Donald Duck Wishes You A God Jul

In Sweden, about 40 percent of the country gathers round the television on Christmas Eve—to watch Donald Duck.

Every Christmas Even since 1959, the 1958 special Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (Donald Duck and His Friends Wish You a Merry Christmas, in English) is screened on Sweden’s main public television channel, TV1 at 3:00 p.m. This hour of Disney pandemonium is hosted by Jiminy Cricket. It is known to us as From All of Us to All of You. Jiminy leads viewers through about a dozen “Christmas cards” that open to reveal shorts, film clips and other cartoons. Swedes are so compelled by the cartoon that during the program, cell data usage and calls to emergency servicesdropped significantly.

But there are a few twists that come with the show. A host appears live during the showing and plays the role of Uncle Walt. Jeremy Stahl of Slate wrote:

The show’s cultural significance cannot be understated. You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. Age does not matter—every member of the family is expected to sit quietly together and watch a program that generations of Swedes have been watching for 50 years. Most families plan their entire Christmas around Kalle Anka, from the Smörgåsbord at lunch to the post-Kalle visit from Jultomten. “At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, you can’t to do anything else, because Sweden is closed,” Lena Kättström Höök, a curator at the Nordic Museum who manages the “Traditions” exhibit, told me. “So even if you don’t want to watch it yourself, you can’t call anyone else or do anything else, because no one will do it with you.”

So while it may be our tradition to gather by a roaring fireplace (or a simulated log fire on the television) on Christmas Eve – you could say that Donald Duck and his friends are the television log fire of Sweden.

You can watch From All of Us to All of You here: