It’s safe to say that Christmas was a more modest and tranquil affair back in Emma Thorsen, Anna Mikkelsen and Margrethe Olsen’s day. They all had a shared heritage, coming to Chicago from Denmark in the late 19th century, which is probably what drew them so close to one another, but each had forged their own Danish-American customs in their new country. Although they all adjusted to their new lives in their own way, Danish Christmas traditions would always be a very special time for all of them, as it may be for you today.
Like The Ghost of Christmas Past, I can picture it as it may have been 125 years ago: each household’s tree has been cut and dressed, and stockings are hung with care. Emma sits in her rocking chair near the hearth embroidering a lovely handkerchief for her dear friend Anna while her husband James carves tiny wooden animals for his many grandchildren. Meanwhile, a few blocks away, Margrethe is busy wrapping a beautiful hairpin from her favorite department store on State Street, Marshall Field’s & Company. She knows that Anna would love adding it to her collection. Not far away Anna jars her preserves and bakes diligently, filling her pie tins not just with her secret family recipes, but also with love and admiration for her cherished friends.
Christmastime has a wonderful way of reminding us about the most important things in life, doesn’t it?
Just a few weeks ago The Danish American Athletic Club, an important organization within the Danish Community, had their annual Danish Christmas Party. Along with the festive tree and cheerful Santa was a magnificent dinner featuring traditional Danish fare: Ande steg (Duck), Flaeskesteg (Pork roast), Brun kantofler (Browned potatoes), white potatoes, Sovs (Gravy), Roed kaal (Red cabbage) and lovely Risalamande (Rice pudding). It’s safe to say that jolly old St. Nick will be weighing down his sleigh a bit more this year with that kind of meal!
The DAAC is a Danish-founded organization, which was originally formed as a means to strengthen bonds between residents of Danish descent here in American while also preserving the Danish culture through native language classes, folk dance and various athletics. In addition to throwing one festive Christmas party, the DAAC also works with other organizations to sponsor and organize many wonderful events throughout the year, including a monthly movie night at The Danish Home of Chicago, and a Festelavn Party with the Danish Sisterhood each February. They also hold a Family Bingo, Gløgg and Æbleskive Party in December. They also offer many wonderful classes and club activities,
Read more about the Danish American Athletic Club here: http://www.daac.info/history.asp