Sunday, 25 December 2011

God Jul fra København (Merry Christmas from Copenhagen)

danish christmas ornament

I survived my first Danish Christmas! Not to sound dramatic but multi-culti relationships leave a lot of room for error especially when it comes to traditions. I am lucky I actually showed up on the right day. In Denmark, Christmas is the 24th and the 25th is known as the day after Christmas. The Christmas festivities take place on the day recognised as Christmas Eve in North America. As you can imagine, this made planning........ interesting.

To ensure we celebrated Christmas with everyone we had a Pre-Christmas Lunch and a Christmas-Christmas Dinner. On Friday afternoon we all gathered at the Panda's ex wife's house and had some traditional Danish fare. 

danish christmas lunch
Beer, eggs, fish fritters, pate with bacon, curry herring on rye bread, roast beef and mushrooms, schnapps
I was pretty sure I wouldn't try any herring but after seeing the enthusiasm in which the Danes ate the curry herring I had to try it. It was okay. Not as horrible as I thought it would be. I tried a whole piece and finished it but I am pretty sure I won't ever do it again. LOL

The sweets were my favorite part of the meal, there were so many delicious homemade cookies and chocolates. There was also a refreshing homemade lemonade drink made with elderflower. I can't wait to try and make it on my own if I ever get my hands on elderflower.

elderflower drink with strainer
Elderflower, sugar, lemon and water are soaked for 5 days to create this concentrated syrup

A Berlusconi Tea Bag that I gave as a gag gift.

woman and christmas tree in denmark
Me messing around with the tree :)
The 24th brought the real Christmas celebration. We met around 4:30 in the afternoon and had tea and cookies and played some board games. Dinner was served around 7:00pm. The Danish Christmas dinner was made up of duck, caramelised potatoes, white potatoes, red cabbage and gravy. There was plenty of wine and champagne to go around. I really enjoyed the dinner conversation, the guest were from different generations and different cultures, it was beautiful. The ages ranged from 12 to close to 80 years old, English, German, and, of course, Danish were spoken throughout the evening.

 risalamande in denmark
Whoever finds the whole almond in the Risalamande gets a prize.

After dinner we had a traditional dessert called Risalamande. Risalamande (rice with almonds) is almost like a rice pudding mixed with vanilla, whipped cream, chopped almonds and topped with a warm fruit sauce. A whole almond is hidden somewhere in the big bowl of pudding and someone has to find it. The longer you can conceal that you have the almond, the better, because it will force the rest of guest to stuff themselves searching for that damned almond. Some people take it super serious developing strategies and even resorting to cheating in order to win the prize. It was my first time having Risalamande and I found the almond, much to the dismay of the other dinner guest. 

My prize, a three person chess board
After dessert we moved onto the tree and gift exchange part of the evening. The tree was lit with wax candles and we held hands and sang old Danish Christmas carols. When this tradition was described to me, they told me that we would "dance" around the Christmas tree. Only after I got excited about the dancing part of the evening, they later explained that "dancing" actually meant swaying and walking in circles. I was totally disappointed and told my boyfriend's sons "I'm gonna moonwalk around that bitch!"  This became the joke of the evening and when the time actually came, we seriously held hands and walked around the tree. On the third song we ALL moonwalked around the tree, including the grandparents. It was brilliant!!! 

happy danish children
Me and boyfriend's two sons. I love them so much!
After the dancing and singing it was finally time for the gifts! My favorite gifts of the evening were from my boyfriend's sons. The youngest gave me a pair of gorgeous earrings that he made himself! He is only twelve and he made the earrings in a workshop at school, they totally look like something I can buy in a highstreet shop. The eldest son also gave me something homemade and edible. He gave me a box FULL of chocolate covered marzipan with different nuts in them. OMG These two young men are so talented and bright, I absolutely adore them!

Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you may be and however you celebrate it. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I am truly blessed! God Jul!

What are you Christmas traditions where you are in the world? Do they even celebrate Christmas? Please share in the comments.


  1. Awww! Great to see that you had a good time! I really enjoyed learning about the Danish traditions- I must do a post of my own about German Xmas dinner! And how sweet are your boyfriend s sons!?! So cute of the youngest to make you earrings, awww!

  2. merry xmas u look so happy ... i LOVE Europe but the FOOD LOL!!! i guess i got to get used to it... thnk God Mcdonald's is universal...

  3. @oneika please share your berliner christmas. all my times there for the holidays i just go out partying. i can post a funny story about my first christmas in berlin, i went to a single's party

    @lexdiamonz yeah the food in some places leave a much to be desired but i cant mess with mcdonalds. LOL although it is interesting to see the different offerings in mcdonalds around the world and how they try to incorporate the local cuisine

  4. I've heard about the Danes affinity for herring. Guess you can buy it all around and they pop them in their mouths like french fries. Might have to try that one day.

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas. It is interesting to see how different parts of the world hold traditions during the holidays.

    I don't have much to tell about my Christmas. I was stuck working duty on the ship.

  5. It's really interesting how similar the Scandinavian cultures are! I recognized all the traditions you mentioned as its pretty much all the same here in Norway. There's even the herring too, and like you I tried it once and once was good enough for me.

    Unfortunately, I don't particularly care for the Christmas food in Norway. There are three main dishes: Ribbe(Pork), Pinnekjøtt(Lamb) and Lutefisk(Fish). I don't eat pork, but even if I did the Christmas pork that is served here does NOT look very appetizing to me at all. They use the most fatty part of the pig's rib cage (I think) so there's actually more fat than meat to eat, then it is roasted until the flabby surface is golden brown and crispy. Once it's done there's a rather piggy scent to it (one of the main reasons why I can't stomach pork) and barely two centimetres of meat. (Google "ribbe matprat" to see pics). It just doesn't look like something I'd want to eat even if I ate pork.

    Then there's the lamb. I love lamb, but this Christmas lamb is marinated in salt water for days before cooking, and if it isn't cooked right it can end up being waaay too salty! Ugh.

    The fish ... I also love fish, but man not this kind fish. It's a stinky, flaky kind of fish that I've never been able to swallow again after the first time I tried it.

    This is sad because a big part of Christmas is the food. It's basically the one time of year we can stuff our faces and not feel too guilty about it the next day (the guilt comes in the New Year with all those silly new year resolutions).

    Anyway, all was not lost. Since I was unable to go Stateside and spend Christmas with my family, I stayed in Norway alone. I could have spent it with friends if I wanted to, but the food kept me away. I've lived here too long to put up with stuff I don't like just to be polite. I stayed home and made myself some Jamaican stewed peas and rice. It was good! Far better than anything I would've been served had I spent the Christmas with friends! :)

  6. @shells mmm jamaican stewed peas and rice YUM. i am laughing at your description of the food. luckily in denmark i can avoid the things i dislike. like raw rish and licorice. OMG my body rejects licorice. YUCK.

    salt water? umm. the human palatte is simply amazing. glad they kept that in norway :) my bf is an amazing cook and really introduces different cuisines to his kids and isnt afraid to experiment. for NYE we will be having raclette, something i insisted on bringing to denmark and krasekage, their tradition new years cake that we made ourselves!!

  7. Nicole, OMG! The licorice ... oh the horror! I remember the first time I tried that thing upon arriving in Norway. Never again.

    I can't even begin to wrap my mind around mixing it with raw fish. ::shudder::

    Kranse kake, as we call it over here, is the traditional NYE cake in Norway as well. I like it, but I've been here so long that I don't care to observe any of the local traditions anymore. I want me some Jamaican RUM cake! LOL

    By the way, have you visited the area of Copenhagen where its legal to buy and sell marijuana? I can't remember the name of the place, but I remember it being an interesting place to visit (even though I don't smoke).