For this ritual, the participants form a circle and pass a jar of an alcoholic beverage all the way around until everyone has drunk. At each passing of the jug, they say this to each other (person one starts holding the jug).
Person 1: Per Mattsa!
Person 2: Vud vill du?
Person 1: Jag vill dricka.
Person 2: Så dricka då
Person 1: Per Mattsa!
Person 2: Vad vill du?
Person 1: Hur smakte det?
Person 2: Känn På!
Person 1: Greetings
Person 2: What do you want?
Person 1: I want to drink.
Person 2: So – drink
Person 1: What do you want?
Person 2: How did it taste?
Person 1: You taste it.
The informant is part of a Swedish-American family and does this tradition on a yearly basis at Christmas time.
This tradition has its roots deep in Swedish Viking tradition according to the informant. They claim it was used to prove whether or not it was poisoned as everyone had to drink it. Another variation of the story is that it was used by royalty and the king was the last one to drink and so he would know that it was safe by the time it got to him. Either way, this tradition is a form of showing unity among the group who is partaking in it at a time of year when this is important to them. Despite having its roots in the Viking tradition it is been adapted to being done at Christmas, like many other pagan traditions when the Catholic church pushed to Christianize pagan traditions. Although now it is not done to show the liquid is not poison, the sharing indicates that all are willing to share the same jar. Like many traditions it gets adapted from its original form, keeping the same outline but now being used in a different setting, all the while helping those involved retain a sense of their heritage.
On Christmas Eve the foods are based on the Viking traditional foods in Sweden :
- Cold First course:
- Beet salad with beets, pickles, herring
- Rye or hard bread with butter and cheese
- Warm second course
- Ham with mustard
- Julienne potatoes with cream and anchovies
- Cookies with cream and berries
Then on Christmas day aside from the leftovers, the foods are based on Christianised Swedish foods:
- We have leftovers from Christmas Eve for the first course
- Second course
- Lutefisk or another more mild white fish
- Boiled potatoes
- Bechamel sauce
- Rice porridge with milk, sugar, and cinnamon
- Put a peeled almond in the porridge (so it is the same color) and everyone takes it without looking
- Then we say poems around the table while eating and the person who gets to almond has to pretend like they don’t have it and everyone guesses who got the almond
- Whoever gets the almond gets a little almond gift
The informant is the granddaughter of a Swedish immigrant and these are the traditional foods eaten on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for dinner.
The informant’s family is Swedish-American and therefore mixes some American traditions in with the Swedish but relies heavily on the Swedish ones for the majority of what they do. Eating these foods although difficult to get and not always the favorite of the American guests allows for the family to retain part of their identity that they find important. They make an annual summer trip to Sweden and would like to eventually spend Christmas there as well as there are more Christmas traditions that they cannot do as they are not in the right location. Because of this, they do the ones they can which include the food they eat. Retaining the pre-Christian Viking food as well indicates a sense of pride in their heritage and brings them together. Keeping the traditions also helps add a sense of family and fosters an atmosphere of community. The family is very close as a result and all of them meet for all major holidays. The traditions bring them together and give clear boundaries of who is considered family and who is not, as it is a big deal to be invited to partake in the traditions.