Christmas in Denmark

More stories from Sammy May

Summer Plans
May 4, 2015

In Danish, happy/merry Christmas is ‘Glædelig Jul’. In Denmark, children believe that their presents are brought by the “Julemanden” (Christmas Man). He looks very similar to Santa Claus ( and also travels with a sleigh and reindeer. He lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding, and is helped by ‘nisser’ which are like elves. Advent means “’coming” in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. It is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas. In Denmark, there are different types Advent candles that are very popular.  Kalenderlys (calendar-candle) is one type of Advent candle and it is also one of the most popular.  A Pakkekalender (a gift calendar) are also a fun way to countdown to Christmas Eve. There are 24 small gifts for the children in the calendar which is there for one each day until Christmas Eve. Julekalender is a TV series that only has 24 episodes– one for every day of the month. Julekalender was first aired in denmark in 1962 and since then it has been one of the more favorite traditions.  Christmas Parties are held from 1st November to 24th December. Most people go to a Church Service on Christmas Eve about 4.00pm to hear the Christmas Story. It’s also a tradition to give animals a treat on Christmas Eve, so some people go for a walk in the park or woods and take some food to give to the animals. After they return home the main meal is eaten. It’s served on beautifully decorated tables. Some popular Christmas foods that are served  include roasted duck, goose or pork. They are served with sweet potatoes, red cabbage, beetroot and cranberry jam/sauce. After the meal most families have a ‘ris á la mande’ (a special kind of rice pudding,with almonds) for dessert. All but one of the almonds are chopped into tiny pieces, the person who finds the whole almond gets a present called a Mandelgave (almond present) and it’s often a marzipan pig. After dessert the Christmas tree lights are often lit and presents are opened. On Christmas day people just visit family and have a big lunch.