One of the most Swedish of traditions is the infamous Kalle Anka or Donald Duck TV program at 3 pm Christmas Eve. When I used to come to Sweden as a kid, I was convinced Kalle Anke was some form of parental trickery. The equivalent of having Grandma take us to the movies on Christmas Eve, to get our crazy energy out of the house so the parents could make all the Christmas preparations. It wasn't until I attended my first Swedish Christmas with my husband that I realized that pretty much every household sits down to watch Kalle Anke on Christmas Eve. Parents and kids included.
Kalle Anke – as Donald is known in Swedish – is an ensamble of Disney cartoons from early days – to current films – with a somewhat Christmas theme. There are some standards – Donald, Mickey and Goofy going on vacation in a motor home or Donald duck going bird hunting – and then there are some rotating ones – Beauty and the Beast, or The Princess and the Frog. Every year someone notices small clips have been cut, and we theorize that it has to do with changing Swedish attitudes on violence or gender roles (because we have heard about the horrors of Donald Duck's gender roles), but really I think it is just a time issue. Kalle Anke is always only one hour long.
What can I say, we still have a few years left where we don't have to arrive at the Christmas Eve party by 3 pm to catch Kalle. Our LO hasn't learned about the Kalle Anke tradition yet. And this is a good thing. Because the BEST time to hit the road on Christmas eve is 2:45pm. The highways are empty. The roads are clear. There is no Christmas traffic. It's pretty much just us immigrants out there. And as much as they try to tell you - there really aren't THAT many of us.
The Swede's family live about an hour away, and we often stumble in just in time to catch the modern additions to Kalle Anke, the ones everyone complains about anyway – while we sip our Glogg. I have visions of convincing the Swedish fam that you can record the Kalle Anke and watch it one hour later, to continue this traffic friendly tradition, but I don't see that happening. Because Kalle Anke is to be watched at 3 pm. Punkt slut. (and no that's nothing about a punk slut, that means 'period or full stop' as the Brits say).