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10 DANISH CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Danish Christmas Traditions

Christmas time is my favourite holiday! For me it’s a time to connect with your loved ones and forget about all the less good things that happened thought the year.

In Denmark, this time of the year it’s so beautiful that I recommend anyone to come for a visit. Copenhagen is full of sparkling lights and everyone is in good spirits. Danes fully embrace the Christmas spirit very early, sometimes mid-November you can see houses already decorated with lights and stars.

Danish Christmas Traditions

I can totally relate the term ‘Hygge’ with this time of the year, as everyone is feeling happy and enjoying a cozy time at home with the family and other loved ones.

It will be my second Christmas in Denmark and I already embraced some traditions that I really love here. Doing the Christmas tree in November it’s not a bad thing after all! Today I’m showing you 10 Danish Christmas Traditions that I have learned since living here.

CHRISTMAS CALENDARS

The Julekalender is the advent calendar in Denmark. They can also be called ‘gift calendar’ because instead of little chocolates the calendar have 24 small gifts. The tradition is primarily for children to have a gift a day, starting on the first of December until Christmas Eve, but adults can do it too.

This year I bought a DYI calendar and filled it myself with small gifts/chocolates to open throughout the month. A lot of families will do the calendars themselves, with small bags for example, for each day. This makes the lead up to Christmas way more fun!

Danish Christmas Traditions

ADVENT WREATH

The Advent wreath is used in many countries. In Denmark it’s decorated with four candles, one for each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas Eve.

Most of the ones I’ve seen are adorned with white candles, berries and cones and ideally red ribbons to be put up, like these ones. 

CALENDAR CANDLE

A candle with numbers 1 to 24 is used to count down the days from the first of December until Christmas Eve. Once a day, the families gather to light up the candle, burning one number each day.

It’s a very simple way of doing the countdown but it’s incorporated as a special tradition, generally shared by members of the family in a special time of the day.

Danish Christmas Traditions

DANISH BRAIDED CHRISTMAS HEARTS

The tradition of making this traditional Danish braided hearts and then hung up on the tree comes a long way. It is said that this tradition started with Hans Christian Andersen, but its unclear when they started to be used as a Christmas tree decoration, giving the fact that the originals ones had no handle. You can do your own with these instructions.

Danish Christmas Traditions
These are made in glass to put in the Christmas Tree

YULE GOAT

This Scandinavian and Northern European symbol was in the pass connected to Pagan festivals and misfortune amongst other bad things.

Nowadays is used in Denmark as decorative item. Made of straw and hold together with a red ribbon it can be seen in most Christmas markets around Copenhagen and it can also be used as smaller version to put up in the Christmas tree.

Danish Christmas Traditions Yule Goat

SAINT LUCIA

On the 13th of December, Saint Lucia it’s celebrated all over Denmark. In Copenhagen there are several places where you can see the ‘Lucia Walk’ which consists on a parade of young girls all dressed in white and holding candles while singing. The tallest girl will be at the front of the parade wearing a crown with four candles.



SWEET TRADITIONS

Amongst some of the most traditional food served during Christmas time in Denmark, the sweets for me take a special place. Most of it it’s due to the fact that the making of this deserts are normally associated with family time and being with your loved ones.

Danish Christmas Traditions Klejner
Vaniljekranse
RISENGRØD

It can be eaten all year round to be fair but during Christmas time it’s just takes another level as it makes you feel warm and cosy inside, a total ‘hygge’ for the mind. Risengrød it’s a rice pudding with milk, sugar and cinnamon on top. It’s very delicious!

RISALAMANDE

Ris a l’Amande it’s a cold rice pudding that it’s served with hot cherry sauce on top. It is tradition to hide on or more almonds in it. However finds the almond, gets a present!

ÆBLESKIVER

Most known as the pancake balls as they are made of sweet dough in a form of ball using a special pan. It’s served with strawberry jam and powdered sugar and I always have it by this time of the year!

Danish Christmas Traditions
Klejner and Æbleskiver
CHRISTMAS COOKIES

There a lot of traditional Danish cookies around, since cakes and cookies can’t really be missed in any place in Denmark! The ones I’m mentioning here are the most traditional, at least the ones I’m aware of.

The Klejner are fried twisted cookies make of dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar on top. Vaniljekranse are vanilla butter ring cookies and once you start eating them it’s hard to stop, just saying! Pebernødder are small rounded cookies made with a variety of spices. Brunkager it’s the Danish brown cookie with almond and pistachio nuts which I have seen but not yet tried it myself. Jødekager or Jewish cookie takes sugar, cinnamon and sliced almonds on top and are delicious.

GLÖGG

The traditional Danish drink that’s everywhere. All Christmas markets will be selling these and it’s basically hot red wine with cinnamon, raisins and almonds. You have to try it at least once!

DANCING AROUND THE TREE

On Christmas Eve after dinner and presents shared, the families dance together around the tree, holding hands and singing carols.

Danish Christmas Traditions

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

One of my favourite traditions is the Christmas Markets and they are all over. Just here in Copenhagen there are several around the city, where you can buy mostly handmade products such as scarves and gloves or decoration ornaments. They also have traditional treats making it a fun day out with family or friends.

Danish Christmas Traditions

Danish Christmas Traditions

I always love to learn more about other people’s culture and traditions, so I had to share this article you guys! What do you think?

What about your own experiences of Christmas in Denmark, did I miss something important? Let me know!

Skål, Cheers!

Pin this article for your Christmas Inspiration!

Danish Christmas Traditions

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CopenhagenDenmark

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN COPENHAGEN

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I have been living in Copenhagen for the last 12 months and since the day I moved over I was in love! I really think that it is true what they say – Danes are the happiest people in the world. I arrived at the start of the summer and it was lovely to get to know the city with warm sunny weather but fear not, there many things to do and see and most of all are just as equal during the winter.

If you are planning a visit prepare yourself to fall in love. The city is so easy to travel around and there are many offers when it comes to transports. The best way to explore the city is by bicycle – you can rent one of the Bycyklen bikes that are available all over the city, they even have sort of a GPS! Of course you can go around by foot as the city is small and quite easy to walk around.

What to See and Do

The Little Mermaid

The sculpture of The Little Mermaid presented to the city in 1913 is probably the most iconic stop point when you visit Copenhagen. It was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the city and was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid.

Carl Jacobsen fell in love with the character little mermaid after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale at Royal Danish Theatre. The sculpture was inspired by ballerina Ellen Price who was doing that role at the time.

Kastellet

Constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at the corners it is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It was set to build by King Christian IV in 1926 as a defence for war and nowadays serves various military activities of Danish Defence Ministry. The highlights to see are the Church, the Windmill and the King’s gate. There is also a changing of guard at the Central Guard House every day at 12.00pm.

Gefion Fountain

The fountain decorated with animal figures driven by God Gefjon recreates the mythical creation of Zealand where Copenhagen is located. It is used as a wishing well. Located just outside the Kastellet was designed by Danish artist Anders Bundgaard to be donated to the city by the Carlsberg Foundation.

Royal Danish Playhouse

You will easily identify this as it lies beautifully in the canal. Even if you don’t have a ticket for a play it is still worth to go around for the sights and maybe have food and drink with a view.

Amaliehaven

A small garden just as you walk to Amalienborg palace is a must, especially in the summer. It was a gift to the city by Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller in 1983.

Amalienborg Palace

Wandering around the four identical buildings that make Amalienborg is one the best things to see and do in Copenhagen. The royal family still lives inside the palace and it is funny to think that maybe they are watching us! The square outside the Palace is also famous for the Royal Guard, the Den Kongelige Livgarde.

Don’t miss the changing of the guard every day at 12pm, as they march through the streets from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg. Take the time for pictures with King Frederik V as the statue lies in the middle of the square.

Amalienborg Museum

A visit to Amalienborg Museum may be something that you consider as it will give a better understanding of Denmark’s royal history and traditions. • Entrance DKK 95.

Frederik’s Church

This church, also known as The Marble Church is just on the corner from Amalienborg and is one of the most impressive churches in the city to me. I love the green dome and I am hoping to visit soon from above to see the beautiful views of the city. • Entrance to Dome DKK 35.

Danish Museum of Art & Design

It was once the first public hospital in Denmark. Nowadays features several exhibitions from ceramics, glass, you name it! • Entrance DKK 100.

MORMORS

This is my favourite cafe in Copenhagen. I take all my visitors there because is just on the way to Nyhavn with accessible prices and has a unique décor. Various members of the royal family and actors have stopped there once.

Nyhavn

A former commercial port where once sailors gathered from all over the world is now probably the most visited part of Copenhagen. Why? Because is lovely to see all the colours of the houses perfected pictured with the large ships docked in the canal. Each season is different and with different attractions.

Look for number 9 as it is the oldest house there, since 1681 and for number 20 where Hans Christian Andersen used to live.

A simple walk around the canal can be relaxing as the atmosphere is great, normally with music playing in the background. Dinner is expensive but once in a while why not! You can try some of the most typical Danish dishes over there.

The National Gallery of Denmark – SMK

Denmark’s largest museum has a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art. Sometimes they feature special exhibitions of the royal collections. It’s a beautiful building a with a very nice garden where you can relax on your visit there. • Entrance DKK 110.

Rosenborg Castle

Built by King Christian IV, this 400 years castle is one of the most inspiring fairy-tale things to see in Copenhagen. The gardens are the country’s oldest royal gardens and were influenced by the Renaissance era. During the summer the gardens fill up with people and many do picnics. It’s a great place to spend a day. The museum inside the palace is famous for featuring the Crown Jewels and the coronation thrones. I personally have not been inside but time will come. • Entrance  to museum DKK 110.

Botanical Garden

The unique botanical garden in Copenhagen has over 13000 species all well identified, but what makes it special are the glasshouses going back to 1874. There is a nice coffee shop as well that I love, particularly to enjoy an ice cream in the summer.

Zoological Museum

It is the Natural History Museum of Denmark with a large collection on Darwin’s evolution but also featuring mammoths and Ice Age rhinos. • Entrance DKK 95.

The Round Tower – Rundetårn

The oldest functioning observatory in Europe was built in the 17th century thanks to astronomer Tycho Brache. It is a must because of the unique spiral architecture and the amazing views over Copenhagen. Prepare yourself to walk 209 meters to get to the top and to be amazed by the floating glass floor at 25 meters above the ground. • Entrance DKK 25.

The Copenhagen Lakes

It’s one of the most beautiful and relaxed areas of Copenhagen. It’s easy to walk around it or cycle. The area is known to have excellent coffee shops and restaurants serving very typical Danish dishes. During the summer you can also take a ride in one of the swan’s boats – it’s on my list for this upcoming summer.

Strøget

Popular for street performers this an area mainly for shopping but covers some points of interest on the way, such as the Church of Our Lady, where Prince Frederik and Princess Mary got married, The Court House in Nytorv Square, the Stork Fountain and the Amagertorv Square.

Christianborg Palace

There are several parts of the palace that are worth to see and some are still used by the Royal Family. You can visit the Royal Reception Rooms where The Oval Throne Room is and watch out from the balcony from where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed, I find this very cool! The Ruins from Bishop Absalon’s Castle from the 11th century and The Royal Stables are also available to visit. • Entrance to all parts DKK 150.

National Museum of Denmark

There is a vast collection from different times. The ones I found more fascinating are the Huldremose Woman, a body discovered in 1879 and dated back to 160BC to 340BC and the Vikings exhibition. • Entrance DKK 75.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

The art museum founded by Carl Jacobsen in 1888 has some interesting collections from Egypt art to the Roman statues. There is also the possibility to sit in the Café and relax in the beautiful garden. • Entrance DKK 110 / Free on Tuesdays.

Tivoli /Tivoli Gardens

This amazing park was founded in 1843 and it is by far one of the most inspiring places in Copenhagen! I have now lost count of how many times I visited but every time is special. During the day the bright colours and watching the rides up and down fill your eyes and by night time is the ‘WOW’ time – thousands of lights illuminate several paths across the park making it look like a fairy-tale. All of this with delicious food, what more can you ask for? I personally love the ice creams in the summer and the crepes in the winter.

Depending on the time of the year, special decorations come to live. In the summer everyone getters around in the middle of the green grass were music is normally played. Last October, by Halloween I was amazed with all the witches, pumpkins and skeletons. This Christmas I enjoyed the magical feeling with all the lights and carols every day. Unfortunately the park is closed from January until April. • Entrance DKK 110. • Entrance with all rides DKK 220.

Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale Museum

Hans Christian Andersen is the Danish author of a wide collection of fairy-tales most of all inspired from living in Copenhagen, as the Little Mermaid. In the museum you can get to know this author better and some of the inspiration for his tales. • Entrance DKK 60.

Meat Packing District Market – Køedbyen

The area is one of the trendiest places to go out in Copenhagen, either to eat or just have a drink in one of the many bars. It used to be Copenhagen’s meat industry area so don’t be shocked by the look of the buildings. The most famous restaurants over there are WarPigs and BOB Bistro. On Saturdays in the summer a market comes to live with a lot of food stalls around the area with very good prices.

Copenhagen Opera House

Across the canal from Amalienborg you will easily spot the Opera House. This is one of the most modern and expensive operas houses in the world. I have not been inside but can’t wait to try as the outside is very inspiring.

Copenhagen Street Food Market – Papirøen

This food market is one of my favourites of all in Copenhagen; I drag everyone that visits me there as I just can’t get enough of the amazing food served there. In the summer everyone jut getters around outside looking at the canal. If you are coming on a weekend I would avoid particularly the meal times and would try to go outside those hours as it can get packed. But apart from that there is a lovely décor and all types of food you can think of to try it on.

NOMA

This restaurant is considered the best restaurant in the world. Right here in Copenhagen, with two Michelin star, takes months for a reservation. I am currently on the waiting list for June 2017!

Christiania

The Free Town as it is known was established in 1971 by a group of hippies who occupied an abandoned site and developed their own set of society rules, independent from the Danish government. Nowadays this still applies – the society within the society – were buying/smoking weed is allowed. In 2012 the Foundation Freetown Christiania was created to avoid the constant conflicts between people living there and the Danish authorities.

I have visited many times and although the first time was strange I came to realize that is actually an interesting place to wonder around. In Christiania you will find homemade art, organic food, and nice views of the city. It also a special place, as for most areas, photos or filming is not allowed.

Chruch of Our Saviour

The high and beautiful bell tower in a spiral shape is the highlight of the church and can be seen from most of the city. Open in 1752 it is very popular amongst the tourists and be ready for the 400 steps to get to the top.

Frederiksberg Gardens

The gardens from Frederiksberg Palace is one of the most romantic places in Copenhagen but also a fun place to sit around with a picnic basket when the sun is out. On the entrance you can see Frederik VI a loved king in Denmark and don’t miss the Chinese Pavilion as it is so beautiful!

Copenhagen ZOO

Copenhagen Zoo may be something that you are interested, with over 3000 animals it will be for sure a nice day. I spend an afternoon in the Zoo and I enjoyed it, although I did think the Polar Bear located in the Arctic Ring which is supposed to be the highlight of the Zoo looked unhappy and was doing repetitive movements over and over again. • Entrance DKK 170.

Carlsberg

It is a must of the city where the world-famous Carlsberg Beer was made in the pass. You get to know the ingredients and even have a taste on some different beers. • Entrance DKK 100.

National Aquarium Denmark – Den Blå Planet

It is a fun place to spend an afternoon. A compilation of all kinds of aquatic animals can be seen here. My favourite part was definitely the Amazonas part where butterflies fly all around you. • Entrance DKK 170.

 Hope you like my travel guide, I will keep on update this with my experiences in Copenhagen.

Leave me a comment on your experiences and suggestions and Pin it for later!

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Last updated: 26/03/17

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