Swedish Church Christmas Fair

As you may have gathered, I’m half English and half Swedish, and most of the time I don’t feel I belong more to one or the other. However, sometimes one nationality takes over completely, like for instance this weekend, when I was at the Swedish Church’s annual Christmas Fair and felt totally Swedish!

I’ve been told there are more than 10,000 Swedes in England and I think the majority live in London. And for one weekend of the year, most of them descend on the Swedish Church in Harcourt Street, not far from Edgware Road, to attend the Fair.  In the past I’ve gone to this event in order to stock up on all the necessary Swedish Xmas essentials like pickled herring, bread, cheese, mulled wine, candles and decorations of various kinds.  And each time I’ve thought to myself that I really ought to help out – well, this year I finally did!

Dressed in my regional costume (most regions of Sweden have their own variation on a ‘national’ outfit), I arrived at the church on the Thursday morning, not quite knowing what to expect, but I was very lucky and was assigned to the Tornedal stand (Tornedalsståndet) where the lovely proprietors Stefan and Christer put me to work.  (On the Saturday and Sunday we were also joined by their friend Torgny).  We were selling Swedish delicacies, such as reindeer and elk sausage, smoked reindeer meat, ‘gravad lax’ (marinated salmon), ‘löjrom’ (special caviar) and blue cheese (Jarse Ost) handmade by a lady in the north of Sweden.  It was great fun!

The fair was organised by two fantastically efficient ladies – Camilla and Åsa – and I was in awe of their organising abilities and eye for detail.  Everything ran like clockwork!  The selection of things to buy was amazing and I have to admit I spent quite a lot of money myself, not least in the upstairs café where I found cinnamon and saffron buns, and other cake treats (best not to mention how many I had!).  Everyone had worked extremely hard to make this all happen and I take my hat off to them, it was very well done!

Torgny, Christer and Stefan

The Swedish church is a ‘home from home’ for Swedes in London and they do so much good for the community.  I’m really pleased to have been able to help a little bit this year and will definitely go back again next year – in fact, I can’t wait!  If you’ve never been, please come next time, I promise you’ll love it!

Regional costumes from the county of Dalarna

Food stall outside the church

Stalls inside

The lovely Camilla

Me with new friend Lucky

Variations in regional costume

13 Comments

  1. Wow – the fair looked amazing and I love your traditional costume. I’m not sure about the reindeer sausage though..

    Comment by Kathryn Freeman — November 25, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

  2. Sounds wonderful. Maybe I should time my next trip when the Swedish Church fair is on. Love the costume.

    Comment by Tina Brown — November 25, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  3. Looks wonderful – would love to be in London when this is on sometime!

    Comment by Angela Britnell — November 25, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  4. Thanks Kathryn! I’m not overfond of sausages either, but the smoked reindeer meat is delicious 🙂

    Comment by Christina Courtenay — November 25, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

  5. Tina – absolutely! You really should come this time of year, then you can stay on for a really cold Christmas!

    Angela – you too! 🙂

    Comment by Christina Courtenay — November 25, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

  6. Loving the costume, Pia. Did you know you were posing with a TV star – https://www.facebook.com/LuckyChihuahua?

    Comment by Catriona — November 25, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  7. I love the costumes, and it looks a lovely building. Do you know how old it is? Saffron buns, I have never tried them, they sound nice.
    It’s great to do something completely different. Glad you enjoyed it.
    Lorraine x

    Comment by Lorraine — November 25, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  8. The costumes are similar to Norwegian ones – my grandmother was Norwegian, and when I was a child she have me a costume, with a long black skirt, white blouse and apron both decorated with Hardanger work, and a red waistcoat, red belt, hat and what I think is called a stomacher. These last three are decorated with beads. I no longer have the skirt, and at some stage in my teenage years I cut the lace off the apron and blouse (I know, sacrilege!) but I still have those bite of Hardamger lace, folded away with the red hat etc.

    Comment by Christine Harding — November 26, 2013 @ 8:32 am

  9. Catri – no, I had no idea! He was so sweet and seemed to like reindeer meat 🙂

    Comment by Christina Courtenay — November 26, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

  10. Lorraine – I think it was built some time during the mid 1700s. The church is above the church hall, sort of on the first floor, which is very unusual, but makes for a great space underneath. Saffron buns – you must try them, they are wonderful! Email me if you want the recipe 🙂

    Comment by Christina Courtenay — November 26, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  11. Christine – that sounds lovely! And yes, the Norwegian and Swedish costumes are similar and there is such great variety. You’ll have to replace the bits you’re missing 🙂

    Comment by Christina Courtenay — November 26, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

  12. That is so cool! Having never experienced Swedish delights or customs your photographs are really exciting. I hope to be able to experience it myself one day.

    Comment by Chanpreet — November 27, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

  13. Thank you, Chanpreet, I’m glad you liked them!

    Comment by Christina Courtenay — November 28, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

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