First published in Nordstjernan on Nov. 25, 2004 (slightly modified):
When you light your candle for the second Sunday in Advent (which is today), you will know it is time to really get the holiday preparations started.
If you have leftover pepparkaksdeg (yes, the dough lasts for up to a week in the fridge), now is the time to bake your pepparkakshus - a gingerbread house. You can create your own model or use a pre-designed house - whichever you choose, it's important to decorate with lots of icing and M&Ms, or if possible, the Swedish Nonstop candy.
Depending on the effiency of your local post office, the second of Advent is also a good time to start writing and sending your Christmas cards. In Sweden, favorite motifs are old-fashioned cards consisting of hand-drawn paintings from famous artists depicting snow, Santa, Santa's little elves and a lot of candlelight.
On Dec. 9, it's Anna's day in the calendar (each calendar day has its own name, sometimes more than one). This is when you start preparing the lutfisk by soaking it in water. Nowadays, most stores offer pre-soaked fish, but if you choose to do it the old-fashioned way, now is the time to start.
Of course, you need to start shopping for gifts as well. The time left until Christmas is quickly disappearing, and there is still a lot to do - especially with Lucia coming up next weekend. The most important rule to remember, however, is this: No munching on the gingerbread house until after Christmas!