The complete beginner’s guide to Christmas in Denmark

Danish Christmas

Danes love Christmas.

In fact, we like it so much that every day of December is celebrated with food, gifts and countless Christmas parties.

From the 1st of December, most of us have gift calendars consisting of 24 pieces of candy, one for each day before Christmas. And at night, our two big television channels show a Christmas series with 24 episodes; one for children and one for grown-ups.

I wanted to take a photo of my own Christmas calendar, but I ate it.  

This post contains referral links for products I love. Adventurous Miriam earns a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. Thank you for your support ♡ Learn more

CALENDAR CANDLE

Another important part of Christmas in Denmark is the calendar candle which is provided with 24 markings. We lit it every day at the breakfast table from December 1st.

Most families have an Advent wreath as well. It consists of four candles, each of which is lit every one of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. The wreath is made from spruce twigs and decorated with spruce cones, white candles and red ribbons.

Read next: 14 magical things to do in Aarhus in winter

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
Christmas candle

SANTA LUCIA

On the 13th, we celebrate Santa Lucia, the Catholic Saint of Light. This day is celebrated with young girls processing and singing in schools, retirement homes, churches and hospitals. They wear white dresses and hold a candle in their hands. The front girl also wears a crown of candles on her head.

Danish Christmas
Photo by Bengt Nyman

ON CHRISTMAS EVE

I think the specific timing varies from family to family, but on the days leading up to the 24th, we decorate the tree with flags, baubles and a gold star at the top.

Many Danes go to church during the day on the 24th. It’s not because they’re religious; most just enjoy the tradition of singing Danish carols together in church.

Read my post about how we celebrate Christmas Eve in Denmark.

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
The Danish Georg Jensen Christmas decoration
Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
Elling church

Then at 4pm, every Danish child (and me) watch the Disney’s Christmas show. It’s been shown every Christmas Eve for as long as I remember and I love it every time. The show is a 45 minute collection of Disney clips with a surprise cartoon movie at the end.

Danish Christmas
My face when I didn’t get the almond for dinner

DANISH CHRISTMAS DINNER

If you ask me, dinner is the best thing about Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of Danish food in general, but our Christmas food….

It’s A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

Just take a look at it here: The 10 best Danish Christmas foods.

Traditionally, dinner is served at 6pm and it takes days to prepare it. Most Danes eat roast duck with prunes served with red cabbage, boiled and sweet potatoes, beets and cranberry jam. Others eat roast goose or pork instead.

The desert is called risalamande which is cold rice pudding with whipped cream, sugar, vanilla and peeled chopped almonds. According to tradition, one whole almond is hidden in the bowl and the finder gets a present. The fun part is trying to find it and then hide it from everyone else so they keep eating to get it.

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
Risalamande with cherry sauce
Danish Christmas
Risalamande with caramel sauce
Danish Christmas
Naaja was one of the lucky finders
Danish Christmas

DANCING AROUND THE TREE

After dinner we move to the living room where my uncle reads the Christmas gospel from Luke 2; 1-20. After that, we dance around the Christmas tree while singing Christmas carols and hymns.

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
Mom plays the piano

TIME FOR PRESENTS!

After singing 4-5 Christmas songs, it’s time for unwrapping the gifts. In my family, a person is selected to hand over the presents one at a time and then everyone shows what they’ve gotten. Afterwards, we get sweets, fresh fruit and coffee.

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
Some got jewelry
Danish Christmas
Others got an indian head
Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas
True bromance
Danish Christmas

Danish Christmas

So, folks. That’s how we celebrate a traditional Christmas Eve in Denmark. I’d love to hear how you celebrate Christmas. Let’s talk in the comments!

Which Christmas traditions do you have in your country?

You’ll also love

Similar Posts

21 Comments

  1. Our big boss at the office (Country Manager) is a Danish. He is an expat in the Phillippines, and he is a fun-loving person so I have really very positive impression about Danish 🙂

    And the reason why he enjoyed the Christmas season in the Philippines is because we also have the same very special celebration of Christmas. We even start decorating our homes and playing Christmas songs as early as September. LOL!

    It’s good to know that Danish also LOVES Christmas. 🙂 thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. What a coincident, Jon! If you get the chance, say “glædelig jul” to him 🙂 It sounds like the Philippines are similar to Denmark. Do you celebrate Christmas on the 24th as well?

  2. A long time ago, when I lived in Denmark, we made woven paper hearts to fill with sweets and hang on the tree. Cones, too. And wheat ornaments. Also, strands of the little Danish danebro. Do you still use real candles? I still have some of those decorations and put them on my tree here in the US every year!

    1. Ah yes, we do that too. We still use real candles, but always keep a bucket of water next to the tree, though. It sounds exciting that you’ve once called Denmark home. Where did you live?

  3. Oh the food looks so delicious, it just attracted our eyes while reading this post. 😀

    We have very similar traditions to celebrate Christmas in Hungary – including the LOTS of food as well. 😀 But our traditional Christmas dinner is fishsoup, poppy seed pasta and beigli as dessert. And we are so ashamed that neither of us are huge fan of these Christmas meals, so we started to create new traditions in our family… 😀

    As for Santa Lucia we also have a tradition: baking small cakes and hiding coins inside some of them – it was fun to eat them up as kids and compete who will get money. 😀

    1. Oh how fun 🙂 I love creating new traditions and see the small customs that each family have. They make Christmas such a special time. Are you guys spending Christmas in Budapest this year?

      1. Yes, we are spending Christmas in Budapest and currently busy working on preparing everything. We love it though, so no complaints. 😀
        But it’s almost completely sure that we won’t have a white Christmas this year… But definitely more Christmas like weather than our previous Christmas in San Diego. 😀
        Are you staying in Denmark for Christmas? Do you have any snow there?

        1. It’s the same up here in the North. Right now it’s 12 degrees outside and I’m missing the snow! We’ll be fine though as long as we still have the good traditional food 🙂 Merry Christmas.

  4. I have only spent Christmas in Korea and Prague outside of home. Korea is a bit disappointing, but Prague was magical! We plan going to Europe after next year and hopefully will get to spend the holiday months there. Denmark looks like a great place to spend Christmas! The food looks amazing, thanks for sharing!

    1. I can imagine that Christmas in Korea wasn’t as great. Since Christianity is mostly a Western religion, we celebrate it differently than Asians. For me, the perfect Christmas is European… with lots and lots of snow 🙂 I hope you’ll have a white and merry Christmas this year.

  5. Hi,
    Just came across your blog post on 24th December! I work for a Danish company but live in the UK. I most say that Christmas sounds much better in Denmark. Here in the UK Christmas is celebrated on the 25th. Most families don’t have many traditions but Christmas presents are usually opened on the morning of the 25th as Santa visits during the night. Christmas lunch is served early afternoon and is usually turkey.

    I might need to find myself in Denmark at this time next year! Hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Chris! Each Christmas tradition definitely has charm, but I like the Danish way better, too. Today (24th) is the big day, but we keep celebrating the following two days. Tomorrow and the day after is all about eating and spending time with family and loved ones. I hope your Christmas is what you hoped for.

      Hope to see you back here on the blog again.

  6. This December, my sister and I are going to be flying to Denmark to spend the Christmas season with our distant cousins and so I am so excited about Santa Lucia. We will be arriving there on the 12th and so I really hope that we will be able to see the processions of young girls singing. However, who exactly is the Catholic Saint of Light and what does it have to do with Christmas?

    1. Hi Faylinn, I hope you’ll enjoy Denmark. It’s magical during Christmas! If you’re in Copenhagen you can see the biggest Lucia processions in Tivoli and at the city hall square.

      Lucia was a female saint and martyr who is commemorated on Dec. 13th. She doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas, but we celebrate her on this day. Oh, and you should try the lucia bread when you’re here.

  7. I want to thank you for this post. My kid has an assignment on Christmas in Denmark. We are from Puerto Rico, so we know nothing about Denmark. I searched online and your post came up. Everything we needed you explained in this and the additional linked posted. I hope you don’t mind that I used some of your pictures. I was going to ask for permission and it slipped. I would like to apologize for that but also would love to send you a picture of the poster we made with the pictures. Thanks again for the information you shared it was really fun learning about our differences and similarities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *