December 23, 2015
Can you believe that tonight is the night before the night?! The anticipation is growing! If you didn’t already know, today is Lille Juleaften, Little Christmas Eve, as our Scandinavian friends know it. This is when things really ramp up on the holiday front! However, if you’ve read previous posts like this one or this one you can see the Danes actually got started weeks ago!
Leave it to the Danes to start the celebrating a day early, and Lille Juleaften is filled with just about as much enthusiasm as Christmas Eve is here in America. Whereas here in the states children may have been off from school all week, in Denmark winter break usually starts today. Also, unlike here in America, most butikkerne (shops) and businesses close for the holiday this evening so that everyone can enjoy a wonderful holiday together.
Julenissen (Norwegian), Father Christmas, Père Noël (French), Weihnachtsmann (German), Joulupukki (Finnish), jólasveinn (Icelandic), jultomten (Swedish), Santa Claus. Yes, no matter how you say it, the spirit of the season is in full effect!
Speaking of, Danish researcher Anders Hougaard, a senior scientist at the Neurological Clinic at Rigshospitalet hospital in Denmark, wanted to know if the Christmas spirit holds a special place in the brain. His small study was implemented by showing participants ‘Christmassy’ and ‘non-Christmassy’ pictures, and although his hypothesis was inconclusive he did determine that specific areas of the brain do light up when people are shown pictures of their holidays. If you ask me, that’s proof enough!
Whether you are in Denmark, America, or anywhere in between, the next three days are filled with love, laughter, generosity and joy. Yes, it is a time for presents, but, even more so it is a time for presence. Because what are the holidays without spending time with the ones we love? Now that is the true meaning of the holiday spirit.
So as you sit by the light of your juletræ (Christmas tree) enjoying a nice warm mug of gløgg or julebryg, as you relish the last bits of your delicious helping of ris a la mande and hope for the mandelgave (almond prize), and as you watch the faces of those you love opening their julegaver (Christmas gifs), then afterwards sing julesange (carols) I hope you will take a little moment to cherish the spirit in which we believe on this Lille Juleaften, Little Christmas Eve.
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