Julafton is Christmas Eve, and is “the big day” in Sweden. The day for presents and dinners and church. But it is a bit odd because the shops are still open, even though it seems to be a holiday for many. It was even more confusing this year because Christmas Eve is a Sunday. But many churches, including our usual church, had no Sunday Service, because it was Christmas Eve. Seems odd that Christmas should be a reason for Christians to not go to church.

Our church does have a service tonight at 11pm. The traditional midnight Christmas Service. But it is not really useful for families with kids, especially as it is the end of the present opening day for most and the kids are exhausted. A I write, our kids are in bed after a lovely day, with lots of fun and smiles and laughter. Maria is thinking about whether to go to the midnight service, but I will be home.

We decided to go to church this morning at our “other church” – Sörbykyrkan – which being a Swedish Church follows the traditional Christian year much like the Anglican Church in Australia. We had a lovely service with lots of singing and a reading of the gospel account of the birth of Jesus, and afterwards there was a “birthday party” to celebrate, with cake and coffee, and dancing around the Christmas tree, in what must surely be an ancient pre-Christian tradition, with lots of silly songs and dances, much as people dance around the maypole in summer.

Tomorrow we will stay home. Our usual church, Fildalfia, has no services on Christmas Day, and we decided not to go to the Christmas service at Sörbykyrkan, which sounds less child friendly than today’s service. But on Tuesday we plan to go to another Christmas Service at Filadelfia, celebrating Christmas in pictures and music. Everything seems a bit topsy turvy to me, since we never have Christmas services on Boxing Day in Australia, at least not that I remember.

But today has been a beautiful day. It dawned bright and clear, with the temperature hovering around freezing all day, but with no more than a light frost. The sunshine is different at this time of the year, more colourful, and without the harshness of the Australian sun. It is gentle and vivid and it was a pleasure to cycle down the hill to church this morning.

We spent the afternoon with Marcus and Marie, Maria’s brother and sister in law, and their kids, Hampus and Ellen. Ate a lot, watched the traditional round of Swedish Christmas TV programs (seemingly the same every year, with Disney cartoons central to the event), and watched the kids opening Christmas presents, which is always fun.

Now its getting late and I have been flicking through friends blogs and was amazed to discover from Chris and Helen that there is the possibility of snow on the Australian Alps, which at the same time are ravaged by bushfires!


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