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Swedish Christmas Hardcover – Nov 13 2003

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About the Author

Peter Astrom, photographer and artist from Sweden, has been featured in Time Life Book 60 Years of Photography. They live in New York. NY.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful book however, recipes don't seem to be tested. Dec 14 2009
By M Eriksson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book as a gift from my Swedish mother-in-law. It is really lovely to look at and I take it out every Christmas to use as reference for our annual Julbord (Christmas feast). The book gives the reader a nice taste of the author's Christmas traditions but doesn't go into too much detail about the origins of the customs which doesn't bother me too much because I only have to ask one of my husband's family members if I have a question. I agree with another reviewer that it would have been nice if the author had included the proper Swedish names for things.

Some of the recipes are really good, like the mumma (which is a concotion of a few types of beer, ginger ale and madeira), the toffee bars and the pink caramels, however several recipes seem to not have been tested. One year I tried making the gingersnaps and something was very wrong-- I had to throw the whole batch out. Today I was drooling over the photo of the coconut tops only to find that there's no coconut listed in the ingredients or mentioned in the recipe (if the Swedish name for the cookies were listed I could look it up!) There are other typos as well and oddly translated words which are rather annoying.

The author seems not realize that many Swedish ingredients can be found at specialty shops and IKEA and relies only on what can be found in American grocery stores for her recipes. This is a plus for someone who doesn't want to be bothered with ordering ingredients however, I think that anyone interested in creating a Swedish Christmas would want it to be as authentic as possible and wouldn't mind searching for some items. She mentions that she left out some fried cookies (struvor) because it's too hard to find the proper tools to make them but that's entirely untrue. You can buy rosette irons right here on Amazon.

Finally, I think that a list of sources at the back of the book would have been a great idea. As I mentioned, there are plenty of Swedish specialty shops on the internet where you can get anything from Julmust (Swedish Christmas soda) to lojrom and it's a shame that those things were left out of the book

All in all I really like this book a lot but the fact that some of the recipes have mistakes is a big no-no to me, hence only three stars.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Delicious, easy and unusual recipes! Nov. 2 2004
By J. L. Lundman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I love this book! I received it as a birthday present and, although it is still just over a month til Christmas, I have already made a lot of the recipes in it. There is a photo for each recipe which is always a bonus and the Christmas stories are funny and well-written. The recipes themselves are absolutely delicious! I have just made the allspice ribs, last week I made the gingerbread sponge cake, just so easy to cook and eat! I would recommend this even to those not celebrating Swedish Jul as the recipes are good year round.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Our Swedish Christmas Nov. 30 2007
By George K. Feisel - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having made plans this year to have a Swedish Christmas, this book has proven to be invaluable. While the author presents the traditional way the Swedes celebrate Christmas, i.e., beginning with Advent and continuing until well after Christmas Day, my wife and I have decided we will take the best of the traditions and fold them all into one big day of celebration. Of course, the feature of our celebration will be the Smorgasbord. Many, many recipes are presented that sound both tasty and easy to prepare. Our Swedish Christmas will begin early Christmas Eve Day and will include a visit from the Saint Lucia girl, as played by our granddaughter, with her assortment of special rolls. We even have found a St. Lucia crown for her to wear. Our Smorgasbord table will follow many of the suggestions presented in the book.

For anyone interested in having a Swedish Christmas, this book is highly recommended.
A Swedish Christmas in America Nov. 30 2007
By Kaye Salverda - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not only was the text in this book accurate and helpful, the photography is top notch. I ordered this book for all of my children, so that they can share the content with their families. When they were growing up we observed many of the Swedish Christmas customs. St. Lucia Day, Christmas Eve Dinner. the making of Lefse and Potato Sausage. Each of our children now lives scattered across the United States, only two of them in cities (Minneapolis and Ballard, Washington) where there is a large Swedish population. I love knowing that they will use this book, A Swedish Christmas in America, to pass these customs unto their children, several of them are also teachers, I know that this book will find it's way into their class rooms.
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A delightful Christmas album March 13 2005
By M. G. SFAELLOU - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Since both authors are professional photographers, it is to be expected that the photographs in this book are all excellent and many are artistic. I was in a dilemma as to how many stars I should give to rate this book. As a Christmas album it deserves at least five stars. However, as a book about Christmas customs I would only give it three (therefore on average I give it four).
Firstly, I would like to say that the content of the book is often written in a very warm and readable way and it is full of childhood reminiscences and vivid description. For other readers I must admit, this style might well be preferable. Personally, I had hoped that the book would have had a much greater folklore content (something analogous with Kathleen Stokker's "Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land", 2000). There is a minimal amount of interesting allusions to folk customs. However, they are not described in detail. Moreover, another problem comes from the actual translation into English. A translator should never translate certain words. For instance, on p. 32 there is a reference to the St.Lucia day (Dec. 13th) custom of boys "wearing tall, funnel-shaped hats (like dunce caps)". It would have been nice to have included the actual Swedish name for this cap (some Swedish friends of mine call it a 'strut' or 'cone' but I am not sure if there is a 'proper' name as well?). Swedish is one of the languages I speak and I believe that more Swedish terms would have improved the work and given more local flavour. Similarly, on p.12 there is a reference to the "Advent candelabra" with four candles (one for each week of Advent). Here it should have been explained that this is called an 'adventjusstarka'. Again the ubiquitous "Christmas goat" should also have been given its proper name (julbock). Such a detail is important since the word 'julbock' is very different from the related cognate terms of the Finnish 'joulupukki' (who is Santa himself) and the Norwegian 'julebukking' (which refers to Christmas mumming). Likewise, "Santa's rice pudding" on p. 69 in which there is a hidden almond is called 'risgryngrot' (with an umlaut on the 'o'). This reminds me of the lucky coin hidden in the Greek 'vasilopita' or St. Basil's new year pie). Moreover, the "sheaf of straw" mentioned on p. 44 which is a bundle of oats left outside for the birds is called a 'julkarve'( with an accent on the 'a' and which corresponds to the Norwegian 'julenek'). There are indeed some fascinating references to traditions such as the fortune-telling with lead (molybdomancy) on New Year's day. I also enjoyed the superstitions mentioned in connection with the early church service on Christmas day (on p.121). This service is actually called the 'julottan' - again a word that the authors had neglected to share. There are also several basic details and customs which have not been included. For instance, no mention is made of the lucia buns being called 'lussekatter'(i.e. Lucy cats) and neither is there any mention of the custom of 'kasta julskomme' or throwing a type of braided straw figure (the 'julbock' is just one such type). This custom was performed as a joke on a neighbour's door or as a courting ritual. Another weakness is that the photographs (though beautifully taken) are not labelled. Captions would have been most useful. For instance, I wanted to know the significance (and word for) the oranges that are studded with cloves in photographs on pages 57 and 132. I have met this custom in the Ionian islands where it was called a 'prokado portokali' and it was given to solicit gifts on New Year's day. It is also reminiscent of the Welsh 'calennig'. It should also be mentioned that the book provide many enjoyable recipes (even if the names for these recipes are not supplied) as well as some practical tips about making Christmas crackers and a gingerbread house. The authors have done a great deal of work and, despite my comments (coloured by my own personal taste and preferences), I am sure that this would be the ideal Christmas book for many readers. If you are looking for a beautiful Christmas souvenir from Sweden then it is the perfect gift. For this reason I would actually buy another copy of it for certain friends - however, I could not buy it for any of my colleagues. Dr. M. Sfaellou.