Danish Christmas traditions – counting down to Christmas – day 7
Being a foreigner obviously has its pluses and minuses. But for sure one of the pluses is that you can celebrate way more traditions. Yesterday I shared some of the Polish Christmas Eve traditions, so today I will tell more about how you are getting into the Christmas mood in Denmark. And by the way, when preparing for those posts, I spent some really nice time discussing these traditions. It is interesting to hear about how many different traditions each family cultivates.
Let’s look at some of the Danish Christmas traditions.
1. Calendar light
From the 1st of December to the 24th of December you should light this candle so the particular number of the day is burnt. It is nice tradition which prompts you to light a candle everyday. We have a candle that we bought 3 years ago and it still has some days to go. We are just not very good at lighting it up, or maybe we just like this one too much 😉
2. Christmas tv calendar shows
I haven’t seen it myself, but I’ve heard that many families follow it. It is a series of 24 episodes. Each year there is some new shows. There are a few shows that has been shown for more than 25 years (first released in 1991).
Gift wishlists are very common. It is almost like writing a letter to Santa, with that difference that you know who actually bought the gift for you. Also, it is accepted to say that you would like to return the gift, because it is not exactly what you wanted. Easy peasy.
4. Advent presents
In some families you give gifts for children every Sunday counting from 1st of December to 24th.
On the first Friday of November there is a big celebration of Christmas beer (Tuborg Julebryg) that started in 1990. This is when Tuborg (Danish beer company) releases the Christmas brew. It happens at exactly 8:59p.m. That day people meet in bars and there is a lot of places where you can have a good party. An interesting fact is that the beer is only available for 7 weeks per year but it is the 4th best selling beer in Denmark on annual basis.
6. Christmas treats
There are also particular treats that you can find in the shops only for the Christmas period. That includes pebernødder, vanilla cookies, and honey hearts. Furthermore, marcipan is used in a variety of candies during the Christmas time.
It is also very common to drink warm sweet red wine with delicacies, including raisins and almonds. It is perfect for a walk around the city during a cold evening.
Which is directly translated to Christmas lunch. But don’t be mistaken, it is a name for a Christmas dinner with your friends or colleagues.
A Christmas dinner (julefrokost, not the dinner on the 24th) traditionally contains a number of dishes, such as herring, frikadeller (meat balls), fish fillets, and warm leverpostej (a kind of liver paté).
9. Christmas Eve
It is celebrated 24th of December together with family. Normally families meet in the afternoon to finish up the preparations before sitting down at the dinner table.
Traditionally one of the following meats are served as the main course: flæskesteg (a Danish version of roasted pork), duck, or turkey. This is often served together with sweet potatoes and brown sauce.
Snaps is an alcohol that is consumed in Denmark during Christmas, essentially at every julefrokost (Christmas dinner). It goes particularly well with a bread with herring 🙂
Many types of Snaps are available but there is also a yearly special edition. Each year has a new bottle and packaging.
Fun fact is that this year, one brewery accidentally produced a number of Snaps where the alcohol percentage was twice of the declared. While people were raving to get it, they had to stop all sales and ask people to return or destroy it. Not because it was a bad product, but simply because the manufacturer would have to pay a much higher tax on it based on the actual alcohol percentage.
11. The one with almond wins
As a dessert for the Christmas Eve dinner you get this thing called Risalamande, which is actually a French name although the dish is unknown in France. It is a dessert based on rice. The funny part about it is that there is an almond hidden in the bowl with it and the person who finds it, wins a gift. You can imagine, how funny it is to see people innocently fishing for it or putting a lot of it on their plates to increase their chances.
12. Dance around the Christmas tree
After the Christmas Eve dinner, people gather together around the Christmas tree, hold their hands and in a slow walk around the Christmas tree sing Christmas carols. This is a very exhausting tradition for children since they will have to wait until after this before the gifts are opened.
Is there anything that surprised you about Danish traditions? If so, let me know in the comments below.