Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Eve in Sweden: "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!"

by Pa Rock
Cultural Observer

This quacks me up!

The Swedes celebrate the Christmas holiday on December 24th, Christmas Eve. Since 1959, a big part of the holiday celebration for millions of Swedes is to sit down in front of their televisions at precisely 3:00 p.m. to watch a very special television special. The show is commonly referred to as "Kalle Anka och hans vanner onskar God Jul!", or, in plain English, "Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas!"

Kalle Anka runs commercial-free on Sweden's TV 1 each Christmas Eve, and it is one of the three most watched television programs of the year. Estimates are that between forty and fifty percent of the nation's population watch the one-hour special. Kalle Anka features Jiminy Cricket as he presents a dozen Disney cartoons and clips from some of the more famous Disney animated movies.

As evidence that Kalle Anka is heading toward cult status, many people like to quote dialogue from the program. Also, there is a political movement in Sweden called the Kalle Anka-partiet or The Donald Duck Party. The Kalle Anka-partiet has garnered as many as 1,500 write-in votes in some elections. Their political platform calls for "free liquor and wider sidewalks!"

So while Donald may play second fiddle to Mickey Mouse in the United States, he is definitely the star in Sweden!


bK in MO said...

You have to be joking, right? This was a parody of The Onion, right?

Mike Box said...

The tradition began around 1960 when Sweden had only one television network. Donald Duck's hapless adventure is consistent with the Swede's of gathering on Christmas Eve around the hearth and entertaining the family with fairy tales.

In the 1970's STV had notions of running commercials with, or not running, Kalle Anka. Public outcry put that to a stop. Swedes pulled the plug on commercializing Christmas.

The tradition looks down on vcr's or other delayed viewing practices. This has had harsh consequences for the performers who had to give of their family time for the good of the nation.

No one ever attacks Sweden, a neutral country, so national security is not affected by this quaint tradition.

My Great Grandmother, who came to America from Sweden when she was sixteen, would be so proud.