Find a chair - it's time to jump into the New Year!

Christmas has been and gone (I hope you enjoyed my 24-day-long Danish Christmas Advent Calendar?) and I'm getting as much sleep as I can right now.  Because celebrating Nytår (New Year) in Denmark is serious business.  While Christmas is spent with family, New Year's Eve is normally spent with friends - usually at someone's house.

Let's start with the basics.  The celebrations start at 6 o'clock.  Sharp.  So make absolutely sure you are at the party venue about 15 minutes before, so you have time to change out of your 'outside' shoes, take off your coat, scarf and gloves, and put down your (humungous) bag of fireworks (not forgetting the all-important safety glasses for every member of your party).  And what's so important about 6 o'clock?  Well, that's when the Danish Queen "Daisy"' makes her speech, live, on the telly.  And it's tradition to watch.  And listen.  Whilst standing up and enjoying a cocktail or glass of bubbly...

After that, the kids (and big kids = dads) are officially allowed to go outside and launch a few fireworks.  (But remember to keep the big guns for 12 o'clock!)

 

And it's also the cue for the others (read "women"!) to go into the kitchen, finish prepping the yummy food, and get the starter on the table.  Then the menfolk/kids come back in, everyone eats, the menfolk/kids go out and launch a few more fireworks, the women clear up and prepare the next course and repeat, repeat, REPEAT!!! 

 

 

Just make sure that - with all the crazy comings and goings, food and wine aplenty - that you don't lose track of time.  When it's getting near to 12 o'clock, you need to stop and find a seat.  Or a ladder.  Or a sofa.  Something that is fairly high up off the ground to stand on...


Switch on the telly or radio and turn it up LOUD.  Because the first chimes of the clock from Copenhagen's rådhus (townhall) are your cue to literally 'jump' into the New Year.  So we jump, hug, kiss and open (yet more) champagne.  Then you listen to the traditional songs... Vær Velkommen Herrens År, Det er et Yndigt Land and Kong Kristian stod ved højen Mast  Not a dry eye in the house, nor an empty glass! ;P
 



And then it's time for everyone to muffle up, pile outside (safety glasses on, champagne in hand) for the Grand Finale of fireworks.  Which round our parts usually lasts over 30 minutes.  But you will hear fireworks going off the whole night, into the wee small hours of the morning...  And again the next day! 

 

But back to our party...  After the fireworks, you can come back in and warm up with hot coffee and kransekage (yummy marcipan cake, baked in rings, layered up and decorated with sparklers, feathers and streamers) before finishing off the champers... 

 

And the day after?  Is spent watching German ski jump on the tv, eating lots of junk food and - sigh - clearing up all the fireworks from the road and garden...



All that's left for me to do is to say Godt Nytår!  Happy New Year!  Thanks for following the blog and look forward to seeing you all again in 2014!

Diane :)

 

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 24 December!

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!

24 DECEMBER

Woop, woop – it’s here!  24 December and we are ready to say “God Jul!”

I started off the day – as I do most mornings – with a skinny dip in the Danish North Sea.   The weather was been extremely mild this December, with an average air temperature of 6c (42f) and water temperature 3c (37f).  Here we are...fresh out of the refreshing, cold water!   :)


We'll probably have a fairly light lunch of various sild (pickled herrings) and tarteletter, followed by the æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) my husband made, and some gløgg (Danish mulled wine).

Christmas in Denmark officially starts around 6pm on the 24th of December with dinner...



Our dinner is always roast duck, warm red cabbage, a fresh red cabbage and carrot slaw, caramelised potatoes, boiled potatoes, warm potato crisps and lots of yummy sovs (gravy).


Dessert – as tradition dictates – is ris à l’amande (cold rice pudding with hot cherry sauce).  Who's going to find the almond and win the marcipan pig?  It's anyone's guess!


Anyway, on to the main event of the evening for the kids...the present opening!  Um - no - hold on!  We have to dance round the tree first! Yep, we all join hands and dance and sing around the Christmas tree.  Normally we sing “Nu er det jul igen!“, “Jingle Bells” and “Højt fra træets grønne top!”

And then the presents can be opened!  One at a time, slowly, at random.  So that everybody can see who got what from whom. Which makes for a loooooooong process. For us, it usually takes about two hours…


And after all that?  Then we collapse onto the sofa, dig into the konfekt (homemade sweets), finish off the wine and down a refreshing, cold Danish Christmas beer…  Skål!  Cheers!


And - hey - thank you for joining me for my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  I hope you've enjoyed reading about those crazy Danes and their fantastic month long Christmas...

God Jul!  Merry Christmas!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 23 December

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!  And - woop, woop - tomorrow is The Big Day!

23 DECEMBER

Today it’s Lille Juleaften!  Little Christmas Eve!  So tonight we'll be having our family's traditional Lille Juleaften dinner – a side of smoked salmon, warm homemade bread, fresh veggies and salad, a selection of cheese and crackers and lots of lots and lots of konfekt (homemade sweets), biscuits and fruit.  We’ll wash it down with julebryg (Danish Christmas beer) and white wine.  And hyldeblomst saft (elderflower juice) for the kids.


I’m also doing some last minute prep for The Big Day.  Which means making the rice pudding for tomorrow’s ris à l’amande.   According to my family, the risengrød (rice pudding) has to be made a day in advance and kept cool overnight (preferably in a cold cellar).  Tomorrow we’ll add whipped cream, vanilla, sugar and serve it cold with hot cherry sauce.  At this stage, it looks pretty bland, I admit! :P


The mandelgaver (almond presents) of marcipan pigs are wrapped and ready and I’m putting them in the dining room, so we’re not running around looking for them at the last minute…



I’ve also looked out the Christmas songbooks, so we’re ready for the traditional singalong after dinner.  And after we’ve sung some hymns and carols, we’ll sing and dance around our (real) Christmas tree - as is the tradition in Denmark.  And then – and onlythen – can we open the presents!



One sleep to go!  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow…when we open the final door!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 22 December

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

22 DECEMBER

Sunday morning and the sun is finally shining - hooray!  So it's time to open that Christmas snaps, get out the julebryg (Danish Christmas beer) and enjoy a great Danish Christmas lunch!

So what do we traditionally eat at a full-blown Danish Christmas lunch?  Ummm, lots of things!  We always start with sild (herring).  My favourite is the plain, pickled herring.  Topped with homemade æggesalat (egg mayo).

Then we would usually move on to prawns.  And then change the ‘fishy’ plates for new clean plates before serving up some hot, homemade leverpostej (liverpâté) with mushrooms and bacon.

Then it’s usually on to my homemade rullepølse (rolled, pressed pork).

And then another of my personal favourites…tarteletter.  Warm pastry tart cases filled with creamy chicken and asparagus.

How about some sylte?  Potted head cheese.  I like to eat mine with a bit of mustard and lots of mini gherkins…

You might also see flæskesteg (roast pork) on the table.  And some really old smelly danablu blue cheese (which you can douse with alcohol or honey).  We’ll also be having medister (a round sausage) and fiskefileter fried fish fillets.  After all that lovely grub, there isn’t dessert at the end of a Danish lunch.  Just cups of strong coffee and a plate of konfekt (homemade sweets) and other goodies…

Two sleeps to go!  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 21 December

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

21 DECEMBER

It's the shortest day of the year today...  And - to really remind us that we want to fast forward to spring - it's been dark and raining all day today in Copenhagen.  But, hey, the perfect weather for a spot of klippe klistre!  Every year my friends and I take it in turns to host a klippe klistre afternoon.   Klippe klistre means ‘cut and paste’.  Not in the ‘Control V/Control C computer’ sense.  I mean the old-fashioned way…with scissors and glue!  The Danes love to get together at Christmas time and make decorations.  If you have kids, you’ve no doubt already been at nursery or school one of the first mornings in December, eating breakfast together.  Coffee in one hand, glue in the other…



Though the problem for me is that I’m usually too busy chatting and enjoying the food to get any half-decent decorations finished :P




Even the local Danish libraries host free klippe klistre events…


But I usually stick to making simple stuff like guirlander – garlands.  You know the ones?   No?  Well, you can see one I started at the bottom of the next photo.  You take strips of shiny paper, glue the ends together to make a circle.  Add another strip of paper to the first circle, glue together.  And keep going until you loose the will to live… ;)


But, hey, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t end up with perfect decorations.  After all, the real reason to klippe klistre is to get together with friends or family in order to hygge.   Have a good, cosy time at a time of the year when it’s very dark and cold.



This year our kids baked brunkager (spicy, Christmas Danish biscuits)...



...while we grown ups started on some paper decorations.  Bring on the glitter! :)


Have you klippe klistret today?  Remember to put the lid back on the glue stick when you’re finished!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!


Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 20 December

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!

20 DECEMBER

Okay, so have you bought all your Christmas presents?  Are they wrapped and ready?  And the marcipan pig.  Did you remember that?!


If you’re hosting Danish Christmas dinner on the evening of 24 December and are serving the obligatory ris a l’amande for dessert, then you’re going to need the obligatory marcipan pig for the obligatory Mandelgave or ‘almond present’.

Ris a l’amande, despite the French name, is a very Danish dessert.  It’s a heavy, cold rice pudding, ‘lightened’ (ha!) with whipped cream and specked with chopped, blanched almonds.  And served with a jug of hot cherry sauce.  Yum!

According to tradition (which dates back a century or two) a whole blanched almond is ‘hidden’ in the dessert.  The dessert is served to the whole table and whoever finds the whole almond in their portion is ‘the Winner’.  The mandelgave (almond present) is usually a small, marcipan pig (marcipangris) but can also be a small bottle of snaps, a book, a game, you name it.  And if you have small kids, I’d suggest sneaking a whole almond into each and every little child’s bowl if you want to ensure ‘peace on earth’ this Christmas Eve… ;)

In my DDH’s (Dear Danish Husband’s) family, they go a step further and try to hide the fact that they have found the whole almond until the very end of the meal.  By hiding it in their mouth, in a pocket, under the tablecloth etc.  Just to keep everyone guessing.

Sometimes we make the pigs ourselves out of marcipan.  Just google “marcipangris” for images, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration.


Otherwise you can take the easy way out – and get your little piggies from a chocolate shop, baker...



...or supermarket.



Øf, øf!  Oink, oink!

Four sleeps and three shopping days to go!  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 19 December

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!   Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

19 DECEMBER

Today we're back on the Danish Christmas food wagon…rullepølse!   Rolled pork.  One of the things that features heavily in a Danish Christmas lunch…

You can find it ready sliced in little packets at the supermarket.  Or you can buy large chunks, for slicing at home, from your butcher.  But the one you see above isn't just any old rolled pork.  It’s my hjemmelavet rullepølse – the homemade kind!   A long flat piece of raw pork belly (best to order it in advance from the butcher), which you cover with spices and lots and lots and lots and lots of pepper, roll up, tie up, boil, then put in a press to cool.  And then slice and enjoy on a slice of rugbrød (ryebread).  Some people like to top it with italiensk salat (a mayo salad containing chunks of carrot of peas), others eat it with slices of raw onion and cubes of pork jelly.  But it’s always, always good with a nice cold Christmas beer :)

Okay, so if I’m honest, I didn’t make my rullepølse completely from scratch last year.  I half-cheated and bought the pork from a Swedish butcher, raw, all rolled and ready for the boiling pot…

Here’s our rullepølse press – made by my husband’s brother in school woodwork class when he was just a nipper! ;)   They're quite hard to find these days.  In fact, we lent our press out last year to a friend - after she had seen my rullepølse on facebook, and was determined to have a go!  (And can you guess what her family decided to buy her for Christmas?!)

After boiling, you squash the pork into the press and put the screws on it.  Then pop it into the fridge to cool and harden for a few days...


Am I making you hungry?   Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)

My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar - 18 December

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Just like last year, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes… So sit back, relax and enjoy!


18 DECEMBER

We're now less than a week away from The Big Day, which means - hooray, hooray - it's now 'legal' in Denmark to buy your Christmas tree and bring it into the house ;)



Now, personally, I'd be quite happy with the plastic tree I bought when I worked at the ECJ in Luxembourg many moons ago.  That tree has served me (and børnehave ‘creche’) well.  It’s green plastic – selvfølgelig.  And green in the eco-friendly way.  But DDH (Dear Danish Husband) insists on The Real Thing.  Despite the cost.  [Ouch! Said the Canny Scot.]  But, hey ho, it’s Christmas.  And the only Christmas tradition he gives a (fresh) fig about... :P  So we walked down the road to our local  pusher...



And checked out this year's models.  DH always buys the Nobilis trees - the very bushy, blue/green type.   Even though they're not completely straight, they hardly lose any needles (unlike the Nordmannsgran, which drops its needles if you give it a hard stare).


We bought it (complete with foot - learned a few years ago the hard way that big trees don't fit into the fancy teak wooden foot we have...), carried it home and unpacked it.


 And got ready to decorate it...


Almost done!  Will be making a few more decorations over the coming days...



So we are finally on the home straight!  Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)