Celebrating Christmas: Denmark

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Christmas day in Denmark is usually a winter wonderland warmed with great company, food, lights and gifts.  Like many countries, a typical Danish Christmas begins on Advent when the first candle of the wreath is lit.  The following Sundays also mark another candle lighting, and each moment is an opportunity to raise ante as Christmas approaches.  As early as these Sundays leading to December 25, Danes who celebrate this weekend ritual already celebrate with drinks such as warm spiced wine for the adults and juice for children.  However, for the Danes, traditional Christmas meals are among the many highlights of the holidays as the women of the family take out family recipes that have marked generations of holiday tradition.

As early as December 23, many families already gather to start the celebrations; this is called the Lille Juleaften (Little Christmas Eve).  Families can exchange gifts as early as the lille juleaften, and they celebrate with meals such as a rice pudding with cinnamon called risengrod paired with hyidtol or malt beer.

Come Christmas Eve Denmark is into a more celebratory mood as compared to Christmas Day when people spend a quieter time at home with family and friends.  Nonetheless, holiday food is constantly present on the Danish table. The Danish roast goose or the gås med svesker og æbler is among the holiday highlights that every Dane looks forward to.  Stuffed with apples and prunes, this traditional recipe is a favorite during the Christmas season.  The roast goose is further complimented by other dishes such as sea food.  Favorites are salmon , herring, lobster and crab with different dressings.  Many families also prepare sausage (medisterpølse) and meatballs (frikadeller) with sidings of red cabbage and beetroots. Meat such as pork are also roasted with bacon, fried apples and soft fried onion.  Some families enjoy black pudding with syrup and liver pate.  For dessert, the Danish love their cheese and fruit platter, fruit salad, and ris a la mande, a vanilla rice pudding topped with warm cherry sauce.

Food is supplemented with the Danish spiced wine called the Gløgg with almonds, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and bitter orange; the gløgg is usually paired with ginger snaps or a handful of blanched almonds.  Another popular drink is, of course, Danish beer.    Children get extra treats as they are served with kid-friendly hot chocolate and æbleskive, a Danish doughnut with icing sugar or jam.

Christmas in Denmark does not fall short on décor and lights.  Christmas trees are topped with gold stars and families hang tinsel and glass globes around the house.  The lights do not seem to go out in this period when winter seems to be on a constant height.  Inside their homes, the Danes celebrate the holidays inside their homes with food that brings them comfort and family that keeps all the meals and the parties a stark contrast to the cold white outside.

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Yasmin Coles

Yasmin Coles

Yasmin Coles

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