Sweden is known for its egalitarianism and openness. So as the refugee crisis and immigration flows have thrust Europeans into divisive debates about national identity, the Swedes have chosen a 25-year-old Muslim woman to host a Christmas Eve special on public television.
This is not just any TV program that Gina Dirawi, a Swedish broadcaster of Palestinian descent, will present. Tomorrow, as the world gathers around fireplaces and fir trees, Swedes will crowd around their television sets to tune into a program they've been watching since 1959.
The julvard, or Christmas host, serves as emcee for the seven-hour event, much like Dick Clark's hosting of US New Year's Eve coverage. It kicks off at 2:55 p.m. on the 24th, the main day of Christmas celebration in Sweden, with the host introducing the the 1958 Walt Disney Christmas special "Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul" ("Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas").