Off to Danish church? Don't forget your smartphone!

One of the things I love  about Denmark (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…) is the mixture of new and old. On the face of it, Denmark is a liberal, modern, forward thinking country. When you scratch the surface, you discover the Danes’ deeply ingrained love of traditions. This morning I saw the new/old combo working in reverse.

church

We were at church for a Harvest service…

church7

It was very traditional, so there were all the usual elements you’d expect. Beautiful displays at the church entrance.

church8

 

Inside the church there were candles and flower/grain decorations at the end of every pew… (Yes, there we go again with those ubiquitous candles!)

church1

When I went to church as a child in Scotland (on a side note, the Danish and Scottish church are very similar: they are both Lutheran), a large wooden plate would be passed around  halfway through the service at Collection time. You would put in your coins as it was handed along the pew. Ching, ching! Or a little brown envelope containing your donation. When the plate made it to the other end of the pew, it was then handed to the first person in the pew behind, and off it went again. And so on and so forth. Fast forward to 2016… Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 These days you can make a donation on the way in, or on the way out. In our church, the collection box is fixed to the end of the first pew.

church6

Oh, but hang on a minute, we’re in Denmark, right? Where most people don’t carry small change or banknotes. You see, we hardly ever use cash: we use our bank cards or our phones to pay for things. Remember my post from 2014? Cash ain’t King when you don’t have a Crown? Never fear! The church has thought of everything! Did you notice the little sticker above the collection box? With the ‘Mobile Pay’ or ‘Swipp’ app on your smartphone, you simply type in your donation and press send.

church3

And, voilà, it’s done! No more fiddling around, desperately looking for coins underneath the sofa cushions or in your Dad’s coat pockets, before heading out to church. Less risk for the church of having the collection box stolen.

donation

Hallelujah! Have a super Sunday!

Diane 🙂

 

 

 

 


Attention! It's Ascension!

Hot on the heels of Big Prayer Day, I bring you yet another public service announcement…

This Thursday, 5 May 2016, we have yet another religious holiday where Denmark will basically be closed for business. What’s the occasion this time? Kristi Himmelfart. Literally, Christ’s Sky Flight. Or Ascension, as is the more boring name in English. Oh, yes, I may have lived in Copenhagen for 18 years but the Danish word ‘fart‘ still brings out the child in me! Don’t you just love the elevator buttons in Danish stations..? 😉

elevator

But, as usual, I digress! Attention! Where were we? Ascension. Oh yes, Thursday is closed and Danish schools make ‘a bridge’ for this particular holiday and so schools will also be closed on Friday 6 May. But most workplaces will be open for business as usual.

And what do the Danes do for Ascension? Just like our last holiday (Big Prayer Day), it’s high season for confirmations, a spot of gardening and – if the Danish weather gods are with us – enjoying some hot and sunny weather. So far we have had a very cold spring. As regular readers will know, I’m a winterbather, and our sea temperature has been stuck on 5c/41f for weeks and weeks… Cheers with a hot cuppa!

10

Have a great Kristi Himmelfart!

Diane 🙂

 


Big Prayer Day? Time for big rolls!

With Easter behind us, we are counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar. This Friday, 22 April, is Stor Bededag. ’Big Prayer Day’! Those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year. So they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter and – voilà – Stor Bededag was born. It’s an official holiday so Denmark will be ‘closed’ on Friday, and the kids are off school. It’s time to get out in the garden, work on a DIY project, make a trip to Tivoli Gardens or just chill at home. And eat big rolls! (More on that later in this post.) But many Danes will make a day trip to Sweden or Germany, where it’s business as usual and cash registers will be working overtime.

Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray.  And, though I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings and weddings), a lot of Danes will be attending church this Friday.  Not for regular church services but for confirmation ceremonies. Which was actually the case for us last year, when it was our son’s turn to go through this very traditional Danish rite of passage…

bededag

 

Want to know more about Danish confirmation and the traditional “Blue Monday” that follows it?  Then go read my post “When Blue Monday isn’t New Order!”

But the biggest tradition associated with Stor Bededag is eating hveder on Thursday night.  What are hveder?  Large, fluffy, pale, basic white bread rolls which you halve, toast and butter.  You’ll find them on sale at the bakers but be warned that – despite their modest ingredients – they don’t come cheap!

I gave up queuing for them at the bakers years ago and just buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket.  Best enjoyed warm with a nice cuppa!

After you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel).  You don’t live near Kastellet?  Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel…  (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen. Oh! And let’s not forget the third season of Broen/Bron/The Bridge 😉

Picnic på Kastellet” (Picnic at the Citadel).

And me? I’m praying for some warmer weather. It has been exceptionally chilly (not to mention wet and windy) so far this spring, so we’re still waiting for everything to start blooming.

bededag2

God Stor Bededag!

Diane :)


Getting ready for Easter

If you live here in Denmark you’ll have noticed that the Danes are getting ready for Easter. They celebrate in big style, and the country will basically shut down tonight, Wednesday.  Despite being very low-key about religion, most of Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  So although you may find the occasional food store open, schools are closed, as are council offices and most businesses. Plus libraries and post offices (don’t expect to receive mail or parcels).  Museums, your local swimming pool and fitness club may have special opening hours. Buses and trains may be running on ‘holiday’ schedules. Check before you head out!  😉

easter2

Today – Wednesday – is the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink – not a Christmas gift in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday). Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

easter3

And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays? Well, they don’t really head for church – they save that for Christmas. No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends. To get out in the garden. And get the garden furniture out (if you didn’t do it when spring officially started in Denmark on 1 March). Do some DIY. Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather! Here’s my DS16, many years ago, at our Swedish cabin, about to dig into some Easter chocolate…

IMAG7949

Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay. Lots of eating and drinking. So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials. And what do the Danes eat? Lamb selvfølgelig. Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps. And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork). One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look herefor more about them.

easter4

Get them while they’re hot!

There’ll be lots of cheese. Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs. Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer! My recipe is here.

IMAG1036

And now? Let us pray. And hope the Danish weather gods are with us!

Skål! God Påske!

And if you are bored over Easter, then why not enjoy a good book. My cozy crime novel, set in Denmark, is finally here! “Death Comes to Strandvig” is now available on amazon – for less than the price of a cup of coffee! Links here to the international store and the UK store. Set in a small Danish town, there is plenty of hygge, a lot of winterbathing, traditional Danish food, iconic Scandinavian design, terrible jokes, a little romance and – selvfølgelig – a dead body! 😉

book cover goodreads

I hope you enjoy it!

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 – 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!

et barn

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.

* * * * * *

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

Diane :)


To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part Three)

Our DS14 (dear son, aged 14) is at the age where many young Danes get ‘confirmed’ and, if you saw Part One and Part Two, you’ll know that he’s been in a bit of a quandary. To be, or not to be (confirmed).  That is the question!

Well, he’s been attending the confirmation prep classes (which, you will remember, are scheduled into the Danish school timetable) and has also been at church on Sundays. Now, to be honest, it’s not because he has a burning desire to get out of bed early on Sunday mornings. I men, let’s face it, teenagers have no burning desire to get out of bed at all on Sundays! 😛  No, he’s been going to church with his cronies because, in order to be confirmed, you also have to attend a church service at least 10 times during the prep classes.  No cheating!  “So how do you prove that?”, says I.  “Well, Mum, I make sure to shake the minister’s hand at the end of the service.”  “Ah,” says I, “but the kids could also just say that they’ve attended a service at another church in the area, and no-one would ever know?”  “Hmm,” says DS14, “then you’d need some proof – like a photo of you inside the church or a copy of the Order of Service!”  Ha, serious stuff! 😛

As I sent him off on his bike on Sunday morning, I handed him DKR 20 (about USD 3.30, UK£2.10) for the collection plate.  And then I had a thought…what does the collection go to?  They can’t be raising money for a new roof or radiators for the church (as sometimes is the case in Scotland) – because here in Denmark the church is funded by the state. DS14 told me that all monies collected must go to charity, the church isn’t allowed to ‘make money’.  Good show!

But back to the quandary.  To be, or not to be (confirmed).  Well, DS14 wants to go ahead.  Which means that we can also go ahead and tell family/close friends to keep the date free and book their ferries and flights.  And start thinking about a venue, outfits, gifts, speeches and songs…phew, or should that be pew?!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane 🙂

 


10 November? Duck for dinner!

My DDH (Dear Danish Husband) often accuses (is that the right word?!) me of being more Danish than the Danes.  You see, I ♥ traditions. And in Denmark there are just so many of the dang things – hooray – that I sometimes tend to go a bit overboard.  Take today, for example – 10 November:

DDH walks into kitchen:  Oh, duck for dinner tonight?  Great!

Me:  Well, selvfølgelig, we’re having duck, honey.  It’s the 10th of November!

DDH:  Um, eh, oh yes, just didn’t realise the date…

Me:  Yep, Mortensaften (“Morten’s Evening”), the day when all good Danes should be eating duck!

DDH:  Um, great!  But we never actually celebrated Mortensaften in my family when I was a kid…

Well, we do now!  So duck for dinner it is.  A kind of mini run through for 24 December, when the Danes eat duck for their Christmas dinner…

So why are the Danes eating duck tonight, 10 November?  Well, it all goes back to the year 371 when Saint Morten (ok, make that Saint Martin), a French munk, was forced into being a bishop.  The story goes that Morten (um, Martin) didn’t want the job, so tried to make a quick exit and hid himself in the nearest barn – which turned out to be full of geese.  The geese said “quack, quack, quack!” and Saint Morten (um, Martin) was discovered!  Boo!  Hiss!  And so – to get back at those pesky geese that gave the game away – the Danes eat goose (um, make that duck) on the evening of 10 November. (St Martin’s Day is 11 November.)

Velbekomme!  Or perhaps I should say bon appétit?  ‘Cos tonight we’re having French confit de canard (out of a tin).  Yum!

Have a marvelous Monday!

Diane 🙂

 

 


To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part two)

Okay, back to my DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14) and his forthcoming “confirmation” preparation classes.  Or, as they call it here, “at gå til præst” (“go to the priest”).  And no, it has nothing to do with the very smelly, rather rude looking mushroom I showed you in Monday’s post! ;P  “That smell? Must be the priest…

As I told you in Part one, confirmation preparation is scheduled into the school timetable.  Not having any previous experience (we don’t have the same tradition in the Church of Scotland) I hadn’t realised that – duh – we actually had to sign him up for the preparation classes. Oops!  Luckily, there wasn’t a problem with that.  Just a simple case of filling out a form (available online from the local church’s website) and hot-footing it over to the parish office…

So far so good!  Though, as we had feared, we didn’t really have any choice as to the actual date of the church service next spring (April/May 2015).  Out of the four or five possible days, there was only one date still available.  Take it or leave it!  The church has to limit the number of “konfirmander” (kids being confirmed) to 20 for each service to avoid the ceremony dragging on and on and on.  Not to mention the logistics of bums on seats bottoms on pews.  But, hey, at least we now have an actual date!  And can therefore tell family and our close friends to keep the date free. 🙂

So far so good!  Though now that we’ve started to tell people the date, they naturally ask where the celebratory lunch/party is going to be held…  At home?  A tent in the backgarden?  A local restaurant?  Time for DDH (dear Danish Husband) and I to sit down and start some serious planning!

So far so good!  Last weekend a letter came through the letterbox from the minister with lots of information and confirming the date of the church service.  He (the minister happens to be a ‘he’ but happily we have plenty of female ministers in Denmark too) went on to explain that he would actually be leading not one but two services that day, in order to accommodate everyone.  So would we prefer 10 am or 12 pm?  Not sure what the most popular choice is.  Perhaps 10am, so that you can sit down to an early lunch?  Well, given that most of our family will be making the journey by car+ferry from Jutland (the other side of Denmark), we’ve asked for the late slot.  Don’t want to run any risks and people singing, “Get me to the church on time!”

So far so good!  Phew!  And we can be thankful that it’s our boy being confirmed first. Have you seen the prices of confirmation dresses?  Extortionate, even at half the price!

Exciting times…stay tuned to find out more!

Diane 🙂


To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part One)

As you saw in my Monday post – Back to (the new) school (reform)! – my two little darlings are back at school and life has returned to normal.  Or is this just the calm before the proverbial storm?  We may be coming up for a turbulent six months.  Should we be ringing round relatives?  Looking at venues?  Choosing outfits?  Making wishlists?

Why?  Well just look at this autumn’s school timetable for DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14)

Don’t see it?  Look closely!

Yes, besides the usual suspects of French, Maths, Christianity, Modern Studies, etc, etc, etc, there’s a new kid on the block.  “Præst” (Priest). Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from 2 til 2.50pm.  The official name is “konfirmationsforberedelsen” (confirmation preparation).  Our DS14 has just started 8th grade and is therefore coming up to the first (should he choose to accept it) ‘milestone’ in his life. Confirmation.  To be, or not to be (confirmed).  That is the question!

My DDSIL (Dear-Danish-Sister-in-Law) was already on the phone to us last year, asking if she and DDBIL should keep any weekends in April or May 2014  free for a possible confirmation celebration.  Say what?  Well, in Jutland, children are confirmed in the 7th grade.  So she was just phoning to be on the safe side.  Anyway, here in Copenhagen, it’s 8th grade.  So the time is, um, almost now.  Yikes!  Time to find a party venue!

Now, here’s something which floored me…  “Confirmation preparation” is part of the Danish school timetable.  Imagine that! In a country where I have yet to meet someone who is a churchgoer! 😛  But even though it’s factored in to the school day, participation at the classes is entirely voluntary.  As well as church rituals and some Bible study, the preparation classes delve into life’s big questions.  Birth, death, love, sex, education, friendships, work/life balance, marriage…

DS14 is undecided about the whole Danish rite of passage.  On the one hand, there is the lure of a party in his honour, with songs and speeches by friends and family.  (Very similar to a Danish wedding!)  Not to mention the even more alluring prospect of gifts and lots of cool cash. Remember my post When Blue Monday isn’t New Order?  In 2011 the average amount of gifts raked in by ‘konfirmander’ was a staggering 17,000 kroner (US $3,200 or GB £1,980).  Give us the money! 😉

On the other hand, DS14 is very scientific (well, yes, he’s in a special Biotech class, for Pete’s sake!) and swears by The Big Bang.  (The theory and the television series.)  So feels it would be wrong to be confirmed in church as he doesn’t “believe” in God.    As parents, we’ve told him that the decision is entirely up to him.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) was confirmed when he was a lad but today is an atheist.  I’m not confirmed (we don’t have the equivalent in the Church of Scotland) and know nothing about the Bible, but I do believe that there is a God.  Of some kind.

Funnily enough, I bumped into our old parish priest (she christened our DD12 when DD was a babe in arms) down at the sea the other week . The priest (or, minister, as we say in Scotland) asked how the kids were getting on and I mentioned DS14’s dilemma. She said, “Tell him not to take it so seriously!”  She thought that it was a real shame that so much pressure put on the kids to “believe” or “measure their faith” and she herself encouraged them to relax and enjoy the tradition.  Who doesn’t love a party?  Besides – as the Danes are always quick to point out – confirmation is not in fact the child saying “Yes” to God.  It’s God saying “Yes” to the child! 😉

But back to DS14.  To be, or not to be (confirmed)?  Well, for the moment, he’s decided to “gå til præst” and take part in the classes.  And make a reasoned decision (complete with venn diagrams?) later.

Watch this space!  There might be more between heaven and earth…

Diane 🙂


Tea and hot rolls Thursday = Big Prayer Day Friday

With the excitement of Eurovision behind us, my kids are now eagerly counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar.  Okay – let’s be honest – they’re really just counting down to yet another day off school! 😉  On Friday they’ll be able to have a lie in because it’s Stor Bededag.  ’Big Prayer Day’!  Yep, those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year.  So they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter, and – voilà – Stor Bededag was born.  Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray.  And, though I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings and weddings), a lot of Danes will be attending church this Friday.  Not for regular church services but for confirmation ceremonies.

Want to know more about Danish confirmation and Blue Monday that follows it?  Then go read my post “When Blue Monday isn’t New Order!”

But the biggest tradition associated with Stor Bededag is eating hveder on Thursday night.  What are hveder?  Large, fluffy, pale, basic white bread rolls which you halve, toast and butter.  You’ll find them on sale at the bakers but be warned that – despite their modest ingredients – they don’t come cheap!

I gave up queuing for them at the bakers years ago and just buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket.  Best enjoyed warm with a nice cuppa! 🙂

After you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel).  You don’t live near Kastellet?  Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel…  (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen

Picnic på Kastellet” (Picnic at the Citadel).

Personally, I’m praying for dry skies. We’ve had torrential rain here in Copenhagen for the past three or four days. Enough already!

God Stor Bededag!

Diane :)


Denmark is closing for Easter! Buy! Buy! Buy!

If you’re new to Denmark, then you had better stop frittering away your time on the internet.  Get out RIGHT NOW and stock up!  Yep, the Danes celebrate Easter in big style and the country will basically shut down on Wednesday night.  Despite being very low-key about religion, Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  Completely closed.  Imagine that…the shops are closed for more days than over Christmas!  Schools, council offices and businesses are also closed. Libraries and post offices too (plus don’t expect to receive mail or parcels).  Museums, your local swimming pool and fitness club may have special opening hours. Buses and trains may be running on ‘holiday’ schedules.  Check before you head out!  And the streets are deserted…  Easter is not the time to visit Denmark! 😉

So you have to do your grocery shopping NOW.  Stock up big time. And if possible, avoid Wednesday – that’s the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink – not a Christmas present in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday).  Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays?

Well, they don’t go to church, that’s for sure (they save that for Christmas.)  No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends.  To get out in the garden.  And get the garden furniture out (if you didn’t do it when we changed to summertime on 30 March) .  Do some DIY.  Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather…

Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay.  Lots of eating and drinking.  So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials.  And what do the Danes eat?  Lamb selvfølgelig.  Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps.  And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork),  One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look here for more about them.

Get them while they're hot!

There’ll be lots of cheese.  Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs.  Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer!  My recipe is here.

And now?  Let us pray.  And hope the Danish weather gods are with us! 

Skål!  God Påske!

Diane  :)


Back to school. Amen?

The Christmas and New Year break is now officially over.  All the decorations are down, we’ve eaten the last of the goodies and – much to the kids’ dismay – school restarted today! 😉

DD11 (Dear Daughter, 11) has a rather strange book for Religion at the moment.  It’s The Bible.  But not as we know it, Jim…

“Manga Messias”.  The Bible.  Manga style!  Read from back to front (but translated into Danish).

Ummm, you better look away now if you’re squeamish! 😛

Yep, “graphic” cartoon certainly sums it up…

Here’s to a nice, quiet Monday!

Diane 🙂

 


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 12 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, 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

So far you’ve heard the ‘most played’ Danish Christmas song “Jul, det’ cool!”(a rap) and a Danish kids’ Christmas song about elves and rats, “På loftet sidder nissen…”.

Today I give you 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 dancing 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 not churchgoers – 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!

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.

* * * * * *

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

Diane :)


Danish Weddings (Part Two)

So, in Danish Weddings (Part One), I told you about the Danish marriage ceremony.

Now that we’ve said “Ja!” (Yes!) to each other and are officially married, what next?  Well, let’s get the party started, selvfølgelig! 🙂

Danish weddings involve lots and lots (and lots) of kissing.  You’ll need to keep your wits about you!

Keep your ears open:

Ching, ching!  Ching, ching, ching!   Someone starts tapping a knife on their wine glass or plate.  Then everyone joins in.  Ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, chiiiiiiiiiing!  And you don’t stop making the noise until the Happy Couple get out of their seats, stand up on their chairs, carefully reach out towards one another (careful, mind you don’t fall!) and kiss.   Mwa!  And skål! (Cheers!)

Repeat at random.  Over.  And over.

Keep your eyes open:

You also need to keep your eye firmly fixed on the Bride and Groom.  If, at any point, the Groom leaves the room to go wee-wee, then it’s open season on the Bride!

The men dash over to her, and queue up to give her a kiss.

 

Given that we are in liberal Denmark and there is full equality, the opposite applies selvfølgelig if the Bride leaves the room.  Then all the ladies have a chance to go smooch the Groom.  You might want to make sure that the Bride and Groom are drinking plenty of water, so they’ll need to leave the room often.  Otherwise you’ll just have to lure them out under false pretences.  Perfectly acceptable!

Join me next time for the next round of Danish Wedding traditions!

Diane 🙂