Christmas is an incredibly special time in Denmark, there is truly nothing like it. The festivities start in November when we visit Christmas markets for food and decor inspiration. The cozy cities are draped with bright lights and eclectic decorations. The Danes gather with family and friends to share tasty dishes and enjoy timeless traditions. We play fun games like Roll the dice gift exchange and watch Christmas shows on TV every night. The joy in the air is electric. It is a time for togetherness and sharing special moments with loved ones.
Your Danish friends at Maileg came together to share their favorite things about a Danish Christmas. As you read along, travel to Denmark with us and stay awhile. You may pick up a new tradition or find that your holiday celebration is more similar to the Danes than you thought. Christmas in Denmark - the time for hygge.
"One of my favorite Christmas memories from my childhood in Denmark was the arrival of the Christmas elf and pixy (Danish Nisse) on December 1st. When my sister and I woke up that morning and went to the kitchen, there was an advent calendar hanging on the wall with a present for each day in December. The Nisse made one for each of us! We had to "behave" every day in December or the Nisse would pull pranks and make trouble for us. He lives in the attic. We could hear him roaming around at night and sometimes find cookie crumbles on the kitchen counter in the mornings. On Christmas Eve, we would leave a bowl of rice pudding or porridge in the attic to thank him. We made sure to check the bowl the next morning to see if it was empty.
At my grandparent's farmhouse, the Nisse lived outside in the stables with the animals. It was always a bit scary to go into the stables, but my grandparents told us he was a kind and loving Nisse. He was best friends with all the horses, pigs, cows, and Lady, the farm dog.
The Danish Nisse is small, about the same size of a mouse or squirrel. He wears red or gray wool clothing, a pointy red bonnet (nisse hue), wool socks, and clogs. He can do magic tricks and can be more than 400 years old. When I had my daughter 20 years ago, a Nisse magically moved into our house and the Christmas traditions continued. "
-Bettina, MailegUSA Fulfillment Team
"My favorite tradition is all the activities around the Christmas tree. In Denmark, the Christmas tree is traditionally not decorated or revealed until Christmas eve. We decorate with real candles, Danish flags (as we do for every celebration), handmade ornaments each filled with delicious candy (like quilted paper hearts, paper cones, and baskets), traditional glass ornaments, drums, angels, and ALWAYS a star on the tippy top.
On Christmas eve, after the flaeskesteg (pork roast) dinner, the family gathers to watch as the candles on the tree are lit. We'll hold hands and dance around the tree singing traditional Christmas songs. Next, it's time to open all the presents underneath the tree! The candy in the quilted and paper hearts are shared, which is called "eating the tree". "
-Sysser, MailegUSA Wholesale Account Manager
"The Christmas Eve feast is one of the things I look forward to most. The traditional dinner usually involves flæskesteg (Danish roast pork) or roasted duck with brown potatoes and red cabbage. It never fails to leave me extremely full. However, the best part of the entire meal is dessert and somehow I always find a way to revitalize my appetite.
Risalamande (rice pudding with almonds and cherry sauce) is not only the most delicious thing your taste buds will ever experience, but it is also a large part of the entertainment for the evening. The tradition that accompanies this dessert is unlike any other. The preparer of the risalamande hides one almond in the rice pudding and whoever finds it in their serving wins a present! The catch is that everyone must keep eating until the almond is found, no matter how full everyone is. This game becomes especially dangerous when the person who finds the almond decides to hide it in their mouth to ensure that all the rice the pudding has been eaten!"
-Max, MailegUSA Intern, Waremouse's dad