Better late than ever here is a new blog post, and this time about Christmas of course. And in particular the Danish way of celebrating Christmas.
Danish Christmas, or Jul, is all about family, traditions, drinks and food. Especially the two latter.
But what you should know is that the Danes, unlike the Belgians for instance, start Christmas preparations very early. The first Christmas advertisements arrive in October and by the end November we have already had quite a few julefrokoster (Christmas lunches/dinners) with friends and colleagues. The julefrokost with the family usually takes place on December 25th
Julefrokost is hygge at its finest: loads of food, drink (especially snaps!), a beautiful table and good company. If you’re invited to a julefrokost, don’t expect it to be an eat-and-run situation. These can last all day/night and seem to be an excuse to get seriously plastered.
What is also very important for us is how we do the Christmas decorations. Lots of candles, lots of pine-inspired decor. Colors tend to be white, red, gold, silver and green but as with Scandinavian interior design we tend to go subdued and minimalist. Not too much kitsch outdoor lights on personal homes or apartments, but the main streets of the city do get dressed up.
And there is also a long tradition of creating your own Christmas decorations, often together with the kids. The most typical ones are Julehjerter (Christmas Hearts) and Julestjerner (Christmas Stars) that are made from folded paper and can be hung up with string.
But let’s come back to food and drinks which are the real stars at Christmas.
Christmas Eve dinner taking place on the 24th is hyper-traditional. Duck and flæskesteg with crispy pork rinds, as well as boiled potatoes, caramelized potatoes, brown sauce (gravy) and pickled red cabbage.
Dinner is, naturally, followed by dessert and everybody has Ris a l’Amande, a cold, creamy rice pudding made with vanilla and almond slivers, on top of which you pour hot cherry sauce. And then eat FOREVER. Traditionally, it is made the day before or in the morning and set out during the day to prevent Nisser (elves) from playing pranks.
The game with Ris a l’Amande is that the host mixes in one (or more if there are kids at the table) whole blanched almond. If you find the almond, you get a prize (mandelgaven). And you have to keep eating the pudding until someone finds the almond.
In addition to the traditional Christmas eve feast we are also big on sweets things.
A personal favorite is æbleskiver, which have no apple in them (although they used to). They’re fried dough balls that you dip in jam and powdered sugar.
Marzipan is also very popular. In my family we have the tradition of making konfekt which is basically marzipan in all sorts of shapes dipped in melted chocolate with extras like nougat or nuts. It’s a fun tradition that I really enjoy doing with the kids.
On the drinks side, a special mention goes to Gløgg, a hot spiced wine with almonds and raisins, that actually originates from Sweden.
Skål, velbekommen og Glædelig Jul !