Come, join me and Margit as she tells us about a Danish Christmas

 

Margit has decorated her tree this year with glass balls and nature related ornaments she has designed herself.  According to Margit, her tree is quite untraditional but I love her idea of untraditional!

 Before continuing, let me apologize for "disappearing" for several days!  It could not be helped, but I am very happy to be up and around and back to myself again!

My lovely friend, Margit is my guest today and she is sharing Danish Christmas customs. She lives on a tiny Danish island in the Baltic Sea - you might remember me introducing her in this post earlier this month. In the post you will find links that will allow you to visit Bornholm and links to many of Margit's recent designs for lovely downloadable ornaments.

I love the photos she recently posted of her husband's nisse! See more pictures of these charming creatures here.

And check out her post about making these ornaments created with fabric and polystyrene balls.

They remind me of this ornament Diane made me when she was six years old!

I love Margit's paper designs and sometimes I download and print two different designs and then use them to make Danish paper hearts like the one in this picture Margit sent to me of a Danish woven heart believed to be the very first Danish woven heart made by famed author Hans Christian Andersen!

 So, let's begin!  Go grab a cup of cocoa and a big stack of cookies and join Margit as she shares:

A DANISH CHRISTMAS. 

As with many other places in the world, the stores and shops begin to decorate for Christmas in the middle of October. We all complain a lot about that.

Officially it all begins with the first Sunday in Advent. and almost every home has an advent wreath. That is originally a wreath of fir with silk bands and four candles. It is tradition to light one candle the first Sunday of advent, two the next and so on, but I must admit, that I always light all four, and replace them, when they are burnt down.

There are enormous amounts of different kinds of advent wreaths, from the traditional type to round candlesticks with four candles like this beautiful example from Royal Copenhagen

The inside of a traditional wreath is a ring of straw. The ribbons are mostly red, purple (the colour of Christmas in the church) or white. I prefer white, because so much is red in December.

This Danish Christmas stamp portrays a traditional Advent wreath.  It is a Danish tradition to put these Christmas stamps on the envelopes in December. They are different every year, made from different artists, even our Queen has made some. They are sold at post offices, and the money collected is for charity - so called Christmas Stamp Homes, for children with troubles.

As with nearly every Christmas tradition, the Advent wreath is not originally from Denmark, it comes from Germany; and as most traditions, it is not very old. It showed up about 1900 and became very common during second world war.

Another tradition is the calendar candle. It is a candle with 24  divisions painted on it. Then you burn the date down every day. I must admit, that in my family, it never functions as it is designed to function. Either it is forgotten, or we forget to blow it out.

Often the calendar candle is placed in a decorated candle stick.

The newest tradition is adopted from Sweden: It is a candle stick with seven electric candles. It became common about 1980. I must admit that I donÂ’t like the electric candles because they are so mass produced in cheap materials.

But they are used in many homes.

Now, I will tell you what we eat at Christmas!

It is strange, we eat modern and rather international the rest of the year, but during Christmas we eat strange and old-fashioned things, and often with huge amounts of calories.

During December it is time for baking cookies. The days before Christmas almost every family makes something with marzipan and nougat, often covered with chocolate, or rolled out in layers and cut out. Or coloured marzipan is shaped as fruits. These are made especially for the children.

In Denmark we celebrate Christmas Eve, 24. December. In my family, my grandmother made “æbleskiver” in the afternoon. They were served with coffee and black currant flavoured rum. I don’t think that it is so common these days with busy families and working women.

But most families do gather in the late afternoon. Often there is a little early present for the small children, something entertaining.

Duck is, in our days, the most common to eat. In earlier times it was pork, ham or neck of pork, fried in the oven, with the skin on.  It becomes crisp and delicious. Wealthy families ate goose, but I never tried that.

ROASTED DUCK

Many people fill the duck with peeled sliced apples and prunes. (I must admit that I am not fond of using apples and prunes. I am a rather odd person with the Christmas meal - I am not too crazy with the traditions). Here on Bornholm, they fill the duck with cumin pretzels soaked in milk and big raisins or prunes. I prefer to fill the duck with ground pork, wheat bread soaked in milk, and an egg. I grind the heart, the liver and the gizzard from the duck and add. Sometimes when it is possible I use some boiled chestnuts too.

The duck is roasted/fried in the oven, so the skin becomes crisp. The juice from the duck is separated from the fat, and the juice is used for the gravy.

There are many ways to MAKE GRAVY. 1) Take some flour and stir with water and use it to make the gravy thick. Potato flour can be used too. Or 2) Melt some butter, stir when heated and add the juice from the meat and a little milk. Or 3) Just heat the juice and add some fat cream. It is rather important that the gravy/sauce is brown so we use some burnt caramel colour.

The Roast Duck and gravey are traditionally served with boiled potatoes and potatoes with caramelized sugar. I prefer the boiled potatoes as I have never cared for the caramelized potatoes.

But because they are traditional, I am providing the recipe for CARAMELIZED POTATOES. I have changed it from the metric system.  I used the conversion table here to come up with the measurememts in paraentheses.

4 1/2 pounds potatoes
0.11 pound sugar (apx. 1/4 cup)
0.11 pound butter (apx. 1/4 cup)

Use small boiled and peeled potatoes. Melt the sugar until it is brown and add the butter. Put the cooled potatoes into the butter/sugar mixture and stir.
But I warned you, I do not care for these potatoes.

RED CABBAGE
Another traditional food that belongs to Christmas eve and another thing that is not my favorite. (It begins to sound like I do not like Christmas dinner at all!)

1 red cabbage  1.5 kg/3.3 pound (apx. 4 1/2 cups)
50g/0.110 pound butter (apx. 1/4 cup)
Sugar and red currant juice
Vinegar
Salt

Cut the cabbage into 4 pieces and remove the core. Slice each wedge into small “strings”.  Drip vinegar over the shredded cabbage. Melt the butter, put the cabbage into the butter, boil for 15 minutes. Add the other ingredients, and boil 1 hour.

Then there is the RICE PUDDING: there is the old and the new tradition.

The old tradition for making Rice Pudding:
It is served before the dinner:

2 liter whole milk/full cream milk (apx. 8 1/2 cups)
250 g/0.50 pound pudding (short grain) rice (apx. 1 1/8 cup)
1 coffespoon salt

Heat the milk until it comes to a boil. Add the pudding rice, then stir with low heat. When it only is just boiling put a lid on it and let it simmer for about 1 hour stirring often.  Then add the salt.

Serve warm with sugar and cinnamon and a lump of butter in the middle.

It is a tradition, to place a bowl with rice pudding in some deserted place: under the roof or in the stables for the "nisse".

And it is a tradition to put an almond into the bowl when it is served. The person who gets the almond wins a present. The present is very often a little pink pig made of marzipan.

There are several ways to cheat, the most common is that the person who gets the almond hides it in the cheek, and looks very innocent, suspiciously innocent. Or look very innocent without the almond, and the whole family suspects one another to be in possession of it.

Another way to cheat and to insure that the children get the almond is to have a present that is fit for only a child. My grandmother once served an almond in every portion, and the whole family sat around the table looking very innocent.

The modern tradition for making Rice Pudding

Boil the rice pudding the day before Christmas, and make "riz a la mande" out of it. The name Riz a la Mande sounds French, but is never heard from in France.

I have had some trouble to find a recipe as I have never made one myself, but it prepared something like this:

Mix together some cold rice pudding, some not too fine chopped almonds, vanilla, a little sugar and whipped cream. (I use my instincts.)

Serve cold with a cherry sauce that has been heated to lukewarm and one almond that is not chopped.

Often some of the almonds are not chopped into too small pieces just to keep up hope.

After the dinner, the lights on the Christmas tree are lighted, all electric lights turned out, and if there is room for it, we walk around the tree in a circle, singing hymns and Christmas songs, mostly the ones known by the children. We turn and walk the other way around for each verse.

After that, we unpack the presents.

This is Margit's Christmas Tree last year! Isn't is just beautiful!

Thank you, margit for sharing your Christmas customs and recipes.

I would like my readers to understand that Margit has worked very hard to write her story in English. I for one deeply appreciate her effort.  I only know one word in Danish - Jul!

I have italicized my own words.  And I have added links to clarify or give more information on some customs she has mentioned.  But the story is Margit's work.  And I hope it adds to your holiday spirit.

It has added to mine!  I am posting this and heading to the kitchen to make Aebleskivers!

And tomorrow - maybe some rice pudding with almonds - and I will top mine with Lingonberry sauce!  Be still my heart!

 

I love the Danish holiday

I love the Danish holiday season. Having lived in various regions of Denmark for several years, it is still one of the memories I cherish. Every year I make sure that my Danish hearts, nisse, and straw ornaments and my one "real candle" holder from Denmark. Lovely time of year there.

oh, man I've wanted to be a

oh, man I've wanted to be a Dane for years. I love this post! Margit, thank you for working so hard on this and for doing it in English!
Thanks, Pam. And what better time to find that woven heart tutorial again, when it's almost Valentine's Day! I have always wanted to make them and still haven't. Where are my priorities!

XOX

Just wanted to drop in and

Just wanted to drop in and wish you & your family a very Merry Christmas!

Wishing you good times, good cheer and a happy new year!

~xoxo

Pam, such a lovely post for

Pam, such a lovely post for this time of year. It's so nice reading about other holidays customs. I have enjoyed your blog immensely this year and look forward to more in the coming year. Merry Christmas and a blessed and healthy New Year!

I love all the Danish

I love all the Danish traditions. I have some friends in Copenhagen and we hope to visit again in July next year. I made a traditional Christmas cake when they visited us one summer and they loved it. This Christmas I shall try to make the Christmas Rice pudding for an alternative sweet as well as my homemade Christmas pudding. I enjoyed this site, and will visit it again.

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