December 12, 2014

cookiesBoth Denmark and America share many Christmas traditions, just as many other cultures do around the world at this time of year.  By now, most households have brought home the most perfect juletrae (Christmas tree) and have spent a lovely evening together decorating it.  Plates of our favorite Christmas cookies, such as the traditional Danish butter cookie Klassiske Vaniljekranse (classic vanilla wreaths), burne kager (gingerbread cookies) and pebber nodder (Danish Christmas cookies) have been baked to nibble and share. Food is such an important part of the Danish culture, and it is said that if a visitor leaves your home without being fed, he will carry away the Christmas spirit. Of course, that just can’t be permitted!  So, food is shared generously with everyone, especially delicious Christmas cookies!


Carl Larsson's painting Lucia, 1908

Carl Larsson’s painting, Lucia, 1908

While sifting through the contents of the hope chest, as I frequently do, I often wonder how similar our lives today actually were to Emma and The Ladies.  I’m sure they all baked cookies with their children and grandchildren, just as we do, sharing them amongst one another around a beautifully decorated tree.  Given their strong faith, something I’ve learned from their letters and journals, I am quite confident that they participated in a Christmas church service within their community.  Although Luciadag (the Day of Lucia) was not celebrated in Denmark until 1944, perhaps they too shared in a Santa Lucia celebration on December 13th to usher in the Christmas season.


Danish Home Santa Lucia festivites

Danish Home Santa Lucia festivites


Santa Lucia and her helpers

Last weekend residents of The Danish Home and friends at The Danish Sisterhood participated in a St. Lucia celebration of their own.  It was a beautiful afternoon spent singing Danish-American songs, reading the story of Santa Lucia, and dancing around the tree to get in the Christmas spirit.   Residents, friends, and family members participated in this wonderful tradition.  Some of the most important participants were the grandchildren who made the procession possible, and they did such a wonderful job!


bjornson male chorus

Photo courtesy of the Bjornson Male Chorus website

This weekend residents of The Danish Home will continue in the Christmas merriment by attending the 21st Annual Dansk Julegudstjeneste (Danish Christmas Service) being held at Edison Park Lutheran ChurchThe ever popular, and always extraordinary, Bjornson Male Chorus, a group dedicated to preserving Norwegian heritage through singing of Scandinavian music, will also be participating in the service. This is another wonderful tradition many look forward to each year  to get in the spirit.


I hope you are getting into the Christmas spirit and feeling the joy that this time of year brings.  I’d love to hear about your most cherished family traditions.  Please comment below.  And, as always, go to our Pinterest boards for inspiration, Christmas recipes, and decoration ideas!