Last weekend marked the beginning of the Christmas season here in Denmark. There’s a lot that happens here with various social gatherings, events, and celebrations rolling through to December 24.

We started our festivities by attending a Christmas market presented by the Spejder (pronounced “spider”) scouts. They sell Christmas trees, decorations, and all kinds of various items to raise money for their projects throughout the year. (The Danes merged their boy and girl scout organizations back in 1973, so the market was full of families working hard and having fun.) We bought our Christmas tree here and we snacked on Gløgg (mulled wine) and æbleskiver (pancake balls that you dip in jam and powdered sugar). If you visit Solvang, California, you can buy æbleskiver year round and they are about the size of a baseball. In Denmark, they are smaller and served only during this time of year.

They also had a Santa Lucia presentation at the Julemarket. (Saint Lucy’s Day isn’t officially until December 13, but it’s all good.) In Denmark, the girls wear white dresses, a red sash to represent the blood of her martyrdom, and carry candles to light their way. They also sing some traditional holiday songs. I’ve seen this procession with pre-schoolers and I know that the elementary schools also have some kind of procession in their hallways as well. 

Our next stop was the annual family “Juleklip” event. Friends and family get together to eat more æbleskiver, drink gløgg, and make decorations that will go on the Christmas tree. They don’t make the papaer chains that I did as a kid. The Danes (yes, adults) make these serious stars (see below) made of folded strips of colored paper. It is amazing how much intricate these stars can be.

Hearts are also a big thing here. It reminds me of the heart baskets I made as a kid for Valentine’s Day, but waaaay more advanced. Again, the pattern on the bottom right is a sample of the hearts I made as a kid. On the left, is examples of how far you can take the art. 

I ate æbleskiver, drank gløgg, and checked everyone else’s progress. 

Julefrokost / Christmas Lunch

The month of December is also full of these lunches (aka dinner parties). Even though it is called a lunch, it can be scheduled for either lunch time or dinner, and they go for hours. Events include everything from office Christmas parties to dinners with special friends. Many restaurants also serve special menus during the month of December with holiday favorites like flæskesteg (pork roast), red cabbage, and risalamande (Danish almond rice pudding with cherry sauce).

Other Traditions

Back in Montana, my aunt Jane would help us make gingerbread houses. She taught kindergarten for years, and she knows how to organize groups of kids for these huge messy projects. She also makes some pretty amazing sugar cookies. While I don’t participate in the gingerbread-making event any more, I do look forward to eating some of her sugar cookies when I get back to Montana this year.

What traditions or festivities do you celebrate at home during the month of December? Let me know in the comment area below.

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