the ham decoction from the Christmas ham that was often on the stove. From the beginning, dipping in the casserole is not a typical Christmas dish but something that you had to do to soften old, hard bread so that it could be eaten. Almost like today’s fondue.
Christmas porridge was practical party food when the family would eat together. Porridge was not only the main course at Christmas but also at the harvesting feast. But in the past, people did not eat rice porridge but barley porridge.
The pickled herring of our time originates from the salty herring that was eaten every day before. Salt herring was on the dining table almost every day in the Småland villages in the past. It was eaten much more often than meat. So an exhausted everyday dish has with the help of spices, sauce and different seasonings turned into a delicacy in our time.
According to some sources, the dish was attributed to opera singer Per Adolf “Pelle” Janzon in the 19th century. He made himself known for offering schnapps and anchovy gratin, which would have given rise to the name Janzon’s temptation on this type of gratin. He would have been inspired by anchovy boxes with similar contents. However, the name of the dish was not widely accepted until 40 years after Janzon’s death, well into the 20th century.
The oldest Scandinavian name for the Christmas celebration was “drinking Christmas”. The Christmas beer would be of the best quality. As a forerunner to the Christmas table eating of our time in a restaurant, you can see the village farmers’ Christmas party, when you walked around the farms and tasted each other’s Christmas beer. Since the home brewing ended, various mixed drinks have emerged as mumma. The most famous and beloved is the “Julmust”, which was launched in 1910.
Mulled wine has been around since the Middle Ages and was created by having to season the wine to hide its poor quality. Then they heated it to kill mold and other things. But it is not until the end of the 19th century that it is mentioned as a special Christmas drink. Nowadays, mulled wine is a warming year-round drink.
Hazelnuts and apples have a long tradition as Christmas sweets in Småland. Exotic fruits such as figs, dates, raisins, foreign nuts, and chocolate and marzipan figures came when the colonial trade developed during the 19th century.
That we eat so much pork at Christmas is due to the fact that during the self-providing period we ate nothing but salted meat during the rest of the year. But at the big slaughter in the autumn, they used to save one or a couple of pigs that were slaughtered just before Christmas and were enjoyed fresh and that was considered a great delicacy.
However, Christmas ham did not belong to the Christmas dinner in the farming community. The hams used to be saved for the summer and cut into smaller pieces. Most of the pork was boiled in the past and the fat decoction was used, for example, for “dopp i grytan”. The Christmas ham dates from the end of the 17th century but was then eaten mainly by the higher classes.
Our most Swedish national dish. But meatballs are found all over the world under different names and in different flavors. Today it is most common that we fry our meatballs, but during the 18th and 19th centuries, they were boiled. It is a fairly modern phenomenon to grind down meat to minced meat. But really finely chopped meat is historically a common method to use for sausages and other things. That made taking advantage of all the cutting details and made it easier for people’s poor dental health.
Lye fish is called stockfish and was a Christmas dish in many Småland homes. Fresh fish was difficult to get hold of during the winter. In the past, lye fish was eaten as a dry fish. Thin slices were cut and dipped in butter.