Dispatch #29 – Christmas.

A bit of a dandy, a bit of a cavalier and a lot of a charmer, rogue British official The Dippylomat. Esq. investigates…


I am waiting for a delayed flight, I am awkwardly perched in the supposedly ‘First Class’ departure lounge revelling in the joy of my inconvenience – oh, British Incompetence and Inefficiency™, how I have dearly missed your familiar ways; sterility, punctuality and functuality cut no mustard with my good self, it is the bemused bus queues, the harangued huddles of stranded commuters and the collectives of complainees that bind Britain.

My mission on temporary hold, I am returning to the Motherland for Christmas, having learned a hard lesson from last year’s merry-less Yuletide.

Let me recount the tale of mistlewoe and whine which came to be my 2010 debut Swedish Christmas and as I do so relive their traditions in all their pine-scented albeit gory detail.

I had been invited to spend the occasion at the Swedish Embassy, could there be a better place to patronise and mock appreciate and understand the manner in which this nation spends the day?

It started off badly and went downhill faster than an Olympic gold medalist skier. I arrived Christmas Day mid-morning and rapped the door with the brass handle knob of my walking cane. After a short wait I am met by a somewhat hungover looking hostess. Knowing I pride myself on etiquette she tried to politely explain I was late – a DAY late.

Christmas Day in Sweden is what we call in England ‘Boxing Day’; the drink is drunk and the delicacies are devoured. Swedes up and down the country are sniffing around plates of leftovers in the lingering fog of fumes which was yesterday’s snaps binge.  I had missed Christmas, but as I walk away the subservient Swede cried after me ‘nej, nej…’. I was then asked inside and told the day will be reenacted for me in its entirety.

Bring on the Dopp i grytan, the greasy, seasoned gloop leftover swampy waters previously used to boil the ham; guests are dared invited to dip bread into as a precursor to the main course.

But before my main meal fate is sealed and at the very split second Queen Elizabeth II address Her sadly diminished Empire, the Swedes, as if in an act of defiance, sit down and watch reruns of Kalle Anka, or as we would know him, Donald Duck. The Queen struggles to maintain our attention for seven minutes, but in Scandinavia Donald, by far the most popular Walt Disney creation here, keeps all generations of the treasoning Swedes glued to their seats for an hour – the country is effectively closed down by a duck. And as if to add quacking insult to injury, the running order of the cartoons does not change; year after year the same cartoons at the same time for as long as any Swede can remember.

The Swedish festive main is entirely unique, in that it is the only national Christmas dish which does not differ from what they eat herring-fuelled day in and anchovy-laced day out: balls of meat, rolls of fish and cold cuts The Swede’s logic apparently being ‘we love it, let’s celebrate by eating more of it’.

The largely carnivorous banquet is left to settle, disturbed only by the obligatory dance around the tree. At 19.00 hours the second bout of cartoon watching commences, this time it is the 1975 short animation Christopher’s Christmas Mission. A Robin Hood-inspired seasonal tale about a philanthropic Stockholmian boy to be watched while seeping Christmas porridge down your gullet to fill any gaps until your back teeth are floating in an unholy glut of food. In short, they eat too much and they watch rubbish on television, what kind of savages are these people…it makes your blood run cold even colder.

Right-o, I am boarding back to Blighty to eat turkey and Brussels sprouts, just like they did around that manger some 2011 years ago.

Toodle pip,

ATTENTION BOTH THE FOREIGN OFFICE AND EMPIREES: This Christmas why not offer your loved ones the gift of Subscription to The Northern Plights – it is free, but priceless.

About The Dippylomat, Esq.

A connoisseur, a charmer and a bit of a cad.
This entry was posted in alcohol, diets, Ex pats, Food, Hodge Podge, Humour, RAF, Stockholm, Sweden, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Dispatch #29 – Christmas.

  1. Rebekah says:

    Very entertaining reading 🙂

    Just a little mixed up, with regards to Kalle Anka; It’s on Christmas EVE, 3PM the country is shut down by a duck. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched Kalle, and also Santa’s Workshop. Each year I loved to see when they painted chess boards with checkered paint 🙂 It was a tradition and we loved it. The one about the Stockholmian guy came later, and I’ve never felt the same way about that. Never had Dopp i Grytan. Yukk…

    Hope your flight was sorted out. Last time I was on Heathrow, they still had a nice, large smokers’ area, but that’s probably gone by now — it’s eight years since I’ve been there.

    • My Regal Rebekah,

      You are indeed correct, it is Christmas Eve when they watch Donny the Duck, but it seems to me that it is also Christmas Eve when they celebrate…Christmas Day (at least from a British perspective!)

      Still trapped Swedeside, I might just swim if I get desperate!

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

      • Rebekah says:

        Correct! Christmas EVE is the big thing, when the gifts are handed out by Tomten and all that. Christmas Day, is an extremely quiet day, when you were not supposed to go anywhere [in old times], except Church. Julotta at 6AM! 🙂 Everything used to be closed — if you were a smoker back then, and had run out of smokes, then you were screwed … royally.

  2. Gristybeasty says:

    I see Boxing Day is Christmas day is it?
    Hi time you paddled back home laddie. Anyway, Happy Christmas and have a good one and , remember me to all those who still remember me and wish them the same

  3. madakanto says:

    Hihihi ! I´m going to la FRANCE for Xmas. So sad I will miss Kalle Anka.

  4. Beth Duncan says:

    Love it, as usual! Sounds like a ghastly place to be for Christmas.

  5. Carrie says:

    Christmas time, Mistletoe and Mulled wine!…….:-)

    I took a break from making mince pies and wrapping up gifts (seriously) to read your blog, only to find it was about Christmas! How lovely! 🙂

    I not sure of Donald Duck though, (I prefer Mickey Mouse) even though, we seem to have re-runs of poxy Harry Potter at Christmas!

    Happy Christmas, young fellow! Welcome back to cold England!

  6. SwedeGee says:

    I have instituted a boycott of all gift opening and duck watching on the eve. I stay home alone
    (albeit with the spirits of the season) while the Hubbs and kids go off to which ever relative is hosting the celebration. It only took me 8 years to deduce that the only reason they wanted me there was my inability to allow dishes to pile up, dislike of Donald over Mickey and as designated driver. As for me and my house: we will wait for Santa on the 25th. God Jul! 🙂 Wish I could go home for the holidays.

  7. Pingback: Christmas in Sweden « A Glass of Bubbly

  8. CC Champagne says:

    As you already know, I enjoyed this dispatch (I usually do), but this year I will emigrate for Christmas. Instead of NOT celebrating it in Sweden (the only celebration being done would be some Christmas ham and watching Donald Duck), I took your dispatch about Mexican food to heart and will be NOT celebrating it on a white Mexican beach with a tasty, cold margarita and a view of the turquoise ocean! God Jul och Gott Nytt År!!! *Christmas Hug*

    • My Dearest CC Champerss

      Mek.-e-kho? Are you sure that is wise? As I have pointed out that country has never received The Empire’s stamp of approval?

      You can be my scout, please report in ASAP on whether it is worth a colonialisation 🙂

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  9. I relished in your delightful experience and proclamation of Swedish X-mas. Mymy, are we truly that bonkers about this holiday? I didn’t realise. However, I must admit I do enjoy the one hour childish laugh of Kalle Ankas Jul.

    This “dopp i grytan” has been heard of but never tried, do I dare? Doing new things is something I thrive from but this is a little, let’s say, a bit skeptical about. What IS your favorite part of X-mas? Be honest.

    Oh dear, Heathrow… well, I did have my adventure for one day at Houston Airport, Texas when changing flight from Arizona to Florida. Horrific. I dare not go into details considering it is the 21st Century we are in and that the Internet is one of THE most scariest thing ever created (keep in mind that I am ONLY referring to the beastly things it can do to people) I should not speak my mind. 🙂

    Anyway, lovely to hear that you will be going back to “England’s pleasant greens”.

    As I wrote in my blog to you: Merry X-mas & A Happy New Year. (observe that I wrote X-mas in spite of Hyacinth Bucket in “Keeping up Appearances”. She thinks it’s so common to write X-mas instead of the proper Christmas.)

    // E

    • My Enlightening //E,

      As a chap brought up by a Father who had one foot in the Victorian era and the other in the Edwardian era, what I enjoy most about Christmas is frugaility.

      Joking aside, I find the whole sordid affair just one, great big mess. What I enjoy most is the tidying up in the early New Year, I love that fresh start and the uber mess which preceeds it just amps up that brand new vibe which pervades the air.

      ~The Dippylomat esq.

  10. Got my book says:

    Haha, you’re funny ^^

  11. Tess says:

    Holiday Greetings to you Mr Dippylomat esq!
    As one of your primary informants on All Things Swedish, I must beg your pardon for forgetting to inform you about yet another delicacy of the Swedish Christmas spread.

    Meet the ‘lutfisk’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutefisk

    After all, it is not every day that you use lye in cooking, rather than for cleaning out pipes. Very festive indeed.

  12. belovelive says:

    What a hilarious & so very true account of the Christmas celebrations here! Sounds like your last Christmas was a doozy. Can’t say that I don’t agree with you in heading back to your homeland this year after your previous experience.

    I am quite depressed this year as the snow that has fallen is only that little bit that was seen in my morning post. MEH. I might as well be back in NC…

    Here’s to wishing you a very Merry British Christmas!!! ~ Liz

  13. Aww thanking you kindly, my Belovedlive,

    Honoured that you have graced this page.

    A Christmas is not complete without an tot of British port in my humble opinion. It is good to be back on this hallowed British turf.

    ~ The Dippylomat esq

  14. ladyfi says:

    One thing about the Swedes – they do love to celebrate everything the day before!

    Sorry to hear about your fiasco last year. I’m staying in Sweden because I really don’t want to miss those cartoons! 😉

  15. My good Lady Fi,

    May I take this moment to wish you the Happiest of Christmases.

    ~ The Dippylomat esq

  16. Hope you’re having a really good Christmas!! The “dopp i grytan” things is so disgusting :S LOL!

    • Indeed I am Dear Ms Bengtsson,

      One is currently hiding away from the family seniors in fear that I may embarrass myself after one to many glasses of the fizzy happy juice!

      *discreet burp*

      ~ The Dippylomat esq.

  17. Gina says:

    back again. i cooked a ham this afternoon and asked The Hubbs if he wanted to dop bread in the fatty, gelatin substance that was swirling around the carrot, onion, bay leaves and peppercorns and he declined. WHAT IN THE HELL KIND IF LESSON/ TRADITION IS THÀT ..oops sorry, shouting to “pass on??” We decided to upfoster our heathern barn in Sweden and none of them wants to “chew the fat”. I rest my case and look forward to eating some cardiac inducing sausages, toast and eggs.

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