Denmark - Christmas
traditions & customs
Christmas in Denmark is suppose to be when a mischievous
elf called Nisse can have his fun. He is said to live in
the lofts of old farmhouses and enjoys playing jokes. He
wears gray woolen clothes, a red bonnet, red stockings
and white clogs. Families leave him a bowl of rice
pudding or porridge on Christmas Eve to keep his jokes
within limits. Usually though he is kind and helpful
helping out on the farms and being especially good to
Christmas Eve dinner begins with rice pudding that holds
a magic almond inside. Whoever finds the almond receives
a prize. They then have goose, red cabbage and browned
potatoes. After that lots of pastries and cakes.
The Danish tradition is the Christmas plate. This was a
tradition in the early days where rich Danes gave plates
biscuits and fruit as presents to their servants. These
plates were the nicest and best kind and were not used
for everyday use, this is the reason why they became so
They take much pride making their own decorations with
bright paper, bits of wood and straw. The parents
secretly decorate the tree, and children are not
permitted to see the tree until dinner on Christmas Eve.
The tree is then lit up and families gather around to
sing carols and hymns.
Each Sunday in Advent, guests are invited to join in the
lighting of the candles on the Advent crown. Adults
drink a warming mixture of red wine, spices and raisins,
and children drink a sweet fruit juice, like strawberry.
Everybody eats small cakes of batter which have been
cooked over the fire in a special pan, and dusted with
In Denmark Christmas Eve is a special time. It is at
this time parents secretly decorate the Christmas tree
with home made wood and straw baubles. The children are
only able to see the tree before dinner when it is lit
up and the family gathers to sing carols and hymns.
In Denmark Christmas Eve is called Juleaften and is the
biggest occasion of the year. Parties go on all night,
with traditional prune-stuffed roast goose, red cabbage,
fried pastries, and cinnamon-laced rice pudding called
The Christmas elves called Julenisse are appeased with
rice pudding, and dishes of seeds are placed outdoors
for wild birds.
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