A Very Disney Christmas in Sweden

kalle ankaThe people of Sweden really love Donald Duck, or Kalle Anka as he's called.  They are especially enamored of the duck's comic antics during the Christmas season, as the country pretty much shuts down for an hour on Christmas Eve to watch the 1958 Walt Disney Presents Christmas television special, "From All of Us to All of You."

The special features a bunch of cartoons, snippets from feature Disney films, and promos for new projects, and while only a small fraction of the content is holiday-related, half the country tunes in every year as a tradition.

Slate's Jeremy Stahl experienced the cultural phenomenon firsthand:
The show's cultural significance cannot be understated. You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. Age does not matter—every member of the family is expected to sit quietly together and watch a program that generations of Swedes have been watching for 50 years. Most families plan their entire Christmas around Kalle Anka, from the Smörgåsbord at lunch to the post-Kalle visit from Jultomten. "At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, you can't to do anything else, because Sweden is closed," Lena Kättström Höök, a curator at the Nordic Museum who manages the "Traditions" exhibit, told me. "So even if you don't want to watch it yourself, you can't call anyone else or do anything else, because no one will do it with you."

Any time someone tries to modify the tradition, by even so much as recording the presenter's lines so he can spend the day with his family, the public gets wind of it and revolts until normalcy is restored.  Head over to Slate and read the full, fascinating article.

Link (via Bifurcated Rivets)  Image: Serieforlaget AB

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When I lived in Sweden, I only watched this as a kid. When I had grown up, I was so bored of it I couldn't bear to see it again. This is not being watched at all in Finland. In fact, it's not even aired here. Some swedish speaking regions can get swedish tv channels though, and a minor part of those people do watch Kalle Anka.
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I watch Kalle Anka och hans vänner,donald Duck and his friends, as a tradition from my youth when we had only one TV-channel and this program was the only cartoons you saw on tv. Listen , it`s true, one channel, no cartoons..the rest of the year...And i`m born 1961, not 1931.. On Newyears eve i watch the same program as in the germanspeaking country`, didn`t know they had that tradition. But that`s a given, at around 20.00 i`m glued to the tv..."i`ll kill that cat" HAHAHA!!
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Aah, just came from The Disney Christmas special on tv here in Sweden.

That's how we prioritize, first Kalle Anka, then Neatorama :D

PS: My girlfriend forced me to watch it. I swear.
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Perhaps the Swedes' long standing record of neutrality (aside from their awesomely titled "armed neutrality" phase in the late 30s) can be observed as outside of the rest of the western world's experience? I find the tradition charming and neat, and the rigid enforcement of the same thing every year reminds me of watching Rudolph with similar reverence.
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