What is a Danish Christmas like?
Some of the snow-covered, fir tree-decorated habits we have in this little kingdom are pretty similar to the other countries of Scandinavia – Norway and Sweden.
And then there are the ones that are just ours…
In common with much of Europe (but not the UK), Denmark celebrates Christmas on December 24, Christmas Eve. Traditionally, that means eating an elaborate Christmas dinner in the evening and opening presents, often late into the night, afterwards.
In Denmark, the name for Christmas is “jul”.
The way to say “Merry Christmas” in Danish is a simple six-letter thing: “God Jul”.
Candles and dancing around the Christmas tree
It’s a tradition in Danish houses to dance around the Christmas tree, holding hands as a family while you sing Christmas songs, before you start opening presents. Some families might do this before dinner instead.
The Danish Christmas tree is a special treat! You might have cut down a spruce tree yourself from the forest, that you set-up in your lounge and decorate with real candles. Real candles are an essential item for Christmas hygge – and we often burn an advent candle for a few hours a day through December too.
In Denmark, Santa Claus is named “Julemanden” (literally: “The Christmas man”). He is assisted by a group of Nisse, a sort of naughty elf. Presents are brought for children by “Julemanden” and he arrives on December 24 to distribute them. In real life, he is typically one of the family (an uncle, dad og grandad) dressed up in traditional red robes.
The Danish Christmas dinner
We take Christmas dinner seriously. Traditionally, you will be sat at a table for a good few hours, eating a meal of roast port and duck plus boiled potetoes, red cabbage and gravy. “Risalamande” is the big Christmas dessert, a rice pudding topped with cherry sauce where a whole almond will be hiding. The family member who finds the almond in their bowl gets a prize or extra present.
The lady with the candles in her hair
That’s Santa Lucia. She arrives, dressed in white, in Denmark on December 13 to bring light to what is becoming a very dark land. She leads a procession of girls, also dressed in white, and has a crown of candles in her hair. Instead of a nativity play in schools, many children look forward to taking part in the parade through their school or in their local area.
At Ugly Duckli, we offer various Danish Christmas Hans Christian Andersen experiences. Another place to seek inspiration could be VisitDenmark. Warmly welcome!
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