Christmas in my family
Christmas in Denmark is a tradition for each family, but the “ground rules” are the same.
On December 1st, it all starts in my family. The big box with all the Christmas stuff that has been collected through the years, is brought down from the attic. The whole house has to be cleaned first. Usually my mom does it, but we (my dad, my sister, my brother and I) do pitch in sometimes. And then comes the fun part – decorating the house. It looks so beautiful when we are done, and “hyggeligt”, which is a Danish term that has to be experienced, because it is hard to translate. But “safe and sound in surroundings you feel comfortable in” covers it in a way.
Then we pick our Christmas tree. And each year, we (still) try to convince my dad to get a bigger tree, although it cannot be any taller. We leave the tree outside and decorate it with electrical lights. We switch it on every day when it turns dark outside. It will be out there until December 24th when we will bring it in the house and decorate it.
Then my mom starts the baking… and it is SO good. She makes “brunkager”, “pebernødder” and “vaniliekranse” which are traditional Christmas cookies in my family – and more or less the rest of Denmark. The whole house smell of these wonderful cookies. And then it is really Christmas – when the house has the scent too, I mean.
On the 23rd we are together for dinner, and then we (the “kids”) go out to meet old friends who we haven’t talked to for a long time… you know, a year passes by so fast in a way. This is a night filled with joy and hugs and stories. On the 24th in the morning, my parents will wake us up, and we have to decorate the tree. In some families, the grown ups decorate the tree behind closed doors, and the kids do not see it until Christmas Eve after dinner. But in my family it is tradition that the kids gets to do it. Then we watch TV, help my parents, wrap the last presants, etc. Basically just trying to make time fly.
My dad cooks the most delicious Christmas dinner – turkey, duck or pork – it varies each year. We sit down and eat and talk – having a good time. After dinner, we get dessert. It is called “ris a’la mande” and it is a kind of pudding. We have a whole almond in it, and the person who gets the almond, gets a presant.
Then we (the “kids” again) go and get all the presants, and put them under the tree. Then we dance around the tree while we sing Christmas songs – and my sister and brother always start laughing, ruining the songs. But it is okay – they have been doing it for about 20 years now, why shouldn’t that be a tradition.
After dancing around the tree, we open our presants, one at a time, so everybody can see what the other gets. It’s a nice way of doing it – and you appreciate your gifts much, much more.
When the gifts are all unwrapped, we talk, maybe play a game or watch a Christmas movie… and then around midnight, my parents cannot keep their eyes open anymore, and Christmas Eve is over….
A merry Christmas and a happy new year to you, where ever you are in the world