Published: 17-03-2010, 08:43


Julklapp is the Swedish term for a Christmas GIFT. The term “Julk-lapp” literally means “Christmas knock.” This name comes from an old Swedish custom whereby Christmas gift givers would knock on doors, toss in their gift, and run away. These mysterious packages might also be delivered by the YULE GOAT.
In previous eras, Scandinavians exchanged important gifts on New Year’s Day. They treated Christmas Eve as an occasion only for small or token gifts. In Sweden these small gifts, or Julklapp, became vehicles for seasonal fun and GAMES. The gift giver tried to keep his or her identity a secret by hurrying away. Nevertheless, givers often wrote a dedication on the WRAPPING PAPER, which could offer clues to their identity. These dedications teased recipients in a few lines of rhyming verse. Sometimes gift givers hid the real gift inside something of lesser value. For example, they might insert a gold ring inside a small cake.
At other times they confounded recipients with trick packaging. A series of boxes might be wrapped one inside the next. The final box might contain directions to the location of the actual present. The more time people spent on figuring out the puzzles presented by the Julklapp, the more successful the gift was considered to be.
The Swedes still refer to Christmas presents as Julklapp. Even though most of the old customs surrounding the gifts have disappeared, they still enjoy sending rhymed verse along with their Christmas gifts. The rhymes usually needle the recipient about some past action or character flaw. Sometimes they take the form of a riddle about the gift itself. The good humor generated by these rhymes is an integral part of the Christmas gift. (See also ST. NICHOLAS’S DAY.)