What Do Kids in Sweden Leave for Santa?

Christmas in Sweden is as glamorous as it is across other European countries. Everyone looks forward to the season, but for children, it’s one of the best parts of the year.

In one of the Christmas traditions, children leave something for Santa when he visits, but it’s not the traditional American gift of cookies and milk.

Kids in Sweden leave a cup of coffee for Santa when he comes by on the evening of December 24th.

The idea is that Santa must be tired from visiting many countries and homes, and he still has a long night ahead. The coffee is a thoughtful offering to keep him alert throughout the night.

 The rest of this article will explain more about Christmas in Sweden.

Also, What Does Santa Ride Instead of Reindeer in Finland? to learn more.

Why do Swedes Leave coffee out for Santa? See below

Why Do Swedes Leave Coffee Out for Santa? 

Kids in Sweden ensure Santa meets a coffee whenever he arrives to drop off their presents.

It’s always on Christmas Eve (December 24th) or Julafton, while the gifts are called Julklappar. [1] 

It’s unclear why Swedes leave coffee out for Santa.

It’s a tradition handed down with each generation. However, most Swedes believe that Santa still has a long night ahead of him and needs coffee to stay active and awake. 

The gesture is common amongst Swedish kids because they are taught to be kind and generous. Thus, they feel the need to leave a present for Santa. 

The tradition is not popular in other parts of the world, where children only expect gifts from Santa for good behavior but don’t leave him anything in return.

How Does Santa Deliver Presents in Sweden? 

Santa is known as Jultomtem (Tomtom of Jul) in Sweden, and they believe he has a gnomelike appearance. 

Santa comes in person to present the gifts at the door. He doesn’t descend from a chimney, as in popular Christmas lore.

Even when an older family member disguises themself as Santa (Tomten), they must appear at the door with the gifts and also go back outside after delivery.

The kids unveil the gifts Santa brings on Christmas Eve (December 24th), usually in the evening as opposed to morning gift-opening traditions around the world.

The rule is to unwrap while it’s still dark as Santa also brings his gifts at dusk. 

In most parts of Sweden, it’s already dark by 2 pm, so they don’t wait too long to unwrap their presents. 

Also, Do People Celebrate Halloween in Sweden? to learn more.

What other Christmas traditions does Sweden have? See below

What Other Christmas Traditions Does Sweden Have?

Christmas in Sweden starts on December 13th, known as St. Lucia’s Day, and lasts for a month, ending on January 13th.

However, preparations begin as early as late November and are also part of the Christmas fun. Christmas in Sweden is also known as Jultide, with “Yul” replaced by “Jul.

Some of the other Christmas traditions Sweden has is that Christmas is celebrated on December 24 instead of the 25, and the oldest girl in the home will dress up as St. Lucia on St. Lucia Day (the first day of the Christmas holidays).

Children also watch a special cartoon at 3 pm every Christmas. 

The following sections will look at each of these traditions in more detail. [2] 

Christmas Is on December 24th

While December 25th is a sacred date for Christmas across the globe, most Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, choose the day before it to celebrate.

Christmas Eve is the main Christmas for the Swedes, where they gather, open gifts, eat plenty of food (Julbord), and spend quality family time. 

By the time the world is awake and alive with Christmas on the 25th, the Swedes are resting from the activities of Christmas Eve. 

All preschools shut down before this period, and workplaces declared vacations.

Preparations begin in earnest from the last week of November and ascend to their peak between the 20th and 22nd. 

The preparations begin in line with what is known as Advent. It’s a tradition of marking the four Sundays before Christmas, similar to Lent before Easter.

A candle represents each Advent (which is a Sunday before Christmas), and when the fourth candle is lit, the Swedish people know Christmas is upon them. 

After Christmas Eve, the government declares December 25th and 26th as public holidays. The festivities continue until January 13th, known as St Knut’s Day. 

On this day, Children often celebrate a “Knuts Party” to mark the end. Christmas trees, flowers, and every other decoration are brought on or after this day. 

Also, Why Is Sweden So Rich? to learn more.

Sweden at night

St. Lucia Day

Lucia is a young devout Christian girl who got martyred because of her kindness, religion, and benevolence in Rome.

She is remembered every December 13th in Sweden, and the day is designated “St Lucia’s.” Lucia was killed in 304 A.D. while still holding firm to her faith. [3] 

In those days of Lucia, Christians faced extreme persecution for their faith, so they often hid in the catacombs for safety.

What stood Lucia apart was her caregiving to the Christians. She would take food to them in their hideouts (catacombs), wearing candles on her head so her hands would be free to hold the food. 

In celebrating this tradition of Christmas, the oldest girl child in the house will pose as St Lucia. She will dress in all white and a stash of red while wearing a crown with candles.

The girl acting as Lucia usually presents breakfast and coffee to the entire family that day. 

On a larger scale, the community will pick a girl to act as Lucia to visit hospitals and schools or lead the Advent processions. 

The 3 PM TV Show 

One of the most remarkable Christmas rituals for the Swedes is the 3 pm T.V. show that all kids watch.

When it’s time, everyone will converge before their T.V. screens to watch the Disney Cartoon series ‘From All of Us to All of You’ featuring Donald Duck, A.K.A Kalle Anka. 

The American cartoon series was created in the 50s, but they watch it yearly with renewed interest, and it never gets old or boring. While cartoons are for kids, adults join and often enjoy themselves. [4] 


One of the highlights of Christmas for Swedish children is when Santa comes bearing gifts. They leave coffee for him in a decades-long tradition.

Also, Why Does Sweden Have a Small Population? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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