I love tradition. To me, the holidays seem at their best when tradition is placed front and center. And, growing up, the traditions I adored the most were the ones that found their roots in our Swedish heritage. Each year, the Christmas season was ushered in with the Santa Lucia festival, complete with songs sung entirely in Swedish as well as dancing, prancing little tomten (Sweden's charming take on Santa Claus). Soon to follow was the delightful baking of the Scandinavian treats we waited for all year. The smell and taste of homemade cardamom bread and spritz cookies left little doubt that the holiday season had arrived. And, on Christmas day itself, Swedish meatballs, korv, lingonberries, and rice pudding were amongst the honored guests of our Swedish smorgasbord. The rice pudding, besides being a tradition simply because of its presence, also held a traditional surprise. Somewhere admidst the creamy custard, an almond had been baked inside. The recipient of this fortunate almond was, according to tradition, destined to be the next to find themselves married.
As I look over the words I've just written, I am charmed by these customs simply in the reading of them. Even had they not been my own childhood memories, I believe I would still find them altogether lovely and enchanting. There is just something rather magical about such things, for it's these traditions that have a way of marking our lives and bridging generations and bringing us together year after year. Truly magical indeed.