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!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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 :)

Halloween! And the Marsh Woman is brewing…

Woop, woop!  It’s Friday and – for the kids and the young at heart – also Halloween!  The weather in Copenhagen is perfect for a spooky night: our clocks went back on Sunday so it’s twilight by 5pm, there’s a real chill in the air and it’s not really raining but just damp. Yesterday morning we had hard frost but the most beautiful sunshine.  I went running in the park with a friend at 8am and – boom – we both exlaimed, “Mosekonen brygger!” 🙂

“Mosekonen” means “the Woman of the Marsh”.  And when there’s a ground mist like this, the Danes say that the Woman of the Marsh is brewing!  Poetic, non?

When I first moved to Copenhagen 16 years ago, Halloween wasn’t really a big deal. Very few people had lit, carved pumpkins outside their doors.  There were just two or three costumes you could choose from at Fætter BR (the Danish toyshop chain).  I always had a huge bowl of sweets ready…but no-one ever rang the bell! 😕

Nowadays it’s common for kids to go door to door asking “Gys eller Guf?” (Trick or Treat?).  And many will bake cakes or treats to take into school.  Here’s the batch my DD12 (dear daughter, aged 12) made for her Manga drawing class.

And it’s not just the kids who are getting into Halloween here.  Even the makeup ladies in our local MATAS (Danish chemist shop/drugstore chain) had ‘scary’ black and white Halloween painted faces this morning…  Hee hee, made a nice change from the ubiquitous ‘orange’ faces!  I’m being kept busy too…  My DS14 (dear son, aged 14) has his entire class (28 – count’ em – boys and girls!) coming here for a party tonight.  Yikes!  Or should that be Eeeeeek?

Let’s just hope we have enough crisps, cakes and sweets to stop them from turning into…right little monsters! 😈

Have a fabulous and frightful Friday!

Diane 🙂

Granny, your Mum's Mum and your uncle Bob!

Hello, hello  – yes, I’m still here!  I haven’t been away on holiday, honest.  I’ve actually been unable to post since the end of last week (the Denmark website was moved to a new server and some gremlins apparently went along for the ride).  But, hey ho, the editors here tell me that we’re all good, so finally I can write, write, write!

Tivoliis open for Halloween at the moment, so I took the kids in there on Sunday afternoon…

Pumpkins, spiders and limbs galore and lots of other spooky stuff.  Yes, yes, we even braved Hotel Scary.  And, yes, yes, I was the one who screamed loudest!

Anyway, after the shows and rollercoasters, we wandered around the gardens looking at the stalls.  DD12 (Dear Daughter, aged 12) spotted some personalised mugs – you know the type…

Maybe we should buy some as a Christmas present for Granny and Grandad in Scotland? Now, dear Reader, in Denmark you have a choice of three mugs for Granny. Listen up, I shall say this only once!

“Mormor” which is literally “Mum’s Mum”.  “Farmor” which is literally “Dad’s Mum”.  And “Bedstemor” which is Grandmother or Granny.

And another three for Grandad.  “Farfar” which is literally “Dad’s Dad”.   “Morfar” which is literally “Mum’s Dad”.  [On a sidenote: the Danish expression to “tage en morfar” means to take a nap! 😉 ]  And finally we have “Bedstefar” which is Grandfather or Grandad.  

So you just need to decide if the gift is for your Granny on your maternal or paternal side and…Bob’s your uncle! 😛

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂


Read all about it! No more tomato, tomahto…

Several moons back, I told you that I have a tiny niggle about Danish libraries.  Now, to be honest, it was really only an incy wincy niggle – because, oh my word, how I love our Danish libraries!  You see, I thought it was reallyconfusing to have English language books split up into two different sections (British English or American English).  So you would often have to look in both sections before you could find the book you were looking for…    Danish Libraries (Part Three) – You say tomato, I say tomahto…

Anyway.  I was perusing the (beautiful) shelves of our local library on Thursday and it suddenly hit me…

Bam!  They’ve now put the whole lot together! “English and American” 🙂

Much better!  And a lot easier to browse…

And who did I need to thank for this marvelous – and no doubt very time consuming – reshuffle?  A librarian called Maria. “Tak, Maria!” 😀

On the other hand, I’m really pleased that they’ve still retained a sub-section of English and American novels…  My favourite genre, Crime!

There are shelves and shelves of English crime novels and it’s nice to be able peruse at leisure and find new authors to try.  Though I’m definitely the cosy crime type (like “Death under the Dryer” by Simon Brett, “August Heat” by Andrea Camilleri and “Bellfield Hall” by Anna Dean).  None of the heavy stuff, thank you very much.  Let’s keep it (u)hyggelig!

Have a marvelous (marvellous…) Monday!

Diane 🙂


That smell? Must be the priest…

A word of warning about today’s post: genteel ladies should stop reading now.  Or at least go and fetch their smelling salts…

‘Tis currently the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness here in Denmark.  Misty – well, very damp and dewey – in the mornings, so remember to keep a cloth handy for wiping down your bike seat…

Fruitful because, whenever my back is turned, our two apple trees dump their booty on the lawn.

Danish kids are starting to collect chestnuts (Don’t know what to do with them? Here are some ideas!) and the world and his Danish wife are swapping the beach for walks in the forest. Several friends have posted pictures on facebook of their mushroom spoils, so I was delighted when I found several different types of toadstool on Saturday morning.  Don’t worry – we didn’t eat or pick them.  They all seemed to be hallucinogenic and/or highly deadly…  But beauties all the same!

But I digress!  (Ladies: smelling salts at the ready!)  Anyway, I suddenly got a whiff of what can only be described as sewage or rotting carcass.  And spied this, towering out of the ground…  What on earth?! 😯

“Ah ha!” exclaimed DDH (Dear Danish Husband).  “You’ve found Præstens Pik!” Which, excuse my French, translates as “the Priest’s Dick” or “the Priest’s Penis”.  I thought he was making it up but, no, that’s what those crazy Danes call it.  The latin name is phallus impudicus, and it’s a variety of “stinksvamp” (“smelly mushroom” or stinkhorn).  Now, I got the reference to the shape but asked hubby why on earth the poor priest had to be involved?  “Well, you see, it doesn’t get used and is in a state of decay…”  Ugh, wish I’d never asked!

And the end of the story?  Turns out it’s the only mushroom I found that isn’t poisonous.

And it’s edible.  Velbekommen! 😛


Oh what, wow, he's the greatest dancer! Marvelous!

It’s Friday!  Which means I’m in the mood for dancing!  [And ‘romancing’ – anyone else remember the Nolan Sisters?]

And nothing hits the spot like a bit of Marvelous Mosell…  Remember him?  (See Friday Fun – It’s Marvelous! Mosell!)  The Danish rapper who mixes his own ‘fly’ lyrics with classic tunes.  All topped off with crazy videos!   And – for those of you learning Danish – there are usually subtitles. 

Here he is – with a bit of help from Chic and Sister Sledge – with a tale of his exploits as Den Bedste Dancer (the greatest dancer)…


 “Der var både bajere og hash,

men jeg sagde: Stik mig bare en

kærnemælk i et snavset glas

med et sugerør i

og gør det i en fart, for jeg er sørme tørstig!”

“There was beer and hash

but I said: Give me some

buttermilk in a dirty glass

with a straw, and do it nifty

‘cos I’m really thirsty” 😉


So, anyone for the slosh?

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂

You know you're in Denmark when… (Slut!)

You know you’re in Denmark when your daughter finishes off every single story she writes with the word…”Slut”!

Before you go calling in the child psychologists, you should know that “slut” is Danish for “The End”.  And in Denmark you’ll see the word emblazoned on everything from power-point presentations to TV screens… 

Have a terrific Tuesday!  The End!

Diane 😉

PS:  A reader reminded me of another “slut” picture – from our family trip to Møn (the White Cliffs of Denmark) in October 2010.  Here it is, in case you missed it first time…  End of Sale!  “Slutspurt”!

Okay.  I promise.  This is definitely The End! 😉



Danish Libraries (Part Three) – You say tomato, I say tomahto…

[This post is also published over at – the official
website of Denmark run by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs]

It’s no secret that I think Danish libraries are fab.  I mean, really, what’s not to love about our local library where children are allowed – nay, encouraged – to crawl along on top of the book shelves? ;D

(‘Where are we?’ Wednesday? – Climbing the Walls)  Or perhaps you’d prefer a free cuppa, in a setting that looks like your granny’s front parlour? (Tea with your Tolstoy?)

Danish libraries are overflowing with things you can borrow.  For free, selvfølgelig.  DVDs, Blu-Ray, CDs, Wii games, wooden jigsaws, kids’ boardgames, books on tape, international magazines.  And even books (and e-books).  And not just Danish books!  German, Arabic, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Norwegian, French, Turkish.  Even in the children’s section.

But if, dear reader, you’re looking for a novel in English, prepare yourself for an extra hunt.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re looking for Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”.  You’d walk past 82.7 (Spanish Literature), 82.8 (Portuguese Literature) and expect to find it here in section 83 (English Literature).  Right?

Wrong!  You need to pass ten to fifteen bookshelves, filled with authors from A to Z.  And go round the corner…  To section 83.8.  “American Literature”.

Yep, those crazy Danish librarians split English books into British English and American English.  So you need to know in advance if the book you’re interested in is written in American or British English.  Isn’t that overcomplicating things?  Can’t they just put them all together?

“Aha!”, I said, to the librarian, sensing a tiny chink in the armour of the Danish cataloging system. “What if the author is Canadian.  Is that classed as British or American English?  Surely that’s a grey (or should that be gray…) area?  Books by Indian authors?  South Africa?  New Zealand?  Or books translated from Japanese into English?”

“Well,” said the librarian – playing the proverbial trumph card – “if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the shelves, we can always look it up on the computer.” 😉

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂