Christmas has ben associated with festive drinking since the time of the late Roman Empire and every nation that celebrates Christmas brings to it its own favourite Christmas beverage. In England the wassail bowl was full at Christmas with ale, roasted apples and spices, served hot. In Scandinavia the beer drinking that had accompanied heathen Yule observances was “christened” and it became obligatory to brew beer for Christmas. Drinking was dedicated to Christ and the Virgin Mary with prayers for a good new year. When the barley crop failed, the obligation to brew could be hard on famers but penalties were stiff. If a farmer did not brew Christmas beer for three years in a row, he could lose his farm.
In modern Scandinavia, Christmas beers have made a comeback. Laws in Norway and Sweden that had mandated all liquor to be sold through government stores had discouraged the brewing of seasonal beer but the past few decades have seen dozens of Christmas ales on the shelves.