Christmas is a time for tradition. So what do you do if, as a couple, you come from two different countries, with two sets of traditions, as in our case, England and Denmark?
Luckily my husband and I have found a happy compromise – well, I’m happy, and he hasn’t complained – we do a bit of both. This year we celebrated Christmas in England, but with a strong Danish influence, and here is how it went.
22nd of December – Bought a tree and brought it indoors for the children to decorate. We never get our tree early in the month because the tradition in Denmark is to have live candles on it, in special holders, unless you have young children and/or pets, in which case it’s not advisable! My maternal grandfather used to say, “A Christmas tree never burns”, and this is certainly true if it’s fresh and full of sap. Nevertheless he always had a sneaky bucket of water hidden behind the sofa, “just in case”.
23rd of December – Traditionally Boxing Day is the day for the big Christmas lunch in our family, but we chose to have it on the 23rd instead, which was also the last Sunday in Advent, so I lit the last candle on my advent wreath and used it as a table decoration. In my home region of Northern Denmark lunch consists of pickled herring and other fish,
followed by a warm main course of sugar roasted baby new potatoes, ham, herb sausage, and kale, locally known as “grønlangkål” (the green stuff on the plate), which is pan-fried in butter, sugar, and cream. All served with schnapps and beer. A bit of a blow-out, but, oh, so yummy!
Christmas Eve – This is the big day in Denmark and the time for Christmas dinner, but as a concession to living in England, instead of roast pork, we had turkey with all the trimmings (and I mean ALL the trimmings!), followed by traditional English Christmas pudding and port. Then we let the kids loose at what’s under the tree… But first a glass of champagne before the starter – my favourite part 🙂
Christmas Day – On Christmas morning this little fella crawled out of by stocking! Then we went for brunch at a friend’s house, where we were treated to croissants, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and more champagne. Left just as they were wrestling their turkey into the oven, feeling smug that we’d had ours the
night before and could just put our feet up and watch a DVD! But not without a slice of the Christmas cake my husband made in October. Marzipan decorations by daughter.
Boxing Day – Rounded off a relaxing day with a candle-lit Christmas concert in the beautiful church of St. Martin in the Fields on Trafalgar Square. Sadly, due to the train strike a journey of normally 1 hour took 2½ hours, but it was worth it. The Belmont Ensemble of London played Handel, Mozart, and other baroque composers to perfection, including Pachelbel’s Canon in D, which always sends shivers down my spine. Then home again to warm up over a bottle of red wine and a big vat of spaghetti.
27th December – Invited friends over for another traditional Danish lunch, this time a cold
buffet consisting of “smørrebrød” (or “smörgasbord” in Swedish), again with the prerequisite beer and schnapps. This was followed by a dessert of cold rice pudding mixed with whipped cream and vanilla, served with hot cherry sauce. Dare I say it…? Yep, another blow-out.
28th December – Time to tidy up and take out the recycling. Oh, and ponder the mystery of how quickly a bottle of something turns into… well, just a bottle.
I wish you all a Happy New Year, and hope to catch you again in 2013!