Homemade candy is an irresistible draw at most Christmas markets. This candy stand was at the Saluhallen Christmas market. Saluhallen is a marketing hall famous for good cuts of meat and specialty cheeses, year round.

One of my most favourite things to do during the Christmas season in Sweden is to explore the various Christmas markets around the city center. Gothenburg city has about five or six major markets to explore, all within walking distance from each other, and you can spend an entire day hopping from one Christmas market or julmarknad to the other in exploration.

A selection of festively delicious buns and cookies, found at the Haga Christmas market in Gothenburg.

Every year, almost the same vendors turn up at the same Christmas markets and it is in this settled pattern that you’ll find comfort since you’ll know exactly where to go to get your favourite Christmas foods, your wrapping paper or that cup of glögg that tastes just so.

Heart shaped gingerbread cookies make a complimentary accompaniment to a warm cup of glögg.

The breads, cookies and custard filled buns at the Haga market, located near the Gothenburg School of Business and in the middle of Gothenburg’s ‘old city’ or gamlestan, is soul comforting in their generous portions. In fact, cafés located along Haga are known to serve one of the largest cinnamon rolls in town during the summer season. At this outdoor market in Haga this season, glögg is often sold along the streets and any of these baked buns would make a perfect accompaniment to a cup of warm glögg.

Gingerbread cookies are a favourite of the season. Though sold all year round in the local supermarkets, their all spice flavour is special during this season and you can see people roam the markets with a handful of such cookies to their cup of glögg.

The peeking eyes of a helpful farm elf, or a Tomte. In Nordic folklore, these tiny mythical creatures are there to help around the house and make sure that things run safe and smooth, provided that you are kind to your animals. Otherwise the animals will tell on you and the house elves will leave you to take care of everything yourself. They are shy creatures and rarely show themselves. Once a year at Christmas you are supposed to show your appreciation by putting out one dish of food outdoors on the ground. And sure enough, the food will be gone. Try it yourself and see, maybe you’ve got house elves too

Along with food stores, you’ll find stores that sell handicrafts. At the Haga Christmas market, you can pick up a Swedish or Scandinavian Tomte. In Nordic folklore, a Christmas elf is perhaps also the same garden elf that usually dons a red hat, who helps around in the garden and the house. About two feet high, usually with long white beards, these elves or tomtar are known to be shy creatures who show themselves reluctantly, but are there nonetheless to mostly help around.

A big draw for me at these Christmas markets is the homemade candies that come in a splendid array of sorts. Everything from coconut covered chocolate balls to marmalade candy and liquorice sticks. When in Gothenburg, I believe the candy store at Kronhuset, just beyond Gustav Adolfs Torg gives one the closest experience to being in a chocolate factory. A chocolate fountain stands in the middle of the small shop, where children are allowed to dip their fingers into the flowing chocolate for a taste. The staff there are often friendly and helpful when making a purchase, and will fill you out on the details of the different types of chocolate fillings, marzipan or custard used in their candies, so that you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for.

A selection of candy we went home with, for the candy basket.

Grabbing a basket full of candy was an enjoyable event in itself. Walking around these Christmas markets, you’re generally caught up in the festive mood of it all. The cobbled streets, the crowd and the smell of glögg is intoxicating, and it is these that make wandering around the Christmas markets something to look forward to every year.

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