A Very Danish Christmas

Posted: December 26, 2010 in Categorized
Tags: , , , ,

The whole month of December has felt like such a big preparation for Christmas day!  Some Danes also honor, what is called the “Advent” (pronounced El-vent in Danish), where the four Sundays leading up to Christmas there was a small gift to open.  All the streets were decorated with Christmas lights and other festive decorations such as stars or reindeer.  There was just so much of a vibe that Christmas was in the air.

So on Christmas day (celebrated December 24th here), we went to Frederik’s (one of my Danish roommates) house at around 3pm. Usually his family goes to church but there was also a broadcasted church showing that came on around 4pm. So the family sat in the living room and watched the televised church show, while we ate cookies and candies with tea and coffee. Before coming to the Christmas dinner, I even baked Cinnamon Roll cookies for everyone and I think everyone loved them! Well after the church show, we all just socialized and watched a bit of television.

Then EXACTLY at 6pm, dinner was ready and we began to eat. I stressed the 6pm, because apparently at 6pm EVERYONE in Denmark is having Christmas and usually eating the EXACT same thing, EVERY year without many divergences.

Dinner was as follows:
Flæskesteg (Roasted Pork Loin with a crackling top layer)
Andesteg (Roasted Duck, usually cooked with apple and prune stuffing)
Brun Sovs (A traditional dark gravy made from the meat drippings and used to cover the pork, duck, and boiled potatoes)
Boiled White Potatoes
Brunede kartofler – Potatoes cooked in caramelized sugar
Rødkål – Red cabbage that has been pickled, and has a sweet-sour taste

Risalamande med Kirsebærsauce – Rice pudding, served cold, made with rice, whipped cream and almonds and topped with a warm cherry sauce.
There is even a game involved with this dessert. So there were 2 whole almonds in the dessert and the point was to eat as much as possible so that you can get the almond. The person who finds the almond usually gets a small present. It’s a fun way to eat dessert!

After dinner and dessert, we all joined hands and sang around the Christmas tree, for about 15-20minutes! It was really funny because most had actually forgotten some of the words, but it was still a great time.  Then after singing around the Christmas tree, we all sat around in the living room and opened each gift, ONE by ONE.  Because it was 10 of us and a lot of gifts, this took about 2-3 hours!  Now this was definitely different for me. So instead of just rushing to the Christmas tree and ripping all the wrapping paper to shreds to see what you received for Christmas this added a very relaxed and appreciative aspect to Christmas. The whole point of the gift opening part was so that everyone could look at all the gifts that everyone has received and then maybe give an explanation for why they bought the gift. I loved looking at everyone’s faces as they opened the gifts and were usually happy with the gifts.

Now to be a bit reflective, I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the Danish Christmas. At the beginning of December, I felt like it was a bit too much because I thought it was about purchasing multiple, very expensive gifts. But this was really my bias from the commercialism that I am slightly annoyed with surrounding Christmas.  That is not to say it is not sometimes the same feeling here but from what I experienced, Christmas here was just something a bit different. In my family we usually have 1-2 big gifts, but I saw most families here receiving probably 6 gifts minimum per person. But to give this more context and perspective, the focus of the gifts wasn’t so much about the expensiveness.   It wasn’t like everyone went out and spent a fortune on multiple gifts, providing each person with the newest iPhone or iPad. Each gift was something thoughtful, usually necessary, and quite moderate in spending, that was more to send the feeling around of traditional gift sharing and family togetherness. Even more, this was about appreciating the gifts and the process that was put into making this a Christmas family event.

Christmas turned out to be just what I love about it so much: family togetherness, a time for joy/happiness, and best of all, good food!  I received really good gifts and it made me very happy to see the expression of everyone’s faces as they opened the gifts I bought for them.  Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas in Copenhagen.

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  1. Kaz I Verden says:

    I was an international student for a year beginning in August of 2009, and didn’t leave until August of 2010 (I took the idea of a “full academic year” very seriously, apparently). I was browsing through the international blogs reading about everyone’s experiences – something of a nostalgic journey, given I’m back to visit in Copenhagen for the next two weeks. I realized, oddly, that I think I sat across from you on the metro a few days ago… there was a questionable looking stain on the seat, and you sat across from me and next to it, eyeing it. We both smiled and laughed about it, but never said anything out loud. I remember thinking you looked American… was this you?

    Ha, wouldn’t it be funny if it was. Copenhagen can be so small.

    • brunsonw says:

      Hahah, well I am really not sure, the last time I caught the bus was on Sunday night, other than that I bike everywhere. 🙂

      Thanks for reading my blog though!

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