The kids with caps…time to make some noise!

So the other day I told you about the Invasion of the kids with caps… Once they get the cap placed on their head, it doesn’t stop there. It’s time to celebrate. Big time.

It goes like this. Each High School class gets on to a truck. Which they have decorated with flowers, banners, Danish flags, etc, etc, etc. One of the most important things is the banner on the side of the truck. Which tells you which class and high school the students graduated from. And what the students will do if you wave to them or give them a toot from your car. (And, yes, everyone takes it in good spirit and toot, toot, toooooooots!) Along the lines of “1 Toot, we drink. 2 Toots, we finish the glass. 3 Toots, we’ll give you a flash.” And these Danes keep their promises…we saw several bare bottoms last year!

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And their parents/grannies/siblings/next-door-neighbours/the neighbour’s cat are on hand to give them a good send off.  Flags?  Check!  Beer?  Check!  Air horn?  Check! Loud speakers? Check! Ready for takeoff? Check! And where are they heading? On a loooooooong journey – they’ll stop at every student’s home for drinks and snacks. And – with about 25 students per class – that means that they’ll be driving around on the truck until the wee small hours of the next morning…

Alcohol, young kids and moving vehicles can be a dangerous cocktail. But the long arm of the Danish law are on hand to make sure that everything is all present and correct before take off.

At our local High Schools, there will be several trucks. Each playing different playlists. And that they play music for the entire duration of their trip around the area, usually 12 hours. Plus any passing cars or lorries will toot their horns and join in. Boom, boom. Toot, toot. Boom, boom! So it’s a very noisy afternoon and evening around these parts… Are you beginning to get the picture? Here’s a quick video I snapped of one of the trucks leaving the school (apologies for the shaky-hand) to give you a glimpse!

If you’re here in Denmark, you might want to sleep with your windows closed tonight (despite the tropical heatwave we are currently experiencing).  Because it will be the wee small hours of the next morning that these trucks finally grind to a halt, the tooting stops, the speakers are unplugged, everything is a bit blurry, it’s actually gone quite dark (despite the long Danish summer days), and we can all finally get to sleep!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂


Invasion of the kids with caps…

First there was just one or two. You didn’t notice them really. Just random dots on the landscape. Then they started popping up in the train and bus. They began to multiply. Huddled together in groups on street corners. In school halls, department stores and on the street. And – selvfølgelig – all over my Facebook feed.

What is this invasion? It’s the kids with caps!

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School’s out for summer and – for third year High School students – school is out for ever! 😄 Hence the graduation caps. Which, once it is placed on their head, doesn’t seem to leave said head for weeks and weeks… You must also remember that, here in Denmark, there is no such thing as school uniform. So lots of kids wearing the same item is a rather special sight. There was even one down at my bathing bridge this morning…

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And let’s not forget the families you will see walking around town, carrying baskets filled with flags and champagne. On their way to celebrate the big moment with their son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, sibling, nephew or niece…

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And notice how those crazy (but lovable) Danes wait patiently for the Green Man before they cross the road. Ten out of ten for good behaviour! 😄

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The shops are filled with graduation greeting cards and lots of ‘cap’ stickers, cocktail sticks and gift ribbon. Buy, buy, buy!

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But it’s not only students who are getting in on the act. Even the horse statue in the window of a local bar was wearing a graduation cap this morning!

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Oh well, you know what they say. If the cap fits, wear it..?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :mrgreen:


Witches and Midsummer on Thursday!

I spotted witches in the supermarket today…which is a sure sign that we are counting down to Sankt Hans Aften! 😉

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What is it? A huge event on the Danish social calendar – the night where you go out and celebrate St John’s Eve, probably better known as…midsummer! It falls on 23 June – which this year is Thursday.  The Danes gather around bonfires, often topped with effigies of witches – the idea being to send them off to North Germany. There are bonfires everywhere. All along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Normally around 9.30pm or 10pm, when it’s still light.

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But, hey, let’s backtrack a little! The evening usually starts with people gathering – perhaps with a picnic – down at the beach or in the forest. The evening officially starts with a short Sankt Hans Tale or “Bål Tale” (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or ‘personality’. And then the singing can start. Sometimes with live music from an orchestra or band. And, if you’re very lucky, a songsheet, so you can join in the singalong! 🙂

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You’ll be singing Midsommervisen. A.k.a. Vi elsker vort land. “We love our country.” Last year we also sang I Danmark er jeg født (“In Denmark I was born”) and Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) which you might recognise as the Danish national anthem.

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Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect, starting with the traditional version of Midsommervisen

https://youtu.be/ojqvlQQBPE8

…and here’s the modern version by Shubidua.

https://youtu.be/LHTdo1Q6eWU

Whichever version you prefer, sing up, take care and have a great night. And watch out for those low flying witches overhead…

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Diane 🙂


Star Wars and Danish Liberation Day

If you’re out and about in Denmark today, you’ll notice that the buses, official buildings and private individuals are flying the Danish flag today: Dannebrog (incidentally, the oldest national flag in the world).

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As regular readers will know, the thing I love about living among those crazy Danes is all the different traditions. Denmark is, on the face of it, a very modern country, but they have more holidays and traditions than you can stick a very big stick at. Hooray! Now, usually these special days are accompanied by a traditional Danish lunch (Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, etc), a Danish pastry (Fastelavnsboller for carnival) or bread roll (Bededag), etc.  Something edible. (More often than not washed down with a cold beer and a small snaps…)

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But Danmarks Befrielsesdag – Danish Liberation day – is marked in an entirely different way. The Germans surrendered on the Fourth of May 1945, and this message was brought to the Danes in a BBC radio broadcast at 8.36pm. (The surrender officially came into force the next morning, the Fifth of May 1945.) So many Danes will mark the occasion tonight by putting candles in their window. Just as they did on that night in 1945, when they were finally able to take down their blackout curtains (and burnt them in bonfires out on the streets) and placed candles there instead. A very beautiful and rather moving tradition that we also follow in our family.

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Happy Danish Liberation Day. May the force be with you!

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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..? 😉

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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!  😉

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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! 😉

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I hope you enjoy it!

Diane  🙂


Easter is coming…send a secret letter!

Fastelavn has been and gone. The snow has been and gone (with the occasional flurry to keep us guessing). So what’s next on the Danish calendar? Easter beer and eggs!

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The kids will be on Easter break from next Friday – woo hoo – no more pesky packed lunches until they restart on Tuesday 29 March 🙂

But you can’t have Easter in Denmark without – selvfølgelig –  a traditional Danish Easter craft. Today we’re making a gækkebrev – a secret snowdrop letter!  For which we’ll need a vintergæk (snowdrop). My garden is currently full of them. Splendid!

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If you don’t have a snowdrop, you may need to improvise. Draw one?  Now, did you know that gækkebreve are a purely Danish tradition?  I thought it was a Scandinavian thing.  But no.  It’s a crazy Dane thing.  And right now, as I type, little kids all over Denmark are sitting at home (or nursery, school, the museum or local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots.  All in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg!  More on the logistics of that later in the post…  First up, let’s get making one! :)

You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper
  • glue or a gluestick
  • a pair of scissors
  • a snowdrop

Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again.  Draw a rough shape and cut out.  If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple!  The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting.  Hans Christian Andersen(you know, the one who wrote “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Match Girl”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “Thumbelina” etc, etc, etc…) was also an expert at papercutting.  I’ve only lived here for 18 years, so I’m still learning…

Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.

Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick.  And it’s fine if it isn’tperfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)

Then you’re ready to write a little poem on it.

Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.

Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.

Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,

han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!

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But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:

Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,

Omen true of hope divine,

From the heart of winter bring

Thy delightful hope of spring.

Guess my name I humbly beg.

Your reward: An Easter-Egg.

Let these puzzling dots proclaim

Every letter in my name

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Now listen carefully.  [I shall say this only once…]  At the bottom of the gækkebrev,DON’T sign your name.  You draw a large dot for every letter of your name.  So my name, Diane, would be  . . . . .    If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg.  But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg.  So disguise your handwriting and be creative!  I usually put in three dots for M.U.M.!  ;)

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden – just draw one if need be – add it to the letter and send to a friend or loved one.   And keep your fingers crossed that theydon’t guess who it’s from…

God Påske!  Happy ……!

Diane :)


Fastelavn is coming…time to branch out?

On Tuesday I told you about Fastelavn (Danish Carnival), Fastelavnsboller (Danish Carnival buns) and how to bake your own. Today we have another carnival essential…the Fastelavnsris! (The history behind it is here.) Now you can – selvfølgelig – buy these readymade in Danish sweet shops and supermarkets. But they’re generally overpriced for what you actually get…

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Because when you take it out of the plastic packaging, um, it’s pretty disappointing – a few branches and a few sweets. So why not make your own?

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First you’ll need some bare branches. You can actually buy them at supermarkets…but at kr.20 a pop, that’s another expense too far [said the canny Scot]. So make do with some from your garden. Or beg, steal, borrow them from a neighbour… Secure the branches at the bottom with tape, an elastic (hair)band, wire or ribbon.

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Tie on lots (and lots and lots) of little packets of slik (sweets). The more the merrier! On a side note: If you have nursery kids, they’ll often receive a Fastelavnsris as a gift. Hats off to the ‘my-word-you-need-the-patience-of-a-saint-to-make-these-for-50-children’ nursery staff at this time of year! 😉

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Cut out a few shapes from coloured card and stick on. Traditional shapes are cats (remember those live cats that used to be put inside the barrels…), barrels and masks. Go mad with glue sticks and sequins… The branches should be looking quite colourful now. Add a few coloured feathers if you have them. And streamers. Whatever you have on hand and takes your fancy.

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Værsgo‘! All ready to display. (You can stick it in a vase or hang it upside down.) Or go ahead and thrash surprise a small child with it this Sunday…

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Happy Fastelavn!

Diane 🙂


Fastelavn (Danish Carnival) is fast approaching!

If you’ve walked past the window of a Danish baker’s shop recently, then you’ll already know that Fastelavn is fast approaching…

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Because the first fastelavnsboller made their appearance just as soon as Christmas was over and the New Year got underway! ;)  This year it will be celebrated on Sunday (7 February 2016).

So what’s fastelavn?  Danish carnival.  Nothing to do with the one in Rio.  I mean, honestly, would you want to dance around the cobbled streets, half-naked, peely-wally white, often in sub-zero temperatures? I think not. (Said the winter bather…)  If you want the whole historical background of the Danish festival, I suggest you go google or take a peek at Wikipedia.

Here’s what I think you need to know:

It’s celebrated seven weeks before Easter Sunday (anytime from the beginning of February til late March). For small kids, it’s the highlight of the year (aside from Christmas) – it’s basically the Danish equivalent of Halloween. Kids wear fancy dress (which, for the under 6s, is invariably a superhero or something pink and princessy).

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The kids make (or buy or receive) a fastelavnsris. Don’t despair if you don’t know what that is because I’ll be showing you how to make one of those in my next post!

You eat special fastelavnsboller! Lots of them!

There are tons of parties where the kids get a chance to slåkatten af tønden (literally ‘hit the cat out of the barrel’). Schools and kindergartens devote a whole day to the celebrations. And if your child goes to scouts or football practice, there will also be a party organised there. Not to mention events organised by public libraries, museums, local businesses and supermarkets… A tønde (large barrel, similar to a piñata) is filled with sweets and fruit. Much more politically correct than filling it with live cats, as they used to do up until the early 1800s! The barrel is then strung up and the kids take it in turns to whack it with a bat.

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The boy or girl who knocks out the bottom of the barrel is crowned as Kattedronningen (the Queen of the Cats). The person who smashes the very last piece of the barrel is crowned Kattekongen (the King of the Cats). A huge honour. You get to wear a little golden crown for your efforts. And be the envy of your friends for years afterwards.

But I digress!  Let’s get back to those buns!  We made our own fastelavnsboller last year. Check out these homemade beauties! Ready to have a go?


We based ours on Arla’s recipe. You’ll need:

  • an 8g sachet of dry yeast (or 50g pack of fresh yeast)
  • 100mls or 1 decilitre milk
  • 125g butter or Kærgården
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • about 375g of plain flour (hvedemel) – about 625mls or 6¼ deciltres.

 

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  It’s easiest to use a mixer (dough hook) but you can do it by hand if you want the upper arm exercise.  When it all comes together, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for about 45 mins.

Meanwhile prepare the filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 200mls or 2 decilitres milk
  • 1½ tablespoons of flour
  • a tablespoon of vanilla sugar

 

Put everything into a little saucepan and whisk over a high heat until the mixture comes to the boil.  Turn down the heat, keep whisking for about 5 minutes then remove from the heat and leave to cool.

When you’re bun dough is ready, roll it out on to a floured worktop and try and get it into a large rectangle.  You are aiming to cut out around 12 squares, but don’t get too perfectionist…

Bake in a preheated oven at 225c (450f) for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to get too dark.  Remove from the oven and cool before topping them with some icing or a dusting of icing sugar. Though if you want to top them with a piece of pålægschokolade (piece of thin breakfast chocolate), do it while they’re still hot!

When you’re ready to eat the fastelavnsboller, cut them horizontally and put in a (very l-a-r-g-e) dollop of whipped cream…

 

Velbekomme!

And remember to check back here later this week when I’ll be showing you how to make the other Danish Carnival essential – the Fastelavnsris!

Diane 🙂


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 – 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)!

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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 – 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 :)