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Donald Duck: A Swedish Christmas Tradition

Watching Donald Duck is a Swedish Christmas Tradition

Every Christmas Eve, at 3 o´clock, over three million Swedes gather in front of their TVs to enjoy an hour of Disney cartoons. In fact, it has been the most viewed programme in Sweden for the last three years, and since 1994 it has been the most viewed programme of the year nine times, having never dipped below fourth best. To put this viewership in perspective, keep in mind that Sweden has a population of roughly 10 million.

The programme, in English called `From All of Us to All of You´, was originally broadcast in 1958 as an episode of the TV show `The Wonderful World of Disney´ and is in Sweden known as `Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul´ (Donald Duck and His Friends Wish you a Merry Christmas) and has been shown every Christmas Eve in Sweden since 1960.  The programme uses voice-over translation, instead of just directly translating everything into Swedish, and the Swedish voices are done by Bengt Feldreich, who sadly passed away in 2019, meaning that any new clips will from now on have to be introduced by someone else.

The format of the show has remained virtually unchanged from 1983. It is presented by Jiminy Cricket and features several full cartoons as well as scenes from various Disney movies, such as `Cinderella´, `Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs´, `The Jungle Book´ and many other. Apart from these regulars, the programme these days also feature snippets from new or soon to be released animated Disney movies.

There has, however, been some controversy through the years, perhaps most notably the criticism and removal of racist segments from the older cartoons. Any attempts to change the format have also been met with heavy resistance, like when the broadcaster removed `Ferdinand the Bull´ from the programme in 1982. The backlash was so great that the scene had to be broadcast immediately after the programme ended.

In Sweden, the show is colloquially known as `Kalle Ankas Jul´ or just `Kalle Anka´, and while it is a staple in Swedish Christmas celebrations, it can appear very strange for the uninitiated.

“It was so weird to see all these people, children and grandparents alike, gather around the TV fully focused on a series of cartoons! It´s a fun tradition but very unexpected”, says Mara Garcia, who spent Christmas in Sweden with her Swedish boyfriend.

“It felt odd that watching TV was such a big part of Christmas; in Mexico, we never even turn on the TV”, she says, and adds that, “my boyfriend said the only way I could offend anyone was by making fun of `Kalle Anka´!”.

Click here to watch the full programme!


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