What says Christmas like duck? Gold skin, that sweet aroma paired with orange-zested stuffing all lying temptingly on your plate. Yum!
Oh wait. I’m supposed to be talking about Donald Duck here. For most of us, the following might seem a little quacky/out of place….but in Sweden, that land far, far, away, Donald Duck is an iconic figure around Christmas time.
Children and adults throughout Sweden tune into a Walt Disney Christmas special at 3.00pm every December 24, to watch a series of Donald Duck and Disney friends like Mickey Mouse and Chip and Dale; most of which don’t even relate to Christmas.
Kalle Anka, which is short for Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (‘Donald Duck and friends wish you a Merry Christmas’), is a television tradition Swedes have been following since 1958, when televisions were new technology in Sweden. The cartoons are extraordinarily outdated, with traditional (yet quaint) mid-century Disney racism and sexism, in some cases dubbed over.
Not only does approximately half the country follow this Christmas eve ritual, but they take it seriously too; rarely do people talk over the top of the show, except to recite favourite lines. No dinner is prepared during the three hour session, nor is one to tape it for later viewing. The entire country’s service and hospitality industry shuts down.
When the STV network on which the program airs threatened to change the scheduling or pre-record the hosts segments (introducing each cartoon), public outcry ensued!
It’s a story like this at this time of year that inspires wonderment at the power of Christmas traditions to bring people together. While Donald Duck might be out of place in snowy Sweden, he binds those Swedes together in a way that Aussies should be jealous of.
I wish I had better advice right now than to go and flip that shrimp on the barbie, eh?
Thanks to sylvar for the Flickr image!