Here comes 2016 - jump!

We’re now recovered from the 24 Days of Danish Christmas (if you missed that, you can start here with 1 December) and yesterday afternoon I looked out my DDH’s (Dear Danish Husband’s) black tie outfit.  And safety glasses.  And he came home from shopping with several bags of explosives…  Is my DDH the Danish equivalent of James Bond? 8-)  Nope, it’s because tonight we will be celebrating Nytår (New Year).  Which, in Denmark, is serious business.  While Christmas is spent with family, New Year’s Eve is normally spent with friends. Though there are organised parties in bars and clubs, most Danes celebrate 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. Two minutes to six – eeeeeek – everyone stand to atten-SHUN! :D



It’s tradition to watch and listen. Whilst standing up (only the elderly and small tots are exempt) and enjoying a cocktail or glass of bubbly. Now, when you get tired of standing up in your party heels, and start to wonder “when will this ever end?”, just listen out for a mention of those at sea.  Or the Danish armed forces. Or Greenland. You are in the final straight! ;-)



The Queen always finishes with “Gud bevare Danmark!” God Bless Denmark! At which point, the kids and big kids (= dads) are officially allowed to go outside and launch a few fireworks. (But remember to keep those big guns for 12 o’clock!)

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And it’s also the cue for the others (um, that would be the 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 grab your glass...

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... 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…

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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. As you will probably take off your shoes, make sure that tonight you aren’t wearing your holy socks or your stockings! :)



So we jump down, hug and kiss everyone in the room and open (yet more) champagne. And sing along with the choir on the telly...

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...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!



And then it’s time for everyone to muffle up, pile outside (safety glasses on, champagne in hand) for the Grand Finale of fireworks. Even if you do end up looking like Bono!



Remember, safety first! In one of my favourite satire shows Tjek på traditionerne, they have a fun saying of "after lighting fireworks, take one step back for every bottle of wine you have ingested"! Ha! ;-)



Where we live, the fireworks usually last for over 30 minutes. But you’ll hear fireworks going off the whole night, into the wee small hours of the morning… And again the next day!


Here's a snippet from just 'one' of our fireworks! You can imagine what it's like with them going off left, right and centre for an hour or two...



But back to our party!  After the fireworks, you can come back in and warm up with hot coffee and kransekagetop (yummy marcipan cake, baked in rings, layered up and decorated with sparklers, feathers and streamers) before finishing off the champers. Last year, I’ve attempted to bake and build my own kransekagetop…



And – while I’m not quite ready for the Great British Bakeoff or its Danish equivalent Den store Bagedyst – and it was all pretty hairy sticking the dang thing together…



…I was pretty pleased with the end result! (There were Italian visitors present last year, hence the extra flags…)

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But what about the Day After – when we all wake up late on the first of January? Well, that means a day of watching German ski jump on the tv, eating lots of junk food and [sigh] clearing up the aftermath of fireworks from the road and garden… Yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full!



All that’s left for me to do, dear readers, is thank you for bearing with me. Godt Nytår!  Happy New Year!

See you on the other side. Here's to 2016! Jump!

Diane :-)

24 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ve been giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

And guess what...the Big Day is finally here! :-)

24 December 2015

So what do the Danes typically do today? Like every other day in December, it will be a day of eating and drinking and generally being merry. Many Danes will attend a church service - there are services in the morning or afternoon (no services in the evening because that would clash with dinner) and again on the morning of 25 December. Last year we attempted to go to church but, alas, got there too late. The car park and side streets were full (a sure giveaway) and (if you forgive the Christmas pun) there was literally no room left at the inn! ;-)  Every year the church brings in extra seats for services on 24 December but, alas, it was standing room only…  Which wasn’t really an option for my DSM80 (Dear Scottish Mum, aged 80).  Yep, that old chestnut about those crazy Danes never going to church except for the 24 December is truly alive and well! :)  So instead we came home and watched a church service on the telly. Which was just as hyggelig!



There is no set time for Danish Christmas dinner. Light falls at around 3.30/4pm and the streets are very quiet until around 5.30/6pm when they are suddenly busy with people walking and driving to visit their families. And what's for dinner? Goose, duck and/or roast pork. Our family always eats duck. Along with prunes and apple, warm pickled red cabbage, caramelised potatoes (cooked in a hot syrup of butter and sugar) and boiled potatoes, gravy and hot salted crisps.



You already know what dessert is...ris à l'amande (my post from 22 December)!

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But who will find the whole almond and win this year’s mandelgave (marcipan pig)?



After dinner everyone dances round the Christmas tree. Very carefully - watch where you put your feet! Lots of pressies under there, you see!



Then you start picking out gifts to open, one by one…



Which generally takes us – with short breaks for drinks and konfekt (homemade sweets) – about 2 hours! Last year we woke up to a beautiful white blanket of snow on the morning of 25 December! No sign of snow this year. The temperature has been incredibly mild. Climate change, anyone?



I do hope you've enjoyed reading along. Merry Christmas! See you on the other side. Or on the bathing jetty!

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Diane :)

 

23 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen.Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

23 December 2015

One sleep to go, woop woop! Today is Lille Juleaften - 23 December - which is "Little Christmas Eve” here in Denmark.  The last day of school for kids and the last shopping day (tomorrow all the shops in our village will be closed - though, in a pinch, you might be able to find a petrol station/minimarket open). I'll be putting the rice on to cook for the traditional ris à l’amande dessert so that we are half-prepped for the Big Day tomorrow.

I was late in feeling the Christmas spirit this year. (My Dad died at the end of September, so it is going to be a very different Christmas for us.)  But we had friends over for dinner the other night (always fun watching our kids play hide and seek together!) and it meant we could pretend it was Christmas Eve, exchange some gifts and...

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eat more of all that lovely konfekt that we made!

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This weekend we also had some very yummy julefrokoster (lunches)…rugbrød (ryebread) with all the different toppings.  Here are a few of the things you'll typically come across:

  • marinerede sild (marinated herring with egg mayo),  karry sild (curried herring) and tomat sild (tomato herring)




  • fiskefileter med remoulade (hot crumbed fish fillets with remoulade sauce)

  • rejer (prawns) and gravad laks (smoked salmon with dill)

  • varmt leverpostej med champignon og bacon (hot liverpâté with mushrooms and bacon)




  • rullepølse med løgringe og sennep (rolled pork with ‘italian salad’ which is basically peas and carrot pieces mixed with mayo)








  • frikadeller (Danish meatballs)

  • ost (cheese)


.

Phew, I need a brisk walk after all that. Or perhaps a nap! ;-)

One sleep to go. See you tomorrow, when I'll be opening the door for the last time this Christmas!

Diane :)

22 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

22 December 2015

A few days ago I told you that I had been buying some marcipan pigs which will be our mandelgave the prize for finding the whole almond in the pudding at Christmas dinner on 24 December. So today we have the pudding itself - ris à l’amande! :)

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And here comes the recipe!  In my DDH’s family (Dear Danish Husband), they always cook the basic rice pudding on 23 December and finish it off on the 24 December.  Gives it a good taste and – more importantly – it’s nice to get half of the prep done early…  This recipe feeds 8 people – enough for us.  If you only want a small portion, half the quantities…



DAY ONE (23 DECEMBER)

Put 2½dl (250mls) of water and 2½ dl (250mls or 200g) of rice (short-grain, pudding,grødris) in a very large pot, bring to the boil and let it cook for 2 minutes.

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Slowly add 1 litre of milk (sødmælk, wholemilk is best) and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  When it boils, turn the heat right down, pop a lid on it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  Check on it every 10 minutes or so, giving it a good stir.  If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, you can take it off the heat after about 15 minutes and let it continue to cook, wrapped in a duvet on your bed 8)

Leave it to cool in a cool place – preferably overnight.

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DAY TWO (24 DECEMBER)

Give the cold rice pudding a good stir.  Add two large tablespoons of sugar (melis/sukker) and about 4 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (vanilje sukker).  Give it a taste, and check to see that it is sweet enough for you.  Then add 100g of chopped almonds (hakkede mandler).  Give it another good stir.  Beat 4dls (400ml) of whipping cream (piskefløde) until you get soft peaks and stir into the rice pudding.  At this point you’ll want to transfer it into a nice bowl, cover and keep cool until serving time.

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HERE COMES THE SCIENCE BIT!

Just before serving, add one whole, blanched almond (mandel).  Easiest way to remove the skin is to put the almond in a bowl of boiled water, let it sit for a minute, then the skin should squish right off.  A word of warning, sometimes the almonds break up when you remove the skin.  Make sure you have three or four almonds, so you end up with at least one whole one… ;-)  Add to the pudding, give it a good mix and take it to table.  Everyone gets a portion of the cold rice pudding, along with some hot, cherry sauce (kirsebærsauce).  Yum!  And now?  Let the hunt for the whole almond begin!

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Who’s going to win this year?  May the best man win (the marcipan pig)!

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See you tomorrow!

Diane :)

21 December 2015

Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)

So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!

21 December 2015

Do you have a family activity at Christmas? Ours is a trip to Tivoli and must include, in addition to several rides on Rutschebanen (the park's oldest and most popular roller coaster) and Dæmonen ('the Demon' loop the loop rollercoaster), a nostalgic trip down memory lane on the chair'o'planes! ;-)

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Everyone congregrates in front of Nimb to take a picture of the swans.

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How about a king size reindeer?

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This winter has been incredibly mild - I've hardly been wearing my woolly hat. At all. But I still remember the days of pushing our son round the Tivoli Christmas market in his buggy, all wrapped up in his ski suit, when it was minus 7c (19.4f) with a bracing windchill and hard snow everywhere - yikes! It may not be 'Christmassy' but I will settle for this year's light rain! (Son is 15 now and daughter is 13.)

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But this year the highlight of our Christmas so far has been...Star Wars VII! I promise no spoilers! But I can tell you that, thankfully, we weren't the cinemagoers these Storm Troopers were looking for! ;-)

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May the force be with us!

See you tomorrow!

Diane :-)