Cluster analysis of Christmas 2018

The Nordic Nightmare before Christmas: have we failed to integrate Christmas traditions?

Risalamande, luumukiisseli, malt og appelsin, gløgg, julmust, Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul, Home Alone and The Nightmare before Christmas are dishes, drinks and movies that are part of the Christmas season traditions in the Nordic Region. Nordregio, with a little help from Santa, has done a very thorough study across the Nordic Region on Christmas traditions and one observation is quite striking: the Nordic Christmas traditions are very country-specific and not integrated at all!

Indeed, zooming-in at the regional level, there is not much variation within a country on how people spend their Christmas. In Norway for instance, pepparkakor and Julmust seem to be quite popular in all the regions, but there are differences among the favourite movies: Home Alone is the most searched movie in seven regions, including the newest administrative region of Trøndelag. The eight other regions of Norway, as well as Gotland and Österbotten, prefer Kalle Anka to accompany pepparkakor and Julmust.

In Finland, Christmas seems to be connected to glögi and either rice pudding or Christmas cake. However, the main difference when compared the other parts of the Nordic Region is the favourite movie: Christmas comedies and romantic movies in Finland do not seem to be as popular as dark fantasy Christmas movies such as Rare Exports or The Nightmare before Christmas.

In Åland, Sweden and Denmark, the large majority of regions highlight a preference for Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul along with snaps. The main difference is in the Christmas treat: risalamande in Denmark and pepparkakor in Sweden and Åland.

Note that a number of administrative regions have a balanced Christmas profile, i.e. no specific dish, drink or movie is significantly above the Nordic average. It can be explained by a relatively significant mix of citizens from different parts of the Nordic Region. This is, for instance, the case in the Greater Copenhagen area as well as in Stockholm, a sign of true Nordic Christmas integration.

We have undertaken a thorough data collection (Google Trends) and analysis; indexes were created from 0 to 100 and a cluster analysis method used to group everything into classes. Santa’s estimates were used to cover some missing data. Nordregio works hard on the Nordic cooperation and integration programs but facts speak for themselves. Each class of the map is composed by a number of administrative regions characterised by a consumption of Christmas treats, drinks and movies above the Nordic average. For instance, the Danish region of Midtjylland is characterised by an interest in rice pudding (i.e. risalamande), snaps and Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul (i.e. Disney Juleshow) that is above the average interest in the Nordic Region.