Monday, December 01, 2008

Blog Advent Tour 2008: December 2.

I have the great honor of being one of the bloggers posting for the Blog Advent Tour on December 2. The complete list of posters can be found with Marg from Reading Adventures and Kailana from The Written World and I definitely think you should check it out.

Some of you will know that I am a Dane living in Copenhagen, and while there are some non-speaking English or non-European bloggers out there I thought I'd post about a typical Danish Christmas. But before I do that I will post a little about our Advent-tradition. In Denmark (as well as other countries) we have a special Advent-wreath. It can be made of metal, straw, dough, clay and many other materials, but traditionally it is made of the same kind of tree as a Christmas tree (and I cannot remember the English name for that kinda tree on top of my head right now. HELP). The wreath has 4 candles and the first Sunday in Advent (which was this past Sunday), you light one candle. Next Sunday you light two and so forth. I do not have an Advent-wreath myself, but my parents always have one. The image is from a Dutch site, so I guess they also have this tradition i Holland at least.
In Denmark we celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th. We live in a dark place when it is winter, but a few days before Christmas, the almanac shows that it is the Winter Solstice and from that day on, the days are getting longer again. So, Christmas used to be a pagan Winter Solstice Celebration. The image below is from my own photo-collection and is shot last year on the morning after Winter Solstice the 23rd of December outside my parent's place. They do not live in Copenhagen.
Being from a family of non-practising Protestants, we do not go to church for Christmas, but there are always at least one Christmas mass in almost each and every church in Denmark. Everybody seems to think that even though they don't go to church the rest of the year, they go for Christmas (personally I think it is a wee bit hypocritical, but that is something for another post and I myself is probably also a hypocrite in many other ways regarding Christmas). The image below of the village church at my parent's place was shot some years ago a few days after Christmas. Unfortunately, we never really have a white Christmas in Denmark. We rarely have snow until January. But that year it did snow heavily a few days after the 24th. At the point where I shot the image, the blizzard hadn't hit yet. The little church is almost (but not quite) Medieval.
Chrismas dinner in Denmark is traditionally roast duck, roast goose or pork-roast. Some families serve two of the dishes, for instance both a roast duck and a pork-roast. The roast/bird is served with apples and plums, which has been used as stuffing (in the bird), potatoes and gravy and pickled red cabbage. After dinner we have a special almond and rice pudding, wherein there is one whole almond hidden. The person who finds the whole almond wins a little present, which is often chocolate, a marcipane-pig or a trinket. In families with kids, it is tradition to make sure that there are as many whole almonds as there are small kids and then making sure that the kids each get a whole almond so no kids end up crying. Last year we decided to skip the whole bird and served roasted duck-breasts instead. And we made the stuffing with onion, apple and bacon which we placed underneath the breasts when they were put in the oven. That is what is on my plate below.
After dinner we sing carols and psalms while walking around the tree and then it is time for presents. We put the presents either underneath the tree or beside the tree. In our family we always put the presents beside the tree. The look of the traditional Danish Christmas tree is a look we got from Germany little more than 100 years ago. Many families add their own touch of course and over the years the traditional things to hang on the tree has changed and developed. We used to have real candles on our tree, but after my mother sort of got allergic to the smoke from candles, we switched to artificial lights. I still think that real candles on the tree is how it should be though.
The tree has a star on top, which I hope you can see, symbolizing the leading star of the Three Wise Men.
We decorate the tree with birds, glass balls, paper drums, stars, lights, flags and many other kinds of decorations. The kid in the picture is my nephew August searching for candy, which is traditonally hidden in some of the decoration. You hide (guess it is not really hidden, as everyone knows where to find it from about age 1) the candy in small pouches which can be shaped like hearts among other things.
Last image is our nativity-scene (I think that is what it is called in English) which is at least 40 years old and lots of things has gone missing over the years. There used to be some more animals and also, the angels surrounding the scene are not originally from the set. But I guess we have the most important persons as we still have Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary, Joseph and the Three Wise Men.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL.

46 comments:

Kerry said...

This was a lovely, lovely description of your Christmas - and wonderful photos too. Thank you for sharing.

Marg said...

One of the great things about the Advent tour is learning how other nationalities celebrate.

I find it interesting that you decorate your tree with a string of flags. I don't think I have ever seen that done here at all.

Fantastic post! Thanks so much for your contribution.

joanna said...

What an interesting post! The Danish traditions sounds lovely. And your photos make me want to go to Denmark! ;-) Happy Holidays!

Beth F said...

Your traditions sound wonderful. Love the photos. Now I really want to go back to your country. I'll post a Denmark photo tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday.

Krissi said...

What a wonderful post. I loved reading about your traditions and seeing your beautiful photos. I want to visit Copenhagen now. Can I stay with you? I've always been intrigued about Christmas trees with candles. I'm sure it is beautiful. Thanks for the post.

Strumpet said...

Beautiful post. It is very similar to Christmas in Norway, but of course not completely. Our advent wreath is usually filled with purple colors (the color of advent in the Lutheran church). I have to have my candles sent to me from my mother in Norway to get them to fit my wreath right :)

Suey said...

Great post and beautiful pictures! My family has always done the rice pudding with the whole almond in it to find too. The kids love it!

Bogsider said...

Thank you all for your comments. I really enjoyed making the post and had to restrain myself for not posting more images and writing even more text ;o)

@Beth: I look so much forward to see your Denmark-image tomorrow.

@Krissi: You should come to Denmark, but wait some months (or half a year) as it is unberably cold, dank and dark this time of year ;o) I guess it is not wonder we need the real candles on the tree and some festivities to take us through this season...Lots of people head to Caribbean Islands/Thailand/Africa for Christmas because they cannot stand the darkness no longer.

@Strumpet: Yes, I guess we have similar traditions between Norway and Denmark (and Sweden and Finland for that matter as well). But it is even darker in Norway, Sweden and Finland than it is in Denmark, so I guess I shouldn't complain. At least we see some daylight.

@Suey: That is funny hearing that you also have the rice-almond pudding tradition.

Thanks again to all for commenting, I am not heading your way!

Julia Smith said...

'It is tradition to make sure that there are as many whole almonds as there are small kids and then making sure that the kids each get a whole almond so no kids end up crying.' - A good idea! LOL!

I love your tradition of circling the tree and singing. So beautiful.

And I don't really see a problem with absentee church goers making it to Christmas/Easter celebrations. I find people have not lost their spirituality, but have become more private and perhaps more intense with it. But the large festivals make them want to be with everyone else to celebrate such a big event.

Thank you for the tour to Copenhagen.

Morgan the (Almost) Muse said...

That was beautiful! I feel inspired now, I think I know what I am going to write about for my post. But I still have a couple of weeks to go. Yes, it is called a nativity. You did wonderful!

Becky said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your photos with us!

Bogsider said...

Thanks for visiting Julia, Morgan and Becky. I really appreciate it.

@Julia: Somehow the kids always end up crying for Christmas anyway ;o) Well, not really I guess, but at least some of the excitement, which can result in crying, can be toned down if they ALL get an almond and a trinket ;o)

@Morgan: I am sure you will figure something out for your advent post.

@Becky: You're welcome! Anytime.

softdrink said...

What a lovely post...I love reading about the traditions of other countries!

Kailana said...

That was very interesting! I like learning about how Christmas is celebrated in different places!

Bogsider said...

Softdrink and Kailana, I really enjoyed making the post and I enjoy my tour round the other blogs which I am doing right now even more! It is so much fun to check out other blogs and the ones I have seen so far I also very interesting! Cool!

Vickie said...

Thank you for sharing your Christmas festivities.

Those outdoor pictures are beautiful.

have a wonderful holiday.

Bogsider said...

Vickie, thanks for stopping by and for the nice comments. I am actually beginning to look forward to the holiday festivities :o)

Chris said...

My Grandmother is Danish so I love hearing about your Christmas. She always has the little Danish flags on the tree too. I love that. Merry Christmas!

Bogsider said...

Wow, Chris, that is so cool. Some of the flag-rows we have on our tree are from my grandmother and great-grandparens and even though the white stripes in the Danish flags has turned yellow and the flags are stained with stearin from the last 50 years from the candles and some of the flags look sorta shabby, we really do not want to buy new ones too often, but adore putting up those ooooold ones.

Melissa said...

What a great post -- I really liked learning more about Christmas in Denmark! My ancestors were from there (I'm half Danish/Swedish), and the only thing that's made it through the generations is the rice pudding/almond dessert. :)

Bogsider said...

Thanks for visiting Melissa. I think it is so much fun to learn that the pudding/almond desert has survived in your family's traditions. We actually call it ris a la mande but not very sure that the French ever heard about it ;o) And I forgot to note that we pour cherry sauce over it as well.

Debbie said...

It was fun to hear all about your Christmas traditions.
a great post...thanks.

raidergirl3 said...

I love that picture of the church, just beautiful. It would be so peaceful and magical to attend on Christmas Eve.
Wonderful post sharing a Danish Christmas. That dinner looked yummy too.

Susan said...

What a lovely post, Louise! I really enjoyed your pictures and seeing the tree and the decorations, which are very different from ours in Canada (unless you have family ones brought from overseas of course). I especially enjoyed hearing about your Christmas dinner and the duck, pig or goose that you have, and could feel my mouth watering at your picture!
since I am from Canada where it gets almost as dark, can I ask how many hours of daylight you get around the Solstice? which personally I celebrate because I need that sun to come back! By February I'm in the depths of winter blahs, and over here so many people go south to to get some light and away from the cold.
I really enjoyed your post and thank you so much for sharing your traditions with us. I'm putting you on my blog roll so I will be by much more often, and that's the best thing about this advent tour, meeting new bloggers! :-)

Callista said...

Wow thanks for that wonderful description of your Christmas. I love learning how other cultures celebrate it. Beautiful pics!

Bellezza said...

Oh, you did such a wonderful job! Even though I am American, I attended a Covenant church all my growing up which as you may know has its roots in Sweden. Which of course is different from Denmark, but what I want to say is that we always had an Advent wreath in our home (still do!), our tree always has white lights (the only kind ;) with presents underneath, and we also have the creche. Your post could have been written from a member of my own family, and it touched me very much. Thanks for sharing your traditions, and your living room (not to mention dinner plate!) is quite lovely.

Melissa said...

Thanks fro sharing how you spend Christmas, I loved seeing all your photos too.

Bellezza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maw Books said...

I love learning how everybody celebrates their Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

Penelope said...

What wonderful descriptions your holiday traditions! I especially love the description of the Advent-wreath; it's sounds like a lovely tradition.

Julia said...

That is a wonderful and lovely tradition. I love to learn how other nationalities celebrate their Christmas. I've never seen flag put around the trees before, but that was interesting.

Thanks for sharing!

Alison said...

Thank you for sharing. I love your tree and it was very interesting to hear about your traditions.

Book Lover Lisa said...

Thanks for posting about the Danish christmas traditions. It was especially interesting to me since my grandmother's people came from Denmark.

Bogsider said...

A short note to all: I haven't been online all day and now it is close to midnight December 3. I will be back tomorrow to have a look at your blogs and comment a bit here as well.

Thanks for stopping by all of you

Louise

Kim said...

What a lovely post. I so enjoyed reading about how you celebrate Christmas--your food looks very interesting and your tree is beautiful. Thank you for sharing about your life!
*smiles*
Kim

Omah's Helping Hands said...

What a beautiful post. So enjoyed the pictures. We used to have an advent wreath made out of pine cones that we had purchased in Germany. It eventually fell apart to the point of not being able to repair it any more. I miss having it. Thanks for sharing your traditions.

Sherry said...

Thanks from me, too, for sharing. I learned something about Christmas in Denmark.

While I'm out and about for the Blog Advent Tour, I'm inviting folks to the Saturday Review of Books held at my blog Semicolon each Saturday. If you've never participated, it's a chance to leave links to your book reviews for the week and read those of others. Here's last Saturday's Review, for a sample. I hope to see you on Saturday

Bogsider said...

Okay, time for getting back into blogger-business. Have had a couple of busy days where I haven't been able to be online, but now I can finally sit down.

Thanks again for all your comments. I really appreciate it a lot.

@Susan: Around Winter Solstice we have a 5-6 hours of daylight, provided there are not too many clouds. If there are clouds, we only have gloomy daylight for a few hours and it is EXTREMELY depressing. I guess it is the same in Canada?

@Bellezza: Thanks for the kind words. It is amazing how many people actually have Scandinavian forefathers over there :o) And the living room in the picture is not mine, but my parent's :o)

@Sherry: Thanks for the link, I will tour the blog-world now and look into the Saturday-reviewing.

splummer said...

Hi!
I am late getting around to everyone's blogs. Your Christmas traditions sound lovely. Your photos are great! I really liked the one of the church! Thanks for sharing.

Sherrie

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the insights. A northern hemisphere Christmas is such a magical time, very different to what it is like "downunder".

Wendy said...

Thank you for sharing your Danish traditions! My family background is Swedish and so many of your traditions I find familiar as well :)

Bogsider said...

@Splummer, don't worry. I have been very busy the whole week and away from my computer (gasp) the whole weekend, so I haven't had time either to check out all the blogs I wanted to. But have some time now, fortunately. Thanks for stopping by.

@Kerrie, yes, I imagine you celebrate the holidays in sunshine and high temperatures? I wouldn't mind trying that myself some time.

@Wendy, Yes, the Swedish and the Danish Christmas has lots of things in common, but also a lot of differences.

Thanks to all for dropping by.

Nymeth said...

Thank you for this! I love learning about Christmas celebrations from around the world. And that pictures you took of the sun rising is just gorgeous.

Michelle said...

I loved reading about your Danish traditions! Beautiful, thank you for sharing!

3M said...

Wonderful Advent Tour post! I live in America, but we use an Advent wreath as well, and we also celebrate on Christmas Eve. My family heritage is German.

Beautiful photos!

Bogsider said...

Thanks for the comments Nymeth, Michelle and 3M. I also think the Advent Tour has been a wonderful addition to the holiday preperations.