Nytårsaften – get ready to jump!

We’re now recovered from Christmas (ho, ho, ho!) and I’ve just looked out my DDH’s (Dear Danish Husband’s) black tie outfit.  And safety glasses.  And several bags of explosives…  Is my DDH the Danish equivalent of James Bond? 😎  Nope, it’s because tonight we will be celebrating Nytår (New Year).  Which, in Denmark, is serious business.  While Christmas is spent with family, New Year’s Eve is normally spent with friends – usually at someone’s house.

Let’s start with the basics.  The celebrations start at 6 o’clock.  Sharp.  So make absolutely sure you are at the party venue about 15 minutes before, so you have time to change out of your ‘outside’ shoes, take off your coat, scarf and gloves, and put down your (humungous) bag of fireworks (not forgetting the all-important safety glasses for every member of your party).  And what’s so important about 6 o’clock?  Well, that’s when the Danish Queen “Daisy”‘ makes her speech, live, on the telly.  Two minutes to six – eeeeeek – everyone stand to atten-SHUN! 😀

It’s tradition to watch and listen.  Whilst standing up (only the elderly and small tots are exempt) and enjoying a cocktail or glass of bubbly.  Now, when you get tired of standing up in your party heels, and start to wonder “when will this ever end?”, just listen out for a mention of those at sea.  Or the Danish armed forces.  Or Greenland.  You are in the final straight! 😉

The Queen always finishes with “Gud bevare Danmark!”  God Bless Denmark!  At which point, the kids and big kids (= dads) are officially allowed to go outside and launch a few fireworks.  (But remember to keep those big guns for 12 o’clock!)

And it’s also the cue for the others (um, that would be the women?!) to go into the kitchen, finish prepping the yummy food, and get the starter on the table.  Then the menfolk/kids come back in, everyone eats, the menfolk/kids go out and launch a few more fireworks, the women clear up and prepare the next course and repeat, repeat, REPEAT!!!

Just make sure that – with all the crazy comings and goings, food and wine aplenty – that you don’t lose track of time.

When it’s getting near to 12 o’clock, you need to stop and find a seat.  Or a ladder.  Or a sofa.  Something that is fairly high up off the ground to stand on…

Switch on the telly or radio and turn it up LOUD.  Because the first chimes of the clock from Copenhagen’s rådhus (townhall) are your cue to literally ‘jump’ into the New Year. As you will probably take off your shoes, make sure that tonight you aren’t wearing your holy socks or your stockings! 🙂

So we jump down, hug and kiss everyone in the room and open (yet more) champagne.

Then you listen to the traditional songs… Vær Velkommen Herrens År, Det er et Yndigt Land andKong Kristian stod ved højen Mast  Not a dry eye in the house!

And then it’s time for everyone to muffle up, pile outside (safety glasses on, champagne in hand) for the Grand Finale of fireworks.  Remember, safety first!

Where we live, the fireworks usually last for over 30 minutes.  But you’ll hear fireworks going off the whole night, into the wee small hours of the morning…  And again the next day!

But back to our party!  After the fireworks, you can come back in and warm up with hot coffee and kransekagetop (yummy marcipan cake, baked in rings, layered up and decorated with sparklers, feathers and streamers) before finishing off the champers.  This year, I’ve attempted to bake and build my own kransekagetop…

And – while I’m not quite ready for Masterchef – and it was all pretty hairy sticking the dang thing together…

…I’m pretty pleased with the end result! We shall be celebrating with some Italian visitors tonight, hence the extra flags…

But what about the Day After – when we all wake up late on the first of January?  Well, that means a day of watching German ski jump on the tv, eating lots of junk food and [sigh] clearing up the aftermath of fireworks from the road and garden…  Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full!

All that’s left for me to do, dear readers, is thank you for reading what I write and wish you Godt Nytår!  Happy New Year!

See you on the other side, in 2015!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 24 December (The Big Day)

Welcome to the final instalment of My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!

24 DECEMBER

The Big Day is finally here! Let’s start with our lunch, which was fairly light – sild (marinated herring) and æggesalat (egg mayo)…

and varmt leverpostej med bacon og champignon (hot liver pâté with bacon and mushrooms).  Washed down with julebryg!

After lunch we went to church.  Or at least we tried to.  Because when we got there, about 15 minutes before the third service of the day was to start – you guessed it! – there was no room left at the inn! 😉  The church had brought in extra seats but, alas, by that time it was standing room only…  Which wasn’t really an option for my DSM79 (Dear Scottish Mum, aged 79).  Yep, that old chestnut about those crazy Danes never going to church except for the 24 December is truly alive and well! 🙂

So we came home and watched a church service on the telly.  And then, after changing into our gladrags, it was suddenly 6pm and time to start dinner – consisting of duck with prunes and apple, red cabbage, caramelised potatoes and boiled potatoes, gravy and hot salted crisps.

And who won this year’s mandelgave?

Ah, ’twas a ris à l’amandenovice!  Beginner’s luck?

After dinner we danced round the Christmas tree.  Very carefully.  Lots of pressies under there, you see!

And then the kids started picking out gifts for us to open, one by one…

It took us – with short breaks for drinks and konfekt (homemade sweets) – about 2 hours!  And then it was off to bed after a lovely long day…to wake up to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the morning of 25 December!

Terrific weather for vinterbadning (winterbathing/skinnydipping) in the Danish sea to celebrate…merry Christmas and God Jul!

Diane 🙂


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 23 December (Lunch)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

23 DECEMBER

One sleep to go!  It’s Tuesday morning – 23 December – which means it’s Lille Juleaften (“Little Christmas Eve”) here in Denmark.  Last day of school for our kids.  And the last shopping day – tomorrow all the shops in our village will be closed, and won’t reopen until Saturday.  Luckily all our presents are wrapped and ready to go under the (count’ em) two trees!  Yep, the trees have been brought into the house and are both decorated… 🙂

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Our fridge/freezer and cupboards are bursting at the seams with supplies.  So, whilst I’m having breakfast with my Scottish family, I’ve put the rice on to cook in prep for tomorrow’s traditional ris à l’amande dessert.

One of the best parts about Christmas in Denmark is all the yummy julefrokoster (lunches)…rugbrød (ryebread) with all the different toppings.  Over the next few days, we’ll be tucking into this little lot:

  • marinerede sild (this year’s homemade marinated herringwith egg mayo),  karry sild (curried herring) and tomat sild (tomato herring)

  • fiskefileter med remoulade (hot crumbed fish fillets with remoulade sauce)
  • rejer (prawns) and gravad laks (smoked salmon with dill)
  • varmt leverpostej med champignon og bacon (hot liverpâté with mushrooms and bacon)

  • frikadeller (Danish meatballs)
  • ost (cheese)

All washed down with (whats left of the) beer from the Beer Advent Calendar!  Skål!

One sleep to go – the sooner you get to bed, the sooner Christmas will be here! 😉

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the very last door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 22 December (Rullepølse and sild)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

22 DECEMBER

Two sleeps to go!  No wonder we had the park completely to ourselves this morning for our run…’cos everyone else seems to be running around daft, getting ready for the big day! Even the dog walkers were doing their business elsewhere… 😉  You’ll remember that our park houses this building – Bernstorff Palace – these days known as the residence of Birgitte Nyborg, Denmark’s first female Prime Minister in the tv series “Borgen” …

But I digress!  Last year, in addition to making pebernødder (‘pepper nut’ biscuits), æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) and konfekt (homemade sweets), I made my own rullepølse (‘rolled pork’)…  (Instructions for that are right here.)

Well, as my family from Scotland are arriving today (hooray!) and my DSD (Dear Scottish Dad) is mad about sild (herring), I’ve decided to surprise him and marinate my own herring this year.  I found this easy peasy DIY herring tin in a Swedish supermarket.

All I had to do was mix up a cold brine of sugar, vinegar and water.  Then open the tin, rinse the herrings and cut them into bite size pieces…

Finely sliced a red onion and crushed about 10 black peppercorns.

Layered the herring, onions peppercorns in a container (I have a dinky one from Tupperware that also has a draining function for when you take it to the table…) and poured over the brine.

Lid on, into the fridge for 24 hours and Bob’s your uncle! 🙂

Which will also give me time to get rid of the herring smell from my hands… 😛

I’ll serve the homemade marinated herring on ryebread and will top it, the traditional way, with egg mayonnaise.  Velbekomme!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 21 December (Ris à l'amande)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

21 DECEMBER

Okay, you’ve already seen that we have our mandelgave (marcipan pig) wrapped and ready – the prize at Christmas dinner on 24 December for finding the whole almond in the pudding.  Ris à l’amande! 🙂

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Here comes the recipe!  In my DDH’s family (Dear Danish Husband), they always cook the basic rice pudding on 23 December and finish it off on the 24 December.  Gives it a good taste and – more importantly – it’s nice to get half of the prep done early…  This recipe feeds 8 people – enough for us.  If you only want a small portion, half the quantities…

DAY ONE (23 DECEMBER)

Put 2½dl (250mls) of water and 2½ dl (250mls or 200g) of rice (short-grain, pudding, grødris) in a very large pot, bring to the boil and let it cook for 2 minutes.

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Slowly add 1 litre of milk (sødmælk, wholemilk is best) and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  When it boils, turn the heat right down, pop a lid on it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  Check on it every 10 minutes or so, giving it a good stir.  If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, you can take it off the heat after about 15 minutes and let it continue to cook, wrapped in a duvet on your bed 8)

Leave it to cool in a cool place – preferably overnight.

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DAY TWO (24 DECEMBER)

Give the cold rice pudding a good stir.  Add two large tablespoons of sugar (melis/sukker) and about 4 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (vanilje sukker).  Give it a taste, and check to see that it is sweet enough for you.  Then add 100g of chopped almonds (hakkede mandler).  Give it another good stir.  Beat 4dls (400ml) of whipping cream (piskefløde) until you get soft peaks and stir into the rice pudding.  At this point you’ll want to transfer it into a nice bowl, cover and keep cool until serving time.

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HERE COMES THE SCIENCE BIT!

Just before serving, add one whole, blanched almond (mandel).  Easiest way to remove the skin is to put the almond in a bowl of boiled water, let it sit for a minute, then the skin should squish right off.  A word of warning, sometimes the almonds break up when you remove the skin.  Make sure you have three or four almonds, so you end up with at least one whole one… 😉  Add to the pudding, give it a good mix and take it to table.  Everyone gets a portion of the cold rice pudding, along with some hot, cherry sauce (kirsebærsauce).  Yum!  And now?  Let the hunt for the whole almond begin!

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Who’s going to win this year?  May the best man win (the marcipan pig)!

pig

Three sleeps to go – get to bed early tonight and get your beauty sleep!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 20 December 2014 (Christmas spirit)

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

20 DECEMBER

My dear Readers, it’s Saturday and I am hopelessly late in ‘opening’ today’s door…but just look at what is in store! 🙂

vic

Yes, this past week has been a whirlwind and I’ve been burning the (Advent, ho ho!) candle at both ends – Tivoli, stand-up comedy with Tobias Dybvad and Anders Grau, Christmas jazz with Mads Mathis and the DR Big Band and, last but not least, the Star Wars Holiday Special.  Much merriment has been had!  Though I have to admit that the Star Wars Special from 1978 – brought to us by the ‘Bad Movie Club’ at Huset i Magtstræde – was indeed even more dire than we could have hoped – we certainly needed the force (together with julebrygand popcorn) with us in order to get through those 90 toe-curling minutes! 😛

But I digress!  Today we’ve been at home decorating, cooking, wrapping, singing Christmas songs and making several types of konfekt

The Christmas trees which have been outside in the garden

trees

…finally came in from the cold.  Good friends came over for dinner and hygge and we feasted on all the food I’ve been stockpiling for weeks! 🙂  Their little girl princess did us the honours and decorated the little tree – all by herself…

Beautiful!  Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?  Not a dry eye in the house.

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 19 December (Weird and wonderful)

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

19 DECEMBER

I was in town last week with the kids, looking at the Christmas lights and displays.  Now, I now they are going for the ‘wow’ factor but this year ILLUM(a Danish department store) has more of a “shock and awe” factor.  Did they take inspiration from the second season of the tv series The Bridge / Broen / Bron?  Need a reminder about that scandi crime series ?  Here’s a little snippet…note the animal masks!

And here, dear readers, are the ILLUM window displays.  Am I the only one who finds them a bit creepy? 😉

This one doesn’t have a leg to stand on…boom, boom!

Flødeboller arranged as a Christmas tree?  Okay, we did like this one…

Rabbit head plus little glowing baby/child = extra creepy!

Oh, well, at least the animal choir were pretty fun to watch.  They danced along to the song, “I’m too sexy.”

But what is the front one holding?!  Oh, yes.  A bra – selvfølgelig!

And this last window?  Words fail me…

It was a relief to go round the corner…

…and get back to some normal Christmas lights.  (If you want to see the lights at Tivoli this year, see Tuesday’s post.)

Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 18 December (Counting stars)

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

18 DECEMBER

Is there a Christmas decoration that hangs in every window in your corner of the world?  Around these parts it used to be this retro classic – we ‘inherited’ this one from the previous owners of our Swedish summer house and I love it – pure Christmas kitsch! 🙂

But now there’s a new Sheriff in town…complete with a star – Julestjernen!

Yep, those stars seem to be hanging in every Danish shop window and home right now…

And you know they’ve gone viral when supermarkets and discount stores start selling them.

Julestjernen (“Christmas star”) is, co-incidentally, also the Danish name for the poinsettia…

I also spotted these in the shop windows…paper stars – another obsession of those crazy (but lovable) Danes!

If you want to try your hand at making some yourself, buy the long, thin strips of paper ready cut at hobby stores and bookshops.  Precision is key!

But I’m warning you, they’re very tricky and mind-boggingly time-consuming to make – I don’t think I’ll ever master them.  Normally I give up and turn them into musetrapper (“mouse steps”) instead… ! 😛

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Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 17 December (Konfekt – homemade sweets)

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

17 DECEMBER

I went a bit mad at the weekend when I was at the supermarket.  Not only is our house bursting with enough nibbles, sild (herring) and julebrygto sink a small Armada, behold this little lot!

These are just some of the ingredients we’ll be using tonight to make lots and lots of yummy Danish konfekt – small, homemade sweets.  Let’s see, we’ve got copious amounts of marcipan…

…and Danish nougat (a very soft brown fudge, not to be confused with French white nougat or Spanish túrron)…

…and some dried fruits (we like to use dates, apricots and crystallised ginger).

And plenty of chocolate – less is not more when you’re making konfekt! 😉 You’ll typically see konfekt served at Christmas, as party food or at the end of a meal instead of dessert.  Here’s what we’ll normally munch on when watching the day’s installment of the children’s tv Christmas calendar…

Need a few ideas to get you started?  Take some marcipan,  a large bar of chocolate and whatever else you have on hand: dried apricots, dates, Smarties or M+Ms, tiny marshmallows, coconut, icing sugar, edible gold, food colouring and tiny paper cases…  Roll out the marcipan and cut into shapes.  Or take a date and ‘stuff’ it with marcipan, then dip in chocolate.  Or cut up some apricots, and put a piece inside a ball of marcipan and roll in icing sugar, coconut or chopped nuts.  Soak some raisins in cognac for a couple of days, then spoon into tiny cases and cover with chocolate.  Anything goes!

Enlist the help of some little elves.  Though keep your eye on them because they eat rather copious amounts of marcipan etc while they work…

If you want to be more creative, just ‘google’ pictures of konfekt. You can do nougat-filled-yule-logs, coconut balls, boozy flavoured marcipan etc, etc, etc…  (If you’re a Danish marcipan freak like me, then you must try making a fabulous Danish cake – Mazarinkage.  My recipe for that is right here.)  But this is our family-favourite-five-minute-konfekt.  The hardest part?  Waiting it for the chocolate to dry! ;)

Velbekomme!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 16 December (Jazz and Tivoli)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

16 DECEMBER

I have a few Christmas ‘outing’ traditions.  One is taking in a julestueor two, and another is listening to some live jazz – with our favourite Mads Mathias.  We’ve seen him in lots of small venues (see the photo below from a couple of years ago) but this year we’re going to see him perform at Koncerthusetwith DR’s Big Band orchestra…should be a fun night!  🙂

Mads Mathias at Huset i Magstræde, January 2013

And we always (always) make a trip to Tivoli.  We’ve got membership cards and visit the park and gardens all year round (Easter, the whole of summer, Halloween) but, personally, I love seeing all the lights and decorations in December.  Hyggeligt!

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We went in late yesterday afternoon (about 4.45pm) and, as luck would have it, it was actually very quiet and we didn’t have to queue for any of the rollercoasters.  Lookie here – space to move around! 🙂

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We did the usual rides like the Chair’o’planes, the old Rollercoaster, the Odin Express and the Demon.  But didn’t bother with the Star Flyer because it’s really cold and windy when you get so high up! 😉 (That would be 80m or 260ft!)

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Love all the giant nutcrackers on top of the concert building!

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The swans were out in force in front of Nimb, but they had to make do with articifial snow and ice.  Current temperature here is a mild (for the time of year…) 4c or 39f.

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And, really, what could be more romantic than a trip on a slow boat to…Copenhagen? 😉  My DD12 wondered how long it took for the staff to attach all the lights to that tree.  Whilst I (the grown up/Canny Scot) was wondering just how much it would cost to run in electricity! 😛

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If you’re looking for a nice bite to eat, then head for Grøften, which is very traditional and has been serving food to the Danes – and lots of famous visitors – since 1874.  Here’s my Dear Dad from Scotland, about to tuck into a stjerneskud (fried plaice topped with prawns and caviar) and a julebryg last year….

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You can even do a bit of Christmas shopping at Tivoli’s Christmas market.  We thought these were rather quaint…hard-boiled toffees with different Danish motifs (Dannebrog, H.C.Anderson, the Daisy, the Swan).  Now to get them wrapped, labelled and put under the tree.  [Oh, wait a minute, we haven’t brought the tree into the house yet!]

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Eight sleeps to go – need to and check my lists (twice).  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 15 December (Marcipan pigs and finding the almond in your ris à l'amande)

Welcome to my My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

15 DECEMBER

Nine sleeps until The Big Day, woop woop! A comforting thought for my kids on these dark, cold school mornings – together with the chocolate advent calendar to open and eat before breakfast.  And me?  I’m happy that we’re keeping up-to-date with our Adventslys! 😉

Today I shall be wrapping a pig.  Okay, okay, so it’s not a live one…

It’s small, cute and made of yummy marcipan….

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If you’re hosting Danish Christmas dinner on the evening of 24 December and are serving the obligatory ris à l’amande for dessert (recipe coming soon…), then you’re going to need the obligatory marcipan pig for the obligatory mandelgave or ‘almond present’.  Ris a l’amande, despite the French name, is a very Danish dessert.  It’s a heavy, cold rice pudding, ‘lightened’ (ha!) with whipped cream and specked with chopped, blanched almonds.  And served with a jug of hot cherry sauce.  Yum!  Again!

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According to tradition (which dates back a century or two) a whole blanched almond is ‘hidden’ in the dessert.  The dessert is served to the whole table and whoever finds the whole almond in their portion is ‘the Winner’.  The mandelgave (almond present) is usually a small, marcipan pig (marcipangris) but can also be a small bottle of snaps, a book, a game, you name it.  And if you have small kids, I’d suggest sneaking a whole almond into each and every little child’s bowl if you want to ensure ‘peace on earth’ on Christmas Eve… ;)

In my DDH’s (Dear Danish Husband’s) family, they go a step further and try to hide the fact that they have found the whole almond until the very end of the meal.  By hiding it in their mouth, in a pocket, under the tablecloth etc.  Just to keep everyone guessing.

Sometimes we make the pigs ourselves out of marcipan.  Just google “marcipangris” for images, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration.  Otherwise you can take the easy way out – and get your little piggies from the supermarket.

Øf, øf!  Oink, oink!  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 14 December (Et barn er født)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

14 DECEMBER

Today is Sunday, the third in Advent, so this morning the kids opened their third adventsgaver

…and we lit the third candle in our adventslysdekoration

How about a bit of Danish music today?  So far you’ve heard the ‘most played’ Danish Christmas song “Jul, det’ cool!”(a rap) and another about elves (and rats), “På loftet sidder nissen…”.  So let’s look at the archetypal Danish Christmas hymn, “Et Barn er født i Bethlehem” (A child is born in Bethlehem).  It’s one of the ones our family sings when walking around the Christmas tree after dinner on 24 December, just before the presents are handed out.  And a song you’ll hear in every single nursery, school and church.  If you are lucky enough to find an available seat in the church, that is.  The Danes are notchurchgoers – unless it’s Christmas!  Yep, most Danish churches have to bring in extra folding seats, to cope with the sudden demand… ;)

Anyway, seat or no seat, you can learn the psalm in a snap because it’s so simple – each verse contains just two lines (half of one of which is repeated) and then ”Halleluja, halleluja!”.  So even if you don’t speak Danish, can’t remember the words or your eyes can’t decipher the tiny letters on the hymn sheet, you can always join in with some hale and hearty hallelujas!

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I can play it on the piano but, instead of torturing you with my own rendition, here it is, sung by Dario Campeotto….

If you want to have a go at singing it yourself, then go check out a nifty little site called the Online Danish Hymnbook – Den Danske Salmebog Online.  You can choose whether you want to be accompanied by a church organ or piano!

Okay, clear your throats and get ready to stand up and sing! Or do as the Danes do in church…and sit down and sing? ;) (Stand up, Sit down, Sing along!)

Et barn er født i Betlehem

Mel.: 15. årh. / Lossius 1553
Tysk visemelodi omkring 1600 / A.P. Berggreen 1849

1

Et barn er født i Betlehem,
thi glæde sig Jerusalem!
Halleluja, halleluja!

2

En fattig jomfru sad i løn
og fødte Himlens kongesøn.
Halleluja, halleluja!

3

Han lagdes i et krybberum,
Guds engle sang med fryd derom:
Halleluja, halleluja!

4

Og Østens vise ofred der
guld, røgelse og myrra skær.
Halleluja, halleluja!

5

Forvunden er nu al vor nød,
os er i dag en frelser fød.
Halleluja, halleluja!

6

Guds kære børn vi blev på ny,
skal holde jul i Himmel-by.
Halleluja, halleluja!

7

På stjernetæpper lyseblå
skal glade vi til kirke gå.
Halleluja, halleluja!

8

Guds engle der os lære brat
at synge, som de sang i nat:
Halleluja, halleluja!

9

Da vorde engle vi som de,
Guds milde ansigt skal vi se.
Halleluja, halleluja!

10

Ham være pris til evig tid
for frelser bold og broder blid!
Halleluja, halleluja!

Latin 14. årh. Tysk 1545. Dansk 1544. 1569.
N.F.S. Grundtvig 1820 og 1845.

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Amen!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 13 December (Lucia)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

13 DECEMBER

Okay, so there are no prizes for guessing what I’m writing about today…  13 December means one thing and one thing only.  Santa Lucia!  A candlelight, singing procession – just before the sun comes up or goes down – on St. Lucia Day, the 13th of December.  Lead by the Lucia-brud (‘Lucia bride’) – she’s the girl with the crown of candles in her hair – her followers wearing long white robes and bearing candles.  A tradition stolen from our neighbours – those silly (but lovable) Swedes.  This is what it looked like when my DD12 took part in the procession a couple of years ago.  8.15am and it was still pitch black outside…

 Making their way through the corridors and the school library…

And, no – your eyes do not deceive you…  The girls carry real, lighted candles.  And the staff – selvfølgelig – take plenty of precautions.  One of the girls got her hair just a bit too close to the flame (have you ever noticed that almost every young Danish girl has long hair?! not a smart bob in sight!) and her hair got singed ever so slightly.  With that awful telltale smell into the bargain! 😉 But the teachers were on hand immediately and nothing worse happened.  All in a day’s work for a Danish teacher!  The Lucia girls thought it was exciting and have a story to tell.  And I’m glad to live in a country where they don’t use fear mongering and ban lighted candles – but instead carry on the tradition, use their common sense and teach the kids respect for open flames.  Hooray for those crazy Danes!  But for the faint at heart, battery operated candles are available…

If you want to hear the Lucia song, and get a real feeling of what it’s like to watch the small kids go by, here’s a cute little video from a Danish school.  Not a dry Mum’s eye in the house, I’m sure! :)

And will you be eating lussekatter today (‘St Lucia’ saffron buns)?  They’re very popular in Sweden but that tradition didn’t really catch on here in Denmark.

But, hey, be careful with those candles out there.  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 12 December (Handball and Winterbathing)

Welcome to my My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

12 DECEMBER

Just when the Danes are in the middle of stuffing themselves with æbleskiver and quaffing great quanties of snaps, julebrygand gløggthey seem to stop for a moment mid-December and forget about Christmas for a few days (or at least a few evenings) and everyone is glued to the telly.  Why?  Um, because the European Women’s Handball Championship is taking place right now.  And the Danes are c.r.a.z.y. about handball.  Not really surprising as the modern rules were made up by a Dane (a teacher at our local school) way back in 1898, and the Danes just seem to be very good at it.  Yep, interest here in Women’s handball is only surpassed by their interest in men’s handball – when the nation will once again be glued to their tellys in January.

Me?  Not a handball fan.  I get my kicks (as regular readers will know) from vinterbadning.  Winterbathing, skinny dipping in the Danish sea all year round! 🙂  Here’s a photo from this morning, about 8.15am, just as it was beginning to get light.

winterbathing

And here we are, after our second swim…sorry about the quality, but as well as being very blustery it was also raining heavily! 😛

Here’s a better photo I took last week of the Christmas tree.  Just hope it doesn’t blow away in tonight’s storm “Alexander”!

winterbathing1

The water has been really quite ‘warm’ so far this year – no sign of any snow or ice yet.  But to give you an idea of how extreme it can get, here’s a picture from when we were out swimming last January.  Note the snow and icicles on the steps…  You don’t have to be mad to be a winterbather but it helps! 😉

Keep yourselves warm, batten down the hatches for tonight’s storm and don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 11 December (Trees)

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

11 DECEMBER

Are you beginning to gear up for Christmas?  We’re dashing backwards and forwards to Christmas events and – eek – are already getting ‘behind’ with our Advent candle!  Maybe we need to burn it at both ends? 😉

Let’s talk Christmas trees!  Now, where I come from (Scotland) our trees are normally plastic and these days you can even buy them with fairy lights already attached.  Plug and play. 😉  Personally, I’d be quite happy with the artificial tree I bought when I worked at the ECJ in Luxembourg many moons ago.  That tree has served me (and børnehave ‘creche’) well.  It’s green plastic – selvfølgelig.  And green in the eco-friendly-buy-once-never-buy-again way.  But DDH (Dear Danish Husband) insists on The Real Thing.  Despite the cost.  [Ouch! Said the Canny Scot.]  But, hey ho, it’s Christmas.  And the only Christmas tradition he gives a (fresh) fig about… :P

Normally we just walk down the road to our local  pusher and hand over a small fortune.  For something that is going to adorn our living room for approximately two weeks.  [Sigh.]

Well, today I decided to cut the crapcost and buy our tree at IKEA.  Fresh, not plastic.  Not quite as tall as this one, though… C’mon everyone – put your backs into it! 😛

Along with the netting machine, they also have a nifty device for making holes in the bottom of the tree, so it can go straight into a wooden stand…

Did we select the tree in the forest ourselves and chop it down?  No!  But we paid half of what we did last year.  And they even give you an IKEA voucher for DKR 50 (UK£5.30, US$8.40) for every tree you buy…cheap at half the price!  Right now our two trees are sitting outside on the deck.  We’ll bring them in to the house next week and decorate them with plain white lights.  None of those tacky, coloured, flashing ones – it’s not the Danish way!  (Though, strangely enough, our neighbours across the Sound, those silly (but lovable) Swedes really like coloured lights/moving Santas/flashing reindeers on the roof stuff.)  Some of my Danish friends even do it the old-school way and use REAL candles on the tree.  Yep, Health and Safety forgot to make a stop in Denmark! 😉  But I just don’t dare…  So we just stick to electric fairy lights.  And then add baubles, Danish flags, our homemade hjerter (hearts) and our homemade kræmmerhuse (cones).

trees

Time to light that Advent candleand take a 15 minute break with a nice cuppa and a pebernød or two…  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)