The Danes have more traditions than you can shake a (very big) stick at. What about eating goose (or duck, as is now more common) for dinner on 10 November, as a prelude to St Martin’s Day? Eating ‘hveder’ (hot, white rolls) and going for a walk around Copenhagen ramparts on the evening before ‘Big Prayer Day’ – introduced in 1770, when 11 religious holidays were rolled into one 🙂
Christmas is the high point. From the traditional biscuits that are baked, the hot donuts that are served with jam, sugar and glögg (mulled wine) at every Christmas party, the garlands of Danish flags that go on the (real) Christmas tree, the singing of songs while ‘dancing’ round the tree before the opening of presents on Christmas eve, to the weaving of hearts that are the Christmas symbol…to name but a few! 😉
And then there are the Advent calenders. Not the paper type, like we had when we were kids in Scotland. Where you open one door per day, to reveal a picture of a snowball, Santa Claus or a candle. Nor the modern type, where there is a little chocolate behind every door.
In Denmark kids get an advent calendar of 24 small presents. One present each day until the evening where Christmas is celebrated. Not large presents – but they are all individually wrapped, and opened each morning before the kids go to school. Which is a lovely idea. In theory. But rather difficult (not to mention expensive and stressful) in practice. Because poor old Mum (and it’s always Mum isn’t it?!) has to buy all the gifts and have them wrapped and ready by 30 November.
I’ve done it a couple of years. Of course. Because I love traditions. The kids are (and who wouldn’t be?) delighted the first week or so and it makes getting them out of bed on a cold and dark December morning a doddle. But very soon they are unwrapping the (normally plastic, cheapo) gift and it is thrown into a pile with all the others. And by the end of the month, they even forget to open them. Sad but true! 😉
So now we’ve jumped on to a variant of that tradition, the ‘Advent Sunday’ gift. Along the same lines as the Advent candle decoration where you light one candle every week (just like they used to do on Blue Peter). Which means that they get a (slightly larger) token gift each Sunday (duh!) up to Christmas. Less to buy and less stressful for Mum. Usually I buy a book or some type of puzzle.
And did I mention the Advent calendars on Danish TV, where one episode is shown every day in December? No? Ah well, we’ll keep that for another blogpost… 🙂