Without a doubt, Christmas is one of the biggest holiday events in most parts of the world, and each culture has its own way of celebrating this joyous season. In Denmark, Christmas, or “Jul” (an old Nordic word which means feast) is a main event anticipated by everyone which is marked with traditions that are centuries-old. Indeed there is more to Christmas in Denmark than the festive markets that can be seen in virtually every city and town.
The holiday festivities start on the 1st day of December and carry on until the eve of the following year. There are of course the usual sprucing of trees, putting up Christmas lights and making cookies and candies. But the most important days during the holidays are from the 24th to the 26th of December and the Danish home is the center stage for all the activities. On Christmas Eve (or the “Juleaften”), families gather around for a Christmas dinner of prune-stuffed roast duck or goose, red cabbage, baked potatoes and a dessert of cinnamon-laced rice pudding called Grod.
The same pudding is also laid out on the tree for the “Nisse,” a helpful but mischievous elf who plays pranks during the holiday season. The pudding is meant to appease the Nisse. Another dessert pudding eaten during Christmas Eve is made with whipped creams and almonds, with a whole one hidden inside. Whoever finds the almond wins a prize of a chocolate or marzipan treat. After dinner, the family gathers around the tree to sing Christmas carols and open gifts.
On Christmas day, more eating begins with breakfast where families partake of cupcakes called Ableskiver. Then it’s off to lunch and dinner with relatives with tables laden with fixings for smorrebrod and lots of beer and schnapps.