Have you ever celebrated Christmas in Sweden? If you have, you know that we, the odd Swedes, watch Donald Duck on Christmas Eve, a Swedish Christmas tradition going back to 1960.
It all started when Disney, in 1958, aired a Christmas program called ¨From All Of Us To All Of You” on it’s “Wonderful World of Disney” TV show. The program was a collection of Christmas themed animated shorts and selections from feature lengths cartoons hosted by Jiminy Cricket. The following years they added plugs for upcoming releases, one of them was “Robin Hood”, which was absorbed into the show permanently, and has nothing to do with Christmas.
Donald Duck on Christmas Eve in Sweden!!!!! What is that all about? At 3 PM on Christmas Eve in 1960 Swedish television aired it for the first time. The Swedish name of the show is “Kalle Anka Och Hans Vänner Önskar God Jul” which translates; “Donald Duck And His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas”. What might confuse you, if you are reading this, and you are not Swedish, is that in Sweden Donald Duck is the main Disney character and not Mickey Mouse. Another thing I need to add is that in Sweden Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve and not on Christmas day.
According to some resources on the Internet the original airing was dubbed in to Swedish LIVE by a man called Bengt Feldreich (not a Swedish last name by the way), who continues to be the narrating voice to this day. A funny thing with the dubbing is that he is not translating what is actually said in the cartoons, but explaining what is going on, and the viewer can still here the american voices of the characters in the background. Bengt Feldreich also sings the Swedish version of “When You Wish Upon A Star”, which as a kind of dubbing of Jiminy Cricket singing it.
Since the Christmas of 1960 Swedish Christmas celebrators have joined in front of the TV, at 3 PM sharp for over 50 years. The same time, and the same channel, and up till the year 2002 with the same presenter Arne Weise, who finally stopped due to age and health issues.
An interesting part of all this is that after so many years of airing this show, there were some “threats” about not airing it any more, with led to a lot of dismay and anger among the Swedish viewers. One very important unwritten rule is: “YOU DO NOT TAPE “Kalle Anka”.
Sweden has a population of about 9 million people and out of all those about 3,5 – 4 million people watch the show every year.
This is by far, one of Sweden’s most important Christmas traditions, and an important tradition, that adults who where children during the 60s, 70s and even 80s have find a lot of joy in and therefore want to pass it on to their own kids.
To end this blog post I have to say (even though I don’t watch the show any more) it is difficult to describe this tradition in a way that makes sense to you who are not Swedish, and to explain how much a part of Swedish Culture Donald Duck is. It is something that has to be experienced and as an outsider, you will probably not even enjoy, nor understand it, the first time. It is something you have to get accustomed to.
Here’s a clip from the intro to the show, probably aired in the 70s. This is one of the rare occasions where Arne Weise is not the presenter.
Here’s a clip from the original “From All Of Us To All Of You” which was aired in 1958. You’re missing out on the Swedish “dubbing”…sorry about that 😉
On YouTube you can find clips from both the original show aired in the US 1958 and clips from the Swedish version.