Friday, December 9, 2016


   In the cobwebs and dust of old farmhouse loft in Denmark, it is reported that there lives a mischievous elf named Julenisse, or Nisse.  He is said to wear gray wool clothing, a red bonnet, red stockings, and white clogs upon his feet.  Though he is usually kind and helpful around the farm towards good children, he does love to play jokes.
   During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Danish celebrate Advent.  Each Sunday in Advent, family and friends gather to light candles in the Advent crown.  Refreshments of sweet fruit juices are served to the children, while adults drink a cocktail of red wine, raisins, and spices.  Little fire-baked cakes sprinkled with sugar provide a tasty snack.


  On December 13th, Lucia processions are held at many hospitals, schools, and rest homes.  Children's choirs perform a parade in honor of Lucia, "the saint of lights".  The children dress in white, carry candles, and follow one child who is portrayed as the Lucia bride.  She wears a wreath of fir and lit candles upon her head.  The lights are dimmed as the procession winds its way down the aisles, singing the Lucia song.
   Danish families keep Nissse in mind when they are preparing to celebrate Christmas. It is a proud and joyful time as families share in the duties of making their own baubles and decorations from bright paper, straw, and scraps of wood.  Writing Christmas cards to friends and relatives is popular in Denmark.  It is a cherished tradition for most to send and receive wishes for a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"!  After the decorations are made, the parents secretly decorate the Christmas tree.  The children are not allowed to see the tree until Christmas Eve dinner, which consists of rice pudding (that holds a magic almond worth a prize for its finder), goose, red cabbage, and browned potatoes.  At this time, the tree is lit, and the families gather near it to sing Christmas hymns and carols.



   After Christmas Eve dinner, the Christmas Eve, or Juelaften celebration,  is the most popular and biggest event of the year.  Friends gather for parties that last through the night, and continue to feast on goose, red cabbage, fried pastries, and rice pudding (also called grod).  Grod plays an important role in Christmas celebrations in Denmark.  The Christmas elves (Julenisse) are left an offering of rice pudding, in order to appease them and keep their pranks mild.
   For those looking for a Christmas experience a bit more quaint and old-fashioned, the Danish may have what you are looking for.

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