Some people in Denmark give and receive extra Advent gifts on the four Sundays of Advent.
Different types of candles and Advent calendars are popular in Denmark. A Kalenderly (candle calendar) is an Advent candle and most people have one of these types of candles. A Pakkekalender (gift calendar) is also a fun way to count the countdown for Christmas Eve. There are 24 small gifts for children on the calendar, one for each day until Christmas Eve.
Julekalender (Christmas calendar) is a television series with 24 episodes. An episode is shown every day in December and the last one airs on Christmas Eve. The first Julekalender was aired on television in Denmark in 1962. The two main Danish television channels DR and TV2 show different versions of Julekalender each year. The theme of the stories in the Julekalender usually follows a similar story, with someone trying to ruin Christmas and the main characters save Christmas!
In addition to the television series, both DR and TV2 produce advent calendars on paper to accompany the stories. DR is the oldest television channel in Denmark and its paper calendar is called Børnenes U-landskalender (Children’s U-Country Calendar) (goes somewhere else). He has been making calendars for more than 50 years and the proceeds from the sale of the calendar are intended to help poor children in a developing country. The calendar created by TV2 is called julekalender and the profits from that calendar are used to help Julemærkefonden, a charity for children in Denmark.
You can also support Julemærkefonden when you send Christmas cards in Denmark. Every year a stamp / sticker / Christmas stamp game called julemærket is sold in December to help raise funds for the charity. You also use a normal postage stamp, the julemærket stickers only make the publication look more Christmas-like!
Christmas parties are held from November 1 to December 24 where everyone has fun! Making cakes and cookies is popular in the time before Christmas. Gingerbread cookies and vanilla cookies are often favorites.
In Denmark, most people go to a religious service on Christmas Eve around 4:00 pm to listen to the Christmas sermon or to talk. It is also an ancient and traditional custom to give a taste to the animals on Christmas Eve, so some people will walk through the park or the woods and can take some food to give them to the animals and birds. You can also go for a walk to whet the appetite of the Christmas meal!
When they get home, the main Christmas meal is eaten between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is served on a beautifully decorated table. Popular Christmas meals include roast duck, goose or pork. Served with boiled and sweet potatoes, red cabbage, beetroot and jam / cranberry sauce.
Most families have a ‘ris a la mande’ (a special type of rice with milk, made of milk, rice, vanilla, almonds and whipped cream) as a dessert. All but one of the almonds are cut into pieces. The person who finds the whole almond receives a gift called Mandelgave (almond present). Traditionally the small gift was a marzipan pork! Now, sometimes, there is still a marzipan pig, but it is also something like candy or a small toy.
After the meal, the lights of the Christmas tree are lit, people can dance around the tree and sing Christmas carols. Then it’s time for people to open their gifts. The Christmas tree usually has a gold or silver star on top and often has silver “fairy hair” to make it shine.
On Christmas day, people gather with their family and have a good lunch together with open-faced Danish sandwiches on rye bread.
In Denmark, children believe that their gifts are brought by the “Julemanden” (meaning “Christmas Man”). He looks a lot like Santa and also travels with a sleigh and a reindeer. He lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding and receives help from ‘nisser’ who are like elves.
Saint Lucia’s Day (or Saint Lucia’s Day) is also celebrated on December 13, although it is most famous for being held in Sweden, a neighbor of Denmark.
In Danish Happy / Merry Christmas is ‘Glædelig Jul’.