It’s the first day of December and Christmas has arrived! This is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. The twinkling lights, the smell of fresh evergreens, spiced cookies, flickering of candles and of course the little nisse (elf-like creatures) and above all . . . the hygge!!
Throughout this season, I will be adding my 24-day countdown, just like we have on our advent calendar! Only this will be a countdown of my favorite Christmas traditions!
1st Day of December
On the 1st of December Christmas brings us . . . .the mischievous elf-like creatures called ‘julenisse’ or ‘nisse’.
These somewhat temperamental little troublemakers must be treated with respect and kept in good spirits throughout the season. To the right is a photo of my daughter’s “nissepige” (nisse-girl). She’s made by Birgitte Frigast. This little nisse appears every 1st of December bringing little gifts on the advent calendar, one for each day leading up to Christmas Eve.
In the “old” days, nisse were considered the protectors of a household or farmstead and help the farmers with small chores around the farm. There are different variations of nisser, some old, some young, all with pointed red hats, some are grumpy and some are happy, Luckily we have always had the happy ones in our house!
In our family, we make sure to keep the nisser happy as we do want them making any naughty problems, so we give them a little bowl of “risengrød” (rice porridge), with a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a pat of butter on top. This all happens on the 23rd of December (stay tuned)!
2nd Day of December
The 2nd day of December brings the Countdown Candle (or as we call it in Danish . . . Kalenderlys). These candles typically have some kind of Christmas design on them and adorned with numbers from 1-24.
This is such a fun and cozy tradition that brings joy on those dark December mornings in anticipation of Christmas Eve/Day. It’s typical for Danes to have a breakfast candle to soothe their souls on hectic mornings.
As you will soon find out, towards the end of this adventure, candles are a big thing for Danes, and especially here around Christmastime!
This is a total hygge (cozy) aesthetic tradition that you could also start in your house! There’s nothing more comforting than starting and ending the day by candle light, and it’s such a fun way to count down to Christmas!
3rd Day of December
The 3rd day of December brings the famous Danish woven Christmas hearts. These are made throughout the holiday season, and hung on the Christmas tree and filled with Christmas candies. The hearts are made out of glazed paper, or sometimes fabric. Colors vary, but traditionally they are made with red and white colors, which are of course, the national colors of Denmark. An interesting note is that the woven hearts were said to be created first by the famous H.C. Andersen. The oldest known braided heart, which is actually yellow and green, is on display at the Hans Christian Andersen museum in Odense.
Over the years, some of the designs have become very intricate with extremely creative designs. They also can be made with different colors such as red and green, gold and green, red and gold, and green and gold. You can purchase templates that have already been cut out for you so all you have to do is weave the paper together. This makes the process a little faster and easier!
This is a fun activity to do for both the young and old, and especially delicious to fill with candies!
4th Day of December
The 4th day of Christmas brings one of my favorite Danish Christmas books – “Peters Jul” (Peters Christmas) by Johan Krohn.
This book is comprised of classic poems about heartwarming tales of Christmas time traditions in Denmark during the 1860’s. These poems described as stories of Christmas spirit and traditions, and lots of Christmas joy!
A favorite memory from my childhood is sitting and having this read to me the night before Christmas. Reading the book really does give you the feeling of what it would be like to experience Christmastime in Denmark in the 1860’s, a simple time, but a time full of those timeless Christmas traditions, with family at the center.
This book is both for the young and old, giving a good insight to Christmastime in the 1860’s both culturally and historically. A true Danish Christmas Classic.