Yesterday I went for a walk in the forest with grandmother, like every year, it is a tradition for us. The two of us spend a moment talking about anything and everything, taking pictures of the animals we may meet and picking up spruce branches to make our Christmas wreath that night.
While pricking my fingers with the iron girls, I thought to myself:
“Why not share with Danish traditions but lived within my small family?”
So let’s go !
The Christmas wreath in most countries that I have seen in the movies is mostly made for decorating doors but not in Denmark.
Here we braid our wreaths decorating it with red berries and traditionally 4 white candles. Once done it is tied with red ribbon above the table where we take our meals. Normally we make it one month in advance and we light a candle every Sunday before Christmas.
At home we do it at the last minute just for decoration.
This morning I was mailed my little Christmas cards that I make myself for all the people I love. This is another of our traditions. We write handwritten cards to wish a Merry Christmas to our loved ones. They are usually decorated with a specially printed Christmas stamp for the occasion.
Little with Mira (my big sister) and my big brother we accompany grandfather to go buy them. We took the opportunity to lick the pastry windows and we were entitled to a small cake that we tasted sitting on a bench, usually cinnamon rolls.
Earlier in the month, on the night of December 12 to 13, in schools we celebrate Saint Lucia. We elect a “Saint Lucia” who wears a crown with candles who leads a procession where we sing Christmas carols. I was never entitled to it, but my sister was once elected “Saint Lucia”. She was so beautiful and I was so proud!
The weekend before Christmas Grand-Pa and Papa turns into a lumberjack to bring us a pretty Christmas tree. Finally, this is the official version! Personally, knowing them and considering the cleanliness of their shoes and the pick-up, I suspect them to go buy it and then spend the rest of the day in a brewery.
Today and tomorrow is going to be time for Christmas Eve shopping, and I will start cooking with my assistant sister in front of our traditional Christmas series and overdosing on eggnog.
In Denmark there are 2 big national channels which every year make a Christmas series on TV serving as a forward calendar for the children but my sister and I are crazy about it.
The Christmas market
On the evening of the 23rd we meet with my friends to admire the Christmas decorations in the city, we vote for the most beautiful shop windows and we eat chestnuts on the Christmas market.
The night the animals start talking
On the morning of the 24th, after a short visit to mom’s grave, we go to the park with a basket full of treats to give to the animals. It’s a superstition that on Christmas Eve animals can start talking so we bribe them to not speak badly about us. I’m deaf so I’ve never heard Nyx (my deaf guide dog and the love of my life) speak but I don’t know, it makes me feel a little bit like she can. Yes it’s silly but I want to believe it!
Don’t forget to feed the Nisse!
Around 4 a.m., as we eat late in the evening, I usually prepare a little rice pudding to last until then. Then with Dora (Isadora, 7 years old) my little cousin and Søren, my little brother, we put a small cup in the attic to feed the Nisse in the house. The Nisse is a kind of little Leprechaun who brings happiness to the house all year round, but who can be a bit of a joker on Christmas Eve because of all the commotion. This small offering is made so that everything goes well during New Years Eve. The next day, believe it or not, but when the cup isn’t just empty it is at least always missing a few bites. (We have cats but I love to see them all amazed the next day coming down from the attic with the empty cup!)
In the evening, after the guests had arrived when I was still hearing, we would go to mass. Not out of religion but more to have a reason to come together to sing Christmas fields.
I never complained but after my accident everyone understood that it had become a very boring time for me so since then we’ve been playing board games making sure dad doesn’t cheat too much!
At 10 p.m. we start to eat.
At the end of the meal we all sit down by the fireplace. Papa plays the violin and Grand-Pa tells us tales. Usually I rest my head on Mira’s shoulder and I’m mesmerized by the hand dancing on Daddy’s violin until I fall asleep.
The Christmas morning
The next day we usually both wake up, my sister and I hugging each other, covered in a plea that wasn’t there the day before. Lots of gift packages appeared under the tree.
At this point I pull out some little buns I made ahead of time and cook breakfast, impatiently waiting for Søren and Dora to come downstairs. Best time of year for me.
I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into our little Christmas habits. If you have any little traditions from your country or just things you do in your family I would love to hear about them if you want to share them in the comments.