“Every year since 1959, at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the 1958 special Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas, in English) is screened on Sweden’s main public television channel, TV1. Known in English as From All of Us to All of You, this hour of Disney mayhem is hosted by Jiminy Cricket, who leads viewers through about a dozen “Christmas cards” that open to reveal shorts, film clips and other cartoons dating from the 1930s through the 1950s (most having nothing to do with Christmas). For decades Sweden only had two channels, and this was the only time of year when people could watch Disney animation or American cartoons on television.
““The show’s cultural significance cannot be understated,” writes Slate’s Jeremy Stahl, who watches the show with his wife’s Swedish family. “You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka.” The viewers’ silence is only broken for the recitation of favorite lines or eruptions of laughter.
“And so the soft, angry glow of a barely intelligible duck has assumed the role of the fire around which people have long gathered to hear, once again, stories that they’ve heard a hundred times before. “It’s not really that the films are so good,” Charlotte Hagstrom, a professor of ethnology at Lund University, told NPR. “It’s more like it’s a ritual to sit down with your family every year at the same time watching the same films.”“
Let me restate that except for the contractual obligation to have one slot set aside for a new Disney release, they watch the Exact Same Show of old Disney cartoons put together in 1958. According to several sources 40-50% of Swedes are watching every year, as has Lill every year of her life. As did we!
We ate crackers and roasted whole garlic and a garlic spread while we watched Donald et al and enjoyed champagne. Our dinner menu included four kinds of pickled herring with perfectly cold and extremely delicious aquavit. We also had gravlox and sardines. We had boiled potatoes and three kinds of crackers and bread. There was wine, a plate of Swedish sausage, cucumber, and tomato, and the cheese I remember from Sweden. Also(!) we had prime rib and two kinds of scalloped potatoes, one with anchovies mixed in. There were Swedish meatballs and mini-sausages and not to forget the hard-boiled eggs with caviar. OMG YUM.