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.
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.
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.
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.
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 DINNER
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.