If you happen to find yourself in Sweden for Christmas time, it might not hurt to learn how to say "Merry Christmas" in Swedish, which is God Jul. Although most Swedes can speak English, it is nice to make an attempt to defer to the language of the region, if you know the words.
While you are at it, learn how to say the popular holiday greeting in the other languages from the Nordic region.
"Merry Christmas" in Nordic Area Languages
If you are in Scandinavia or the Nordic region, most people from the area are multilingual or hail from neighboring countries, it cannot hurt to know how to say, "Merry Christmas" in multiple languages.
|Language||"Merry Christmas" Greeting|
|Norwegian||God Jul or Gledelig Jul|
|Danish||God Jul or Glaedelig Jul|
Most Nordic Languages Are Related
If you notice from the greeting for Merry Christmas, most of the countries, with the exception of Finland, look and sound very similar. This similarity is because those languages share a common language branch. They are referred to as Scandinavian or the North Germanic branch that stems from the Germanic family.
What makes Finland unique from the other Nordic area languages is that its language aligns more with the Finn-Uralic family of languages. Finnish is more closely related to Estonian and lesser-known languages spoken around the Baltic Sea.
English Is Related to Swedish
English is also a Germanic language. In fact, if you look at the Swedish words, God Jul, you might notice how closely related the words, "Good Yule," are to English—they have the same meaning.
In fact, Swedish and English share about 1,500 words. Examples include the words, accent, digital, and salt. However, Swedish people learning English must beware of “false friends." This term means words that are words spelled the same as English words, but with different meanings. For example, the Swedish word bra, which means “good,” and “glass,” which means “ice cream.”
Like English, Swedish uses the Latin alphabet, with the addition of three vowels with diacritics (a sign, such as an accent or cedilla, written above or below a letter to mark a difference in pronunciation). These are å, ä, and ö.
Swedish sentence structure, like English, tends to be subject-verb-object based. That means when a Swedish person speaks in broken English, you can still get the gist of what they are saying.
Useful Phrases in Nordic Languages
If you are traveling in the region, it is always practical to know a few important phrases as a traveler—not just Christmas lingo, but useful expressions such as greetings, numbers, or travel words.
- Useful Danish Phrases
- Useful Swedish Phrases
- Useful Norwegian Phrases
- Useful Icelandic Phrases
- Useful Finnish Phrases
Common Christmas Traditions in Sweden
Christmas celebrations in Sweden begin on St. Lucia Day on December 13 and continues with candlelight church processions up through Christmas Eve. Many iconic Christmas items familiar to Americans are also on display in Sweden—Christmas trees, amaryllis flowers, and plenty of gingerbread.