24 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ve been giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

And guess what…the Big Day is finally here! 🙂

24 December 2015

So what do the Danes typically do today? Like every other day in December, it will be a day of eating and drinking and generally being merry. Many Danes will attend a church service – there are services in the morning or afternoon (no services in the evening because that would clash with dinner) and again on the morning of 25 December. Last year we attempted to go to church but, alas, got there too late. The car park and side streets were full (a sure giveaway) and (if you forgive the Christmas pun) there was literally no room left at the inn! ;-)  Every year the church brings in extra seats for services on 24 December but, alas, it was standing room only…  Which wasn’t really an option for my DSM80 (Dear Scottish Mum, aged 80).  Yep, that old chestnut about those crazy Danes never going to church except for the 24 December is truly alive and well! :)  So instead we came home and watched a church service on the telly. Which was just as hyggelig!

There is no set time for Danish Christmas dinner. Light falls at around 3.30/4pm and the streets are very quiet until around 5.30/6pm when they are suddenly busy with people walking and driving to visit their families. And what’s for dinner? Goose, duck and/or roast pork. Our family always eats duck. Along with prunes and apple, warm pickled red cabbage, caramelised potatoes (cooked in a hot syrup of butter and sugar) and boiled potatoes, gravy and hot salted crisps.

You already know what dessert is…ris à l’amande (my post from 22 December)!

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But who will find the whole almond and win this year’s mandelgave (marcipan pig)?

After dinner everyone dances round the Christmas tree. Very carefully – watch where you put your feet! Lots of pressies under there, you see!

Then you start picking out gifts to open, one by one…

Which generally takes us – with short breaks for drinks and konfekt (homemade sweets) – about 2 hours! Last year we woke up to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the morning of 25 December! No sign of snow this year. The temperature has been incredibly mild. Climate change, anyone?

I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. Merry Christmas! See you on the other side. Or on the bathing jetty!

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Diane :)

 


23 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen.Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

23 December 2015

One sleep to go, woop woop! Today is Lille Juleaften – 23 December – which is “Little Christmas Eve” here in Denmark.  The last day of school for kids and the last shopping day (tomorrow all the shops in our village will be closed – though, in a pinch, you might be able to find a petrol station/minimarket open). I’ll be putting the rice on to cook for the traditional ris à l’amande dessert so that we are half-prepped for the Big Day tomorrow.

I was late in feeling the Christmas spirit this year. (My Dad died at the end of September, so it is going to be a very different Christmas for us.)  But we had friends over for dinner the other night (always fun watching our kids play hide and seek together!) and it meant we could pretend it was Christmas Eve, exchange some gifts and…

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eat more of all that lovely konfekt that we made!

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This weekend we also had some very yummy julefrokoster (lunches)…rugbrød (ryebread) with all the different toppings.  Here are a few of the things you’ll typically come across:

  • marinerede sild (marinated herring with 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)

  • rullepølse med løgringe og sennep (rolled pork with ‘italian salad’ which is basically peas and carrot pieces mixed with mayo)

  • frikadeller (Danish meatballs)
  • ost (cheese)

.

Phew, I need a brisk walk after all that. Or perhaps a nap! 😉

One sleep to go. See you tomorrow, when I’ll be opening the door for the last time this Christmas!

Diane :)


22 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

22 December 2015

A few days ago I told you that I had been buying some marcipan pigs which will be our mandelgave–  the prize for finding the whole almond in the pudding at Christmas dinner on 24 December. So today we have the pudding itself – ris à l’amande! :)

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And 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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See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


21 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

21 December 2015

Do you have a family activity at Christmas? Ours is a trip to Tivoli and must include, in addition to several rides on Rutschebanen (the park’s oldest and most popular roller coaster) and Dæmonen (‘the Demon’ loop the loop rollercoaster), a nostalgic trip down memory lane on the chair’o’planes! 😉

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Everyone congregrates in front of Nimb to take a picture of the swans.

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How about a king size reindeer?

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This winter has been incredibly mild – I’ve hardly been wearing my woolly hat. At all. But I still remember the days of pushing our son round the Tivoli Christmas market in his buggy, all wrapped up in his ski suit, when it was minus 7c (19.4f) with a bracing windchill and hard snow everywhere – yikes! It may not be ‘Christmassy’ but I will settle for this year’s light rain! (Son is 15 now and daughter is 13.)

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But this year the highlight of our Christmas so far has been…Star Wars VII! I promise no spoilers! But I can tell you that, thankfully, we weren’t the cinemagoers these Storm Troopers were looking for! 😉

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May the force be with us!

See you tomorrow!

Diane 🙂

 

 

 

 


20 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

20 December 2015

Only four sleeps to go til Danish Christmas! Woo hoo! High time to talk Christmas trees! First off, you should know that, traditionally, the Danes have ONE Christmas tree. Not one Christmas tree in the living room, one tree in the dining room, one tree in the kids room etc, etc. Like the Highlander, there can be only one! 😀

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 or dried) 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, last year I decided to cut the crap cost 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! :-P

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 normally do. 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! In Denmark you leave your tree outside until about a week before Christmas then decorate 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,real candles on girls heads for Lucia, real candles on the Christmas tree. 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). In olden days, the tree would be hung with edible goodies (fruit, nuts, cookies).

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Time to switch on the fairy lights (yes, it’s dark here from about 3.30pm til 8.30am), sit back and admire our handiwork with a cup of warming Christmas tea. Everyone say “Ahhhhh!”…

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


19 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

19 December 2015

Danish supermarkets are pushing lots of marcipan (the bog-standard yellow kind, plus some rainbow colours) right now…

You’ll also see tons of Danish nougat (a very soft brown fudge, not to be confused with French white nougat or Spanish túrro) for sale.

If you take marcipan + nougat + some dried fruits (dates, apricots, crystallised ginger, etc)…

…and plenty of chocolate, then you are ready to make konfekt! Danish homemade sweets. 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, along with some clementines and a cup of Christmas tea.

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! ;)

This year we also made some marcipan snitter (slices) by rolling out three different colours/flavours of marcipan, layering them up, pressing them together and cutting them into diamond shapes. Not that I’ll be eating any of these myself – they’re mindnumbingly sweet. Give me chocolate instead, please! 😉

Time to finish off and clear up…

Velbekomme!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


18 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

18 December 2015

Okay, this is going to be a post with lots and lots of photos.  So go grab a cup of tea, or gløgg, and get ready to relax for a few minutes with your feet up! :P

Each year my BFFs and I make a point of going to see an exhibition by the Grand Old Lady of Christmas Designer Decorations, Jette Frölich.  She started designing back in 1966 and has basically devoted her whole life to designing Christmas ornaments. And spends the whole year designing the next year’s collection!  (I’ve seen her exhibition each year since I moved here in 1998.) Entrance is free. But have plenty of money ready if you actually want to buy ornaments because – although a lot of them are made of paper – they don’t come cheap!

There are lots of staff on hand to help you choose, ring up your items at the till and – a major job – relighting all those candles. Yes, imagine that, the candles you can see in these pictures are real. Naked flames all over the place: on draughty windowsills, near dried twigs and paper decorations. Enough to make the fire inspectors choke on their gløgg

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Just keep your fire extinguisher (or, in a real emergency, a bottle of soda that you shake vigorously first will also do a sterling job) at the ready!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


17 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

17 December 2015

Last week when I was out on the town with my BFFs, I bought a pig. In fact, I went the ‘whole hog’ (boom, boom!) and bought two little piggies. Okay, so they aren’t real live ones. But they are organic, covered in chocolate and made of yummy marcipan. And part and parcel of a traditional Danish Christmas…

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You see, 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 – and making sure you have several prizes on hand – if you want to ensure ‘peace on earth’ on Christmas Eve… ;)

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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 a supermarket.

Or from a posh sweetie shop.

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As they say around these parts, øf, øf!  Oink, oink!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


16 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

16 December 2015

I don’t know about you, but here in Denmark things are hotting up (even though, baby, it’s cold outside…) and the streets are crowded in the late afternoon with shoppers. It seems to be go, go, go! So how about we slow it right down with a bit of soothing Danish music? 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…”. But today we’re slowing it right down. Let’s take a long, deep breath in. And out. And relaaaaaax! 😉

First up is the Danish band “Hymns from Nineveh” who made an EP in 2011 called “Endurance in Christmas Time”. How apt! Their track “Anywhere with you” has become an alternative Christmas classic. Jonas Petersen describes it as a romantic winter song with religious elements but leaves it up to the listener to decide just how spiritual they want the song to be.

“I was covered in darkness when you came
when you came and said ”come see my world,
it is luminous! 

And then 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.

* * * * * *

Amen!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


15 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen.Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

15 December 2015

There may be only nine days to Christmas but let’s put everything on hold because – just when the Danes are in the middle of stuffing themselves with æbleskiver and quaffing great quantities of snaps, julebryg and gløgg, they 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 sat glued to the telly.  Why?  Um, because of the World Women’s Handball Championships.  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.

Will I be glued to the telly Wednesday night watching the Danish ladies in the quarter final? No, I’m not a handball fan (plus I will be watching the new Star Wars film!).  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 of me and one of my BFBBBs (Best Female Bathing Belle Buddies) from yesterday morning, about 8.30am, after our dip. See those smiles! Frozen on… 😉

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You don’t have to look at a thermometer to know that the water is going to be cold. You can tell from the white frost on the bathing steps! But in case you’re wondering…it was minus 5c (24f) yesterday morning. What a way to kickstart your day!

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Here’s one of my favourite photos from last year of the Christmas tree down at the bathing club. This year’s tree is also well pegged down with four tow ropes and has already survived the first of this winter’s storms!

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The water has been really quite ‘warm’ so far this year – yet. But to give you an idea of how extreme it can get, here’s a picture from one of our swims in January (December, January and February are the coldest months of the year). Note all the white stuff. That would be snow and icicles on the steps… Yep, you don’t have to be mad to be a winterbather but it helps! ;-)

Handball, winterbathing or the new Star Wars film? Whatever you choose, may the force be with you!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


14 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen.Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

14 December 2015

Let’s talk about nisser!

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Admittedly not one of my personal favourite parts of a Danish Christmas – most of those elves give me the heebie geebies! :P  But nisser – elves – feature heavily in Danish Christmas songs, stories and, of course, decorations – you’ll often see cardboard kravlenisser (“crawling elves”) hanging on bookshelves and windowsills.

You’ll also find nisser in Danish schools.  Both my kids (DearSon,15 and DearDaughter,13) are playing nissevenner (“elf friends”, the equivalent of ‘Secret Santa’) where they hide several small gifts for a classmate.  The names are drawn at random, and the general rule is around 3 or 4 gifts costing a maximum total of DKR 75 (USD12 or UK£8).

But not all nisser are nice!  There are also drillenisser (“teasing elves”, naughty elves) about!  Often it’s Mum and Dad to pre-school kids who pretend to be Drillenissen.   And just what do those drillenisser get up to?  Well, you might wake up in the morning and find that they’ve put grød (porridge), nuts or newspaper in your shoes.  Or turned your coat, hat and gloves inside out.  Or put Nutella on top of your toothbrush.  Wrapped the door handles in toilet paper.  Can’t find your socks?  Hmm, take a look in the fridge!  Phew…it’s hard work playing a new trick every single day in December! :)

Anyway, love them or hate them, you just can’t get away from them.  They’re everywhere – even hanging around at the school dentist (along with their giant toothbrushes).

I’m not quite sure whether the dental assistants love or hate nisser.  They had a jar full ofsyltede nisserumper (“pickled elf bottoms”!) on the reception desk… ;)

Anyway, would you like to make your own big, nosy nisse, that’s easy peasy to do and won’t take more than 10 minutes? This is one we made…

Similar versions can be bought – at a price – in the shops…

For our cheapo homemade version you’ll need:

  • thin felt or stiff material
  • sewing machine or needle, thread
  • large wooden bead or ball
  • a bit of stuffing or the wool that you use for making felt (name escapes me)
  • glue (I love my hot glue gun!)

Cut out a ‘hat’ for your elf from the felt. Don’t worry too much, a rough triangle will do. Fold it over and sew it down one edge. Then turn it inside out, so the stitches don’t show, using a pencil to help you get right into the little pointy top.

Put a bit of the stuffing inside the hat (this will also help it to stand upright).  Stick on a large wooden bead for his ‘nose’, just under the brim of the hat.  The hot glue gun is great for this, no hanging around.

Then take more of the stuffing and pull it to bits, so you end up with a pile of smaller pieces.  Use this to make his beard and stick that on underneath the hat/nose.

And while you get on with making your very own nisse, have a listen to a famous song about them.  Yep, you can’t beat a bit of John Mogensen – he’s a cult classic!

PÅ LOFTET SIDDER NISSEN…

What’s going on with all those rats?  Well, they were hoping to eat the porridge but the elf threatens to set the cat on them…

Here are the lyrics in Danish:

På loftet sidder nissen med sin julegrød,
sin julegrød, så god og sød,
han nikker, og han spiser, og han er så glad
for julegrød er hans bedste mad.
Men rundt omkring står alle de små rotter,
og de skotter, og de skotter:
“Vi vil så gerne ha’ lidt julegodter,”
og de danser, danser rundt i ring.

Men nissefar han truer med sin store ske:
“Vil I nu se at kom’ af sted,
for jeg vil ha’ min julegrød i ro og fred,
og ingen, ingen vil jeg dele med.”
Men rotterne de hopper, og de danser,
og de svinser, og de svanser,
de kikker efter grøden, og de standser,
og de står om nissen tæt i ring.

Men nissefar han er en lille hidsigprop,
og med sin krop han gør et hop:
“Jeg henter katten, hvis I ikke holder op,
når katten kommer, skal det nok bli’ stop.”
Så bliver alle rotterne så bange,
åh, så bange, åh, så bange,
de vender sig og danser et par gange,
og en, to, tre, så er de væk!

…and a very rough English translation:

In the loft sits the elf with his Christmas porridge, his Christmas porridge, so good and sweet,
he nods, and he eats and he is so happy,
because Christmas porridge is his favorite food.
But around him are all the little rats,
and they look out of the corner of their eyes,
and they look out of the corner of their eyes.
“We really want some Christmas sweets”,
and they dance, dance around in a ring.

But elf-daddy he threatens with his big spoon,
“Won’t you just run away now,
because I want my Christmas porridge in peace and quietsy,
and no one, no one will I share it with.”
But the rats they hop, and they dance,
and they swing their hips,
they look at the porridge, and they stop,
and they stand around the elf, closely packed in a ring.

But elf-daddy he is a little angry cork,
and with his body he makes a jump:
“I will fetch the cat, if you don’t stop,
when the cat comes, it will be stopped.”
And then all of the rats get so scared,
oh so scared, oh so scared,
they turn around and dance a couple of times,
and one, two, three, then they are gone!

* * * * * *

Keep an eye on those crazy Danish nisser (and rats)!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


13 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

13 December 2015

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 DD15 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.

Time to light those candles… But, hey, be careful out there!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)


12 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

12 December 2015

Last week I showed you how to make some Danish Christmas hearts and today we’re getting our scissors and glue out for another quick craft – kræmmerhuse (cones).  Which – along with paper woven hearts – are a common decoration hanging on Danish Christmas trees. You can, of course, buy Danish designer ones in the shop. But, as you can no doubt guess, they come with a hefty price tag..

Kræmmerhus are very easy to make – just ask any Danish nursery kid… Giant ones, tiny ones: you can use them in lots of ways.  Make a large version, fill it with a gift to give to a friend. Hang them in your hallway or in windows. Or, as we usually do, on the Christmas tree – filled with nuts,pebernødder, a clementine or some konfekt (homemade sweets). Buy you may have to refill them…’cos pesky little nisser (elves) have a habit of empyting them when you aren’t looking! ;)

But as usual, I digress!  To make kræmmerhuse you’ll need a piece of paper or carton.  Wallpaper works really well for this so, if you have any offcuts lying around, now is the time to declutter them. ;)  Draw a circle (using a small or large plate as a guide) and cut out.

Fold the sides of the circle in, so you have a pointy bit at the bottom and a large, open end at the top.  It’s entirely up to you if you want a very open cone…  (I stuck a paper doily on the back of this red circle, to give my cone a bit of ‘oomph’.)

Or perhaps you prefer a more streamlined, longer, slightly more closed cone. (Please note the very Chrismassy fingernails of my bestie H!)

Use a big dab of glue or a piece of tape to hold it together.  If you just want to fill it with sweets to give to a friend or neighbour, then you can stop here.

Otherwise you’ll want to add a handle for hanging on a tree, door handle or from the ceiling.  Cut out a long thin strip of paper (always cut longer than you think you’ll need, don’t ask me how I know this!) and glue/tape the handle to the inside of the cone. Ta da, done!  You can now start adding glitter, lace, sequins, glansbilleder (scraps), ribbon, buttons or whatever takes your fancy in order to jazz it up a little.  Here are a selection of the cones my besties and I made last year.

So, now that you have some kræmmerhuse, all you need is et juletræ (a Christmas tree) on which to hang them.  But – as we’re in Denmark – it will be a real fir tree (no plastic please!). So that won’t be coming into the house until the week before Christmas.

See you tomorrow!

Diane :)

 


11 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

11 December 2015

“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise!” So goes the old nursery song. But if you down to the centre of Copenhagen – more specifically to see the windows of Illum department store – then you’re sure of a big disappointment. You can usually count on them to provide you with a few minutes of “oooh” and “aaah” when looking at their Christmas window displays. Though last year their windows were – how can I say it – um, just weird. Like the window dresser had been watching too many episodes of Broen and had gone overboard on huge, creepy animal masks! 😉

But, as usual, I digress! So what does Illum have in store (in store? boom, boom!) for us this year?

Here is one of the Christmas windows. Let’s call it Exhibit a). Several empty windows, with white pieces of plastic stuck on the backdrop.

According to the sign on the window, the “magic” begins at 4pm when it’s dark outside. So I went to look when it got dark. Exhibit b). The difference? A film/light show that I didn’t understand or didn’t ‘get’. Was it a package opening? Don’t know, don’t care! Where are the baubles, trees?

A few steps further along Strøget, at Illums Bolighus (their sister store, with emphasis on home design) and – hooray – finally some baubles. And this year they have thrown caution to the wind and were a traditional red colour. Not turquoise. Not purple. Not brown. Woo hoo!

bolighus

Even though some of their trees were looking decidedly…twiggy.

The other lights that people head to see are those at Hotel d’Angleterre.

This year I also walked past the ferriswheel at Nytorv. The Danes have a wonderful word which I have heard but never actually used myself. When I saw this ferriswheel, I said it out loud for the first time. Øjebæ! ‘Eye poop’! 😉 The garish coloured lights looked awful during the day, I can only imagine how horrible it looks in the dark. Flashing, coloured lights are just so ‘un-Danish’…

 

Ha! Seems I’ve been living in Denmark so long that I thrive on the pure, white lights… Give me the simple but beautiful lighting on Kronprinsessegade any day!

See you tomorrow!

Diane 🙂

 


10 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

10 December 2015

Yesterday I gave you a recipe for making pebernødder (“pepper nuts”).

10

I also told you that there’s a game you can play with these small rounds of yummy goodness. Mus! “Mouse!” Shop bought or homemade? Doesn’t matter, they are all good!

Arm yourself with a (large – it’s Christmas after all!) supply of pebernødder and line some up in a row.  Five, six or seven is a good number to start with…

The first player decides which pebernød is going to be the mus or “mouse”.  Keep it a secret from your opponent!  (I’m just pointing it out here so you get the gist of the game.)

Player 2 starts eating pebernødder.  One at a time.  Slowly.

But if they pick up the one you earmarked, you shout out ”Mus!”  and they have to stop eating.   And that’s the end of their turn – ha! :P

mus

Then you replace the pebernødder which have been munched – so you have a total of five, six or seven again – on the table.  It’s now Player 2’s turn to decide which one is “Mus” and Player 1′s turn to start eating.  And you keep taking turns until a) you run out of pebernødder or b) you get sick of eating pebernødder…  If you don’t feel you can trust each other (hmmm, siblings, anyone?), then you can cross off your ‘Mus‘ on a piece of paper before your start, so you have proof!

Held og lykke and velbekomme!

See you tomorrow and watch out for those pesky mice!

Diane :)