Dear Members and Friends of the Danish Canadian Museum,
Please find attached the Danish Canadian National Museum's February
2022 newsletter. We would like to thank Aase Christensen for her
wonderful work in compiling this newsletter.
Please remember to renew your membership. A renewal form is included
on the final page of the newsletter. You can mail it in with a cheque,
or you can visit our website and renew online:
Become A Member | The Danish Canadian
If you have moved or need to update your contact information, please
reply to this email.
Thank you for your continued support of our museum.
Danish Canadian National Museum
We will be holding our (mandatory) Annual General Meeting on Sunday, March 6 at 2:00 pm via "ZOOM" on the internet so we would dearly love to have you join us. If you do not have the ZOOM program/app on your computer, you can download it from the internet for FREE. Once you have the program on your computer, all you have to do is click on the link below and follow the prompts to join the meeting.
We will be discussing the possibility of holding one or more social events in the days to come (maybe an outdoor St Hans in June??) so we really need your input and opinions on that issue as well as others.
Please gather around your computer on Sunday at 2:00 pm and join the meeting, we really need your participation this time. I have attached the Minutes of last year's AGM as well as the Agenda for this year's meeting.
Rebecca Taylor is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Danish Club AGM
Time: Mar 6, 2022 02:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 868 4278 5515
Cheers, Tom Hedekar
One of our Club members, Rikke Melgaard Liffiton, has written and published a wonderful book on a subject that is dear to the hearts of all Danes, titled "The Christmas Nisse". I have attached copies of the front and back cover of Rikke's book.
Rikke will be at Woodgrove Mall selling her book and several other Christmas items from 10 am til 6 pm today (Sunday, December 12) located in the "Mom's Market" craft fair beside the down ramp from the food court.
If you can't visit her today, Rikke says you can also buy her book at:
During the Christmas days;
The Old School House, Qualicum
Springford farm, Nanoose
Superior farm, Lantzville
Ingram (wholesale store)
Instagram & Facebook christmasnisse
I know that you will be delighted with Rikke's book and we join Rikke in wishing you Glædelig Jul 🇩🇰
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 20th 2020
Today is the last Sunday before Advent, 5 days until Christmas, I have decided this last week will be dedicated to Christmas memories. This may look like new ones to create or perhaps bring the old memories back anew. All too often we over look the value of Christmas memories until times like these where the memories are like a strong hold of comfort and love to carry us through this time and onto the new unknown.
I encourage everyone to think a little bit outside the box or perhaps at the beginning of your new box of memories. It's been a practice of mine for over 30 years to add something to my Christmas memory box that I share every year with my children and now grandchildren. The stories attached to each item and why I added them when I open this box every year brings such joy to my heart. This memory box is not full of stuff, its full of pictures, pieces of paper, and a few items, like the first gift my mom gave my oldest daughter, a music Christmas carousel. She was only 6 months old but my mom loved watching her watch the carousel and she had to get it for her, I can see it all like a movie, how they looked and sounded 26 years ago. An old napkin from the time we got lost looking for a tree in the middle of nowhere. There is also a gum wrapper that I stapled to a story when we shared a simple piece of gum with someone in line that had really needed a friend. I spent the next hour sitting and talking over coffee with them. We are still friends. Take the time to create new memories, look at old ones and even more, share them. Let's slow down and celebrate this Christmas with a focus of what we truly have.
Christmas is a special time of year, everyone always says this and I can remember always hearing it, I remember the story in church of Jesus's birth, I remember singing and acting it out in the play. We hear songs about it, yet it was not until this year I fully understood just how magical it is. Even with people being under duress and feeling alone and disconnected, scared of the unknown. Christmas is still that light force that brings us hope that miracles and magic really can happen.
So for today with these thoughts in my mind I have chosen "The Fir Tree" by Hans Christian Andersen, another Christmas Classic.
The Little Fir tree who was in such a hurry that he never really saw what he had, or enjoyed what was.
The Fir-Tree" (Danish: Grantræet) is a literary fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875). The tale is about a fir tree so anxious to grow up, so anxious for greater things, that he cannot appreciate living in the moment.
Out in the woods stood a nice little Fir Tree. The place he had was a very good one: the sun shone on him: as to fresh air, there was enough of that, and round him grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as firs. But the little Fir wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.
He did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care for the little cottage children that ran about and prattled when they were in the woods looking for wild-strawberries. The children often came with a whole pitcher full of berries, or a long row of them threaded on a straw, and sat down near the young tree and said, "Oh, how pretty he is! What a nice little fir!" But this was what the Tree could not bear to hear.
At the end of a year he had shot up a good deal, and after another year he was another long bit taller; for with fir trees one can always tell by the shoots how many years old they are.
"Oh! Were I but such a high tree as the others are," sighed he. "Then I should be able to spread out my branches, and with the tops to look into the wide world! Then would the birds build nests among my branches? And when there was a breeze, I could bend with as much stateliness as the others!"
Neither the sunbeams, nor the birds, nor the red clouds which morning and evening sailed above him, gave the little Tree any pleasure.
In winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a hare would often come leaping along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that made him so angry! But two winters were past, and in the third the Tree was so large that the hare was obliged to go round it. "To grow and grow, to get older and be tall," thought the Tree --"that, after all, is the most delightful thing in the world!"
In autumn the wood-cutters always came and felled some of the largest trees. This happened every year; and the young Fir Tree, that had now grown to a very comely size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent great trees fell to the earth with noise and cracking, the branches were lopped off, and the trees looked long and bare; they were hardly to be recognized; and then they were laid in carts, and the horses dragged them out of the wood.
Where did they go to? What became of them?
In spring, when the swallows and the storks came, the Tree asked them, "Don't you know where they have been taken? Have you not met them anywhere?"
The swallows did not know anything about it; but the Stork looked musing, nodded his head, and said, "Yes; I think I know; I met many ships as I was flying hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent masts, and I venture to assert that it was they that smelt so of fir. I may congratulate you, for they lifted themselves on high most majestically!"
"Oh, were I but old enough to fly across the sea! But how does the sea look in reality? What is it like?"
"That would take a long time to explain," said the Stork, and with these words off he went. "Rejoice in thy growth!" said the Sunbeams. "Rejoice in thy vigorous growth, and in the fresh life that moveth within thee!"
And the Wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears over him; but the Fir understood it not.
When Christmas came, quite young trees were cut down: trees which often were not even as large or of the same age as this Fir Tree, who could never rest, but always wanted to be off. These young trees, and they were always the finest looking, retained their branches; they were laid on carts, and the horses drew them out of the wood.
"Where are they going to?" asked the Fir. "They are not taller than I; there was one indeed that was considerably shorter; and why do they retain all their branches? Whither are they taken?"
"We know! We know!" chirped the Sparrows. "We have peeped in at the windows in the town below! We know whither they are taken! The greatest splendor and the greatest magnificence one can imagine await them. We peeped through the windows, and saw them planted in the middle of the warm room and ornamented with the most splendid things, with gilded apples, with gingerbread, with toys, and many hundred lights!
"And then?" asked the Fir Tree, trembling in every bough. "And then? What happens then?"
"We did not see anything more: it was incomparably beautiful."
I would fain know if I am destined for so glorious a career," cried the Tree, rejoicing. "That is still better than to cross the sea! What a longing do I suffer! Were Christmas but come! I am now tall, and my branches spread like the others that were carried off last year! Oh! were I but already on the cart! Were I in the warm room with all the splendor and magnificence! Yes; then something better, something still grander, will surely follow, or wherefore should they thus ornament me? Something better, something still grander must follow -- but what? Oh, how I long, how I suffer! I do not know myself what is the matter with me!"
"Rejoice in our presence!" said the Air and the Sunlight. "Rejoice in thy own fresh youth!"
But the Tree did not rejoice at all; he grew and grew, and was green both winter and summer. People that saw him said, "What a fine tree!" and towards Christmas he was one of the first that was cut down. The axe struck deep into the very pith; the Tree fell to the earth with a sigh; he felt a pang -- it was like a swoon; he could not think of happiness, for he was sorrowful at being separated from his home, from the place where he had sprung up. He well knew that he should never see his dear old comrades, the little bushes and flowers around him, anymore; perhaps not even the birds! The departure was not at all agreeable.
The Tree only came to himself when he was unloaded in a court-yard with the other trees, and heard a man say, "That one is splendid! We don't want the others." Then two servants came in rich livery and carried the Fir Tree into a large and splendid drawing-room. Portraits were hanging on the walls, and near the white porcelain stove stood two large Chinese vases with lions on the covers. There, too, were large easy-chairs, silken sofas, large tables full of picture-books and full of toys, worth hundreds and hundreds of crowns -- at least the children said so. And the Fir Tree was stuck upright in a cask that was filled with sand; but no one could see that it was a cask, for green cloth was hung all round it, and it stood on a large gaily-colored carpet. Oh! how the Tree quivered! What was to happen? The servants, as well as the young ladies, decorated it. On one branch there hung little nets cut out of colored paper, and each net was filled with sugarplums; and among the other boughs gilded apples and walnuts were suspended, looking as though they had grown there, and little blue and white tapers were placed among the leaves. Dolls that looked for all the world like men -- the Tree had never beheld such before -- were seen among the foliage, and at the very top a large star of gold tinsel was fixed. It was really splendid -- beyond description splendid.
"This evening!" they all said. "How it will shine this evening!"
Oh!" thought the Tree. "If the evening were but come! If the tapers were but lighted! And then I wonder what will happen! Perhaps the other trees from the forest will come to look at me! Perhaps the sparrows will beat against the windowpanes! I wonder if I shall take root here, and winter and summer stand covered with ornaments!"
He knew very much about the matter -- but he was so impatient that for sheer longing he got a pain in his back, and this with trees is the same thing as a headache with us.
The candles were now lighted -- what brightness! What splendor! The Tree trembled so in every bough that one of the tapers set fire to the foliage. It blazed up famously.
"Help! Help!" cried the young ladies, and they quickly put out the fire.
Now the Tree did not even dare tremble. What a state he was in! He was so uneasy lest he should lose something of his splendor, that he was quite bewildered amidst the glare and brightness; when suddenly both folding-doors opened and a troop of children rushed in as if they would upset the Tree. The older persons followed quietly; the little ones stood quite still. But it was only for a moment; then they shouted that the whole place re-echoed with their rejoicing; they danced round the Tree, and one present after the other was pulled off.
"What are they about?" thought the Tree. "What is to happen now!" And the lights burned down to the very branches, and as they burned down they were put out one after the other, and then the children had permission to plunder the Tree. So they fell upon it with such violence that all its branches cracked; if it had not been fixed firmly in the ground, it would certainly have tumbled down.
The children danced about with their beautiful playthings; no one looked at the Tree except the old nurse, who peeped between the branches; but it was only to see if there was a fig or an apple left that had been forgotten.
"A story! A story!" cried the children, drawing a little fat man towards the Tree. He seated himself under it and said, "Now we are in the shade, and the Tree can listen too. But I shall tell only one story. Now which will you have?; that about Ivedy-Avedy, or about Humpy-Dumpy, who tumbled downstairs, and yet after all came to the throne and married the princess?"
"Ivedy-Avedy," cried some; "Humpy-Dumpy," cried the others. There was such a bawling and screaming -- the Fir Tree alone was silent, and he thought to himself, "Am I not to bawl with the rest? Am I to do nothing whatever?" for he was one of the company, and had done what he had to do.
And the man told about Humpy-Dumpy that tumbled down, who notwithstanding came to the throne, and at last married the princess. And the children clapped their hands, and cried. "Oh, go on! Do go on!" They wanted to hear about Ivedy-Avedy too, but the little man only told them about Humpy-Dumpy. The Fir Tree stood quite still and absorbed in thought; the birds in the wood had never related the like of this. "Humpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet he married the princess! Yes, yes! That's the way of the world!" thought the Fir Tree, and believed it all, because the man who told the story was so good-looking. "Well, well! who knows, perhaps I may fall downstairs, too, and get a princess as wife! And he looked forward with joy to the morrow, when he hoped to be decked out again with lights, playthings, fruits, and tinsel.
"I won't tremble to-morrow!" thought the Fir Tree. "I will enjoy to the full all my splendor! To-morrow I shall hear again the story of Humpy-Dumpy, and perhaps that of Ivedy-Avedy too." And the whole night the Tree stood still and in deep thought.
In the morning the servant and the housemaid came in. "Now then the splendor will begin again," thought the Fir. But they dragged him out of the room, and up the stairs into the loft: and here, in a dark corner, where no daylight could enter, they left him. "What's the meaning of this?" thought the Tree. "What am I to do here? What shall I hear now, I wonder?" And he leaned against the wall lost in reverie. Time enough had he too for his reflections; for days and nights passed on, and nobody came up; and when at last somebody did come, it was only to put some great trunks in a corner, out of the way. There stood the Tree quite hidden; it seemed as if he had been entirely forgotten.
"'Tis now winter out-of-doors!" thought the Tree. "The earth is hard and covered with snow; men cannot plant me now, and therefore I have been put up here under shelter till the spring-time comes! How thoughtful that is! How kind man is, after all! If it only were not so dark here, and so terribly lonely! Not even a hare! And out in the woods it was so pleasant, when the snow was on the ground, and the hare leaped by; yes -- even when he jumped over me; but I did not like it then! It is really terribly lonely here!"
Squeak! Squeak!" said a little Mouse, at the same moment, peeping out of his hole. And then another little one came. They snuffed about the Fir Tree, and rustled among the branches.
"It is dreadfully cold," said the Mouse. "But for that, it would be delightful here, old Fir, wouldn't it?"
"I am by no means old," said the Fir Tree. "There's many a one considerably older than I am."
"Where do you come from," asked the Mice; "and what can you do?" They were so extremely curious. "Tell us about the most beautiful spot on the earth. Have you never been there? Were you never in the larder, where cheeses lie on the shelves, and hams hang from above; where one dances about on tallow candles: that place where one enters lean, and comes out again fat and portly?"
"I know no such place," said the Tree. "But I know the wood, where the sun shines and where the little birds sing." And then he told all about his youth; and the little Mice had never heard the like before; and they listened and said,
"Well, to be sure! How much you have seen! How happy you must have been!"
"I!" said the Fir Tree, thinking over what he had himself related. "Yes, in reality those were happy times." And then he told about Christmas-eve, when he was decked out with cakes and candles.
"Oh," said the little Mice, "how fortunate you have been, old Fir Tree!"
"I am by no means old," said he. "I came from the wood this winter; I am in my prime, and am only rather short for my age."
"What delightful stories you know," said the Mice: and the next night they came with four other little Mice, who were to hear what the Tree recounted: and the more he related, the more he remembered himself; and it appeared as if those times had really been happy times. "But they may still come -- they may still come! Humpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet he got a princess!" and he thought at the moment of a nice little Birch Tree growing out in the woods: to the Fir, that would be a real charming princess.
"Who is Humpy-Dumpy?" asked the Mice. So then the Fir Tree told the whole fairy tale, for he could remember every single word of it; and the little Mice jumped for joy up to the very top of the Tree. Next night two more Mice came, and on Sunday two Rats even; but they said the stories were not interesting, which vexed the little Mice; and they, too, now began to think them not so very amusing either.
"Do you know only one story?" asked the Rats.
"Only that one," answered the Tree. "I heard it on my happiest evening; but I did not then know how happy I was."
"It is a very stupid story! Don't you know one about bacon and tallow candles? Can't you tell any larder stories?"
"No," said the Tree.
"Then good-bye," said the Rats; and they went home.
At last the little Mice stayed away also; and the Tree sighed: "After all, it was very pleasant when the sleek little Mice sat round me, and listened to what I told them. Now that too is over. But I will take good care to enjoy myself when I am brought out again."
But when was that to be? Why, one morning there came a quantity of people and set to work in the loft. The trunks were moved, the tree was pulled out and thrown -- rather hard, it is true -- down on the floor, but a man drew him towards the stairs, where the daylight shone.
"Now a merry life will begin again," thought the Tree. He felt the fresh air, the first sunbeam -- and now he was out in the courtyard. All passed so quickly, there was so much going on around him, the Tree quite forgot to look to himself. The court adjoined a garden, and all was in flower; the roses hung so fresh and odorous over the balustrade, the lindens were in blossom, the Swallows flew by, and said, "Quirre-vit! My husband is come!" but it was not the Fir Tree that they meant.
"Now, then, I shall really enjoy life," said he exultingly, and spread out his branches; but, alas, they were all withered and yellow! It was in a corner that he lay, among weeds and nettles. The golden star of tinsel was still on the top of the Tree, and glittered in the sunshine.
In the court-yard some of the merry children were playing who had danced at Christmas round the Fir Tree, and were so glad at the sight of him. One of the youngest ran and tore off the golden star.
"Only look what is still on the ugly old Christmas tree!" said he, trampling on the branches, so that they all cracked beneath his feet.
And the Tree beheld all the beauty of the flowers, and the freshness in the garden; he beheld himself, and wished he had remained in his dark corner in the loft; he thought of his first youth in the wood, of the merry Christmas-eve, and of the little Mice who had listened with so much pleasure to the story of Humpy-Dumpy.
"'Tis over -- 'tis past!" said the poor Tree. "Had I but rejoiced when I had reason to do so! But now 'tis past, 'tis past!"
And the gardener's boy chopped the Tree into small pieces; there was a whole heap lying there. The wood flamed up splendidly under the large brewing copper, and it sighed so deeply! Each sigh was like a shot.
The boys played about in the court, and the youngest wore the gold star on his breast which the Tree had had on the happiest evening of his life. However, that was over now -- the Tree gone, the story at an end. All, all was over -- every tale must end at last. - Story by: HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
Below is the link for the Fir Tree movie.
Just like an impatient child, the little fir tree in the woods is anxious to quickly grow up to become an impressive, tall tree like the others. Seasons come and go as the fir tree grows, but the pleasures of sun, clouds, and singing birds do not impress him. All he wants is to grow as large and beautiful as possible. The birds tell him when the other trees are cut down, they become the masts of mighty seafaring ships. This sounds like a great adventure to the fir tree until he learns some of them get taken into houses at Christmastime and decorated.
He keeps hoping he is beautiful enough to be chosen as a Christmas tree. Sure enough, one winter he is cut down and taken inside a grand house where he is decorated with every beautiful bit of glitter and tinsel that can fit among his branches. Delighted to be present for all the fun and delight of the children—especially the stories told by the fat storyteller—the fir tree awaits the fun he expects will go on the following night, but in the morning he is taken up into the attic. Left alone there with only mice to trade stories with, the fir tree is unaware his green branches are turning brown. The following spring he is pulled out of the attic and placed in the yard, where the youngest child takes down the tinsel star from the treetop. No one pays the fir tree any attention as they cut him into firewood and set him alight.
The impatience of the tree to grow up as tall as possible as quickly as possible is one small children can readily relate to. However, Andersen embeds this longing with the caution children should enjoy the pleasures of being children as long as they can, for all too soon the harsh realities of adult life will be upon them. The tinsel star carried away by the youngest child is a poignant reminder fame and attention are brief illusions set against long periods of being ignored and abandoned.
It is by no accident that Hans Christian Andersen chose the Fir tree as a the main character of his story. Fir trees are recognized by people around the world, and must have at a time talked about the tree. The fir tree holds quite a great amount of meaning in the life of people and they represent a lot in the life of humans.
The fir tree is a symbol of truth, forthrightness, honesty, friendship, hope, promise, renewal, endurance, and determination.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 19, 2020
There is one Christmas tale many have to read every year in Denmark it is the famous Peter's Jul. Peter’s Christmas
Jeg glæder mig i denne tid – nu falder julesneen hvid – så ved jeg, Julen kommer. (I’m happy in this season – now the Christmas snow is falling white – then I know, Christmas is coming.) So begins Peters Jul (Peter’s Christmas), an old children’s book that still colours the way Danes view Christmas…
Preparation of æbleskiver for Christmas. Drawing from the original book. (Copyright expired; found at Wikimedia Commons.)
Published by Johan Krohn in 1866, the illustrated book has become a Danish Christmas classic that keeps turning up again and again in Danish homes. I guess generally julen [yooln] is a nostalgic time for many Danes, where you take on your rose-coloured glasses and look back at the ”good old days” – before nytår (New Year) sets in and it’s time to party and look forward.
Here’s a classical quote from the story to give you some idea of the mood. The main character, drengen (the boy) Peter, hears his bedstemor (grandmother) telling a story about Julemanden (Santa Claus):
Et dejligt juletræ han bær’,
det største vist i skoven.
Hans skæg når lige til hans knæer;
og på hans hat for oven
et lille julelys der står;
det stråler, og det skinner
på næsen og det hvide hår
og på hans røde kinder.
Og gade op og gade ned
sit træ han om vil bære;
hvor alle bo, bestemt han ved,
derpå kan vis man være
A lovely Christmas tree he carries,
the biggest, apparently, in the forest.
His beard reaches him to his knees;
and on top of his hat
a little Christmas candle is standing;
it’s sparkling, and it’s shining
on his nose and his white hair
and on his red cheeks.
And up and down the streets
he’ll carry his tree around;
where everybody lives, he knows precisely,
thereof you can be certain.
Ved husets Dør han stille står
og lytter meget længe;
han vide må, før ind han går,
om der er slemme drenge.
Og hører han, at far er vred,
imens han træet tænder,
han rokker straks ad trappen ned
og ud på gaden render.
By the door of the house he stands silently
and listens for a long time;
he has to know, before he enters,
if there are norty boys.
And if he hears that Dad is mad
while lighting [the candles] of the tree,
he immediately wobbles down the stairs
and hurries onto the street.
Men, hører han, at far og mor
er glad for deres drenge,
imens de pynte julebord
og lys i træet hænge,
da ler den gamle Julefar
og ind i stuen smutter.
Sit lys fra hatten ned han ta’er,
det funkler, og det futter;
med det han hen til træet går
og nikker i det samme,
straks fra hvert lille Lys der står
en klar og dejlig flamme.
But if he hears that Dad and Mum
are fond of their boys,
while decorating their Christmas table
and hanging candles in their tree,
then old Father Christmas laughs
and slips into the living room.
His candle he takes down from his hat,
it sparkles and it burns;
with it he walks to the tree
and nods in the same moment,
immediately from each candle springs
a bright and lovely flame.
We follow little Peter and his family from the Christmas preparations until after New Year. From the hushed voices in the corridors and quickly hidden Christmas ornaments, to the baking of cookies and ordering of candles, red ribbons and prunes. From the goose to the cakes and the making of presents.
The book opens with these famous phrases:
I am so happy at this time. Now yuletide snow is falling white. And so Christmas is on its way.
Then comes Christmas Eve!
This night we hardly slept for joy and the day has been so long.
In the afternoon Granny tells the impatient children a Christmas tale about Old (Father) Christmas who will visit every family. Where the children have behaved the true Christmas atmosphere will warm up everyone. Where they have misbehaved he will leave quickly, the candles in the tree will not burn well and Christmas spirit will never shine in that home.
And then finally – the tree! Decorated with sugar figurines, figs, apples, chocolate frogs, candy pigs, and, and, and...
Then they sing and all is wonderful.
After Christmas Eve the children play with their presents and get visited by the poor Rasmus who gets presents too and baked apples.
On the 6th of January Christmas ends. This is where some mother’s always cries a bit when she reads it aloud.
And Christmas ended – The children found their books again and went happy to school. There they didn’t think about Christmas but when they returned home they played with their presents.
And even worse the last sentence regarding the Christmas tree when it is thrown out:
It was dead for sure, but even then it was as if an old friend left them for the last time.
The book has been illustrated various times. The first edition carried Pietro Krohn’s illustrations that I think are the most authentic – Most know them in a beautifully coloured version.
The link leads to a Movie made based on Peter’s Jul, for a Hyggelig evening may we suggest snuggling up with popcorn and a hot beverage of choice and enjoying this holiday classic
In 1942 the book was re-illustrated with entirely different pictures by Herluf Jensenius which some generations prefer. They perhaps carry more artistic value, but still the old ones stay the favourite.
A new edition came a couple of years ago, but those illustrations were definitely too sweet.
Peter’s Christmas gives a romantic and ideal image of old Danish Yule, but after all it is not that far from the Danes own Christmas and it is wonderful to read aloud.
These are lovely if well executed, so a deep-fry thermometer is vital. They are small and delightfully crunchy.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 18th 2020
If you're Danish you have most likely heard of Georg Jensen, his Christmas ornaments and brand have become synonyms with Christmas. His style being elegant and simple is still part of the company's branding.
Georg Jensen (born August 31, 1866, Raadvad, Denmark — died October 2, 1935, Copenhagen) Danish silversmith and designer who achieved international prominence for his commercial application of modern metal design. The simple elegance of his works and their emphasis on fine craftsmanship, hallmarks of Jensen’s products, are recognized around the world.
Jensen was apprenticed to a goldsmith at age 14. His artistic talents were briefly focused on sculpture, but he returned to metalwork, primarily jewelry and silver pieces, produced in the workshop he opened in Copenhagen in 1904. Jensen exhibited his works at several major foreign exhibitions (winning a gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition of 1910) and quickly built a reputation as an outstanding and highly original silversmith. He moved to a larger workshop in 1912 and acquired his first factory building in 1919.
Jensen’s silverware achieved immediate popularity and commercial success. He was, in fact, the first silvermaker to realize a profit from the manufacture of modern silver. Until Jensen’s time virtually all successful silverware producers had relied on a standard repertory of popular traditional designs. Jensen, however, found that the market for his sleek, simple pieces was larger than anyone had predicted. His firm grew rapidly, expanding throughout Europe and opening branches in London and New York City. On both continents Jensen’s work set trends for contemporary tableware. He was among the first designers to fashion steel—formerly considered fit only for low-quality, inexpensive flatware—into handsome, serviceable cutlery.
By 1935, the firm had branches all over the world and carried more than 3,000 patterns in open stock. Out of fairness to his customers, Jensen refused to discontinue old patterns, a practice common among manufacturers of fine silver and tableware. After his death the business was carried on by his son, Søren Georg Jensen. In 1973 the company became part of the Royal Scandinavia Group.
This Salad was served at the museum as one of our special JUL Suppers.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 17th 2020
The Danish star, is honestly one of my favorite ornaments they are beautiful and delicate, for myself the meditative state that you achieve in the action of creating them is balancing. You have to focus on what you are doing, each fold needs to be exact, or the star will show you, how present you are. I have messed up many a star learning how to create them. I found it fascinating that these were taught to children in kindergarten. Even more fascinating is the philosophy behind it.
"Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul." Friedrich Frobel - 1840
This year we all could use a healthy dose of Frobel's Kindergarten philosophy especially at Christmas time.
A Froebel star (German: Fröbelstern) is a Christmas decoration made of paper, common in Germany. In English it does not have a commonly recognized name; it can be referred to as Advent star, Danish star, German star, Nordic star, Pennsylvanian star, Polish star, Swedish star, Christmas star, or Froebel star. It is also sometimes called a Moravian star, though the Moravian star is a general category of geometrical shapes and the sixteen tipped piece of origami is specifically called the Froebel star.
The Froebel star carries the name of the German educationist Friedrich Fröbel (1782–1852), founder of the Kindergarten concept. He encouraged the use of paper folding in pre–primary education with the aim of conveying simple mathematical concepts to children. It is, however, likely that Froebel did not invent this item and that it had already been within the realm of general knowledge for a long time. Froebel did encourage paper folding as an activity for young children and he popularized discourse about children's activities, which is how his name and the folding instructions might have become related.
Descriptions of how to fold a Froebel star date back to at least the 19th century. In Germany the name Fröbelstern has been the common name for this paper decoration since the 1960's. It is used as an ornament on Christmas trees and wreaths, and to make garlands and mobiles. Froebel stars are very common in Denmark, although few people know how to make them.
This is one of the best YouTube video's I have found on how to make the Danish Star.
Flodeboller are classic Danish treats, they are commonly served for all kinds of holidays, gatherings, and birthdays. I remember the first time I had seen them, and tried them with our beloved Bestemor. I will tell you, I love everything marshmallow, but these, well they are more than a common marshmallow treat!! That soft fluffy filling is so much better than my chewy sugary marshmallow rival (of which I still love) given the choice I will always choose Flodeboller.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 16, 2020
We're nine days till Christmas Eve, and the holiday spirt is something we all create. To create memories and share traditions and make connections to our past. Like one of my favorite Danish quotes says, "Life can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard
If You count today there are 10 days till the 25th, I'm curious if our Nisse want there porridge on the 24th or 25th - hmmmmm.......... this is something we have to get right. A unhappy Nisse is a mischievous Nisse.
A wonderful tradition about the Danish woven heart has an interesting story.
The decorated Christmas tree comes, as far as we know today, from Southwest Germany or Switzerland, and the tradition goes back to around 1500.
From here the trees started to appear in private homes, and we have written evidence from a manuscript dated 1604 telling about a decorated tree in a home in Strasbourg. This tree was decorated with apples, cookies, gold and, what is more interesting in this context, with gaily colored paper cut-outs.
The art of paper cutting was already popular in Europe when the idea of the
decorated Christmas tree came about, and it is no wonder that people combined these two ideas. The woven paper heart is the most popular Christmas tree decoration in Denmark. Every child has made one or more, and it is part of the preparation for Christmas to gather around the big table and make some decorations for this year's tree. As far as we know this particular basket has its origin in Denmark, and the oldest known example is kept in the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, Denmark. It was made by the fairytale writer himself, in the 1860s, and given to a certain Mathilde 0rsted as a token of affection. It was made in green and yellow paper. The basket is hung on the tree and most often filled with sweets.
It is also part of this Danish Christmas tradition, that you are allowed to strip the tree on the third day of Christmas December 26th. In most families we have to refill the baskets before the stripping!
I want to thank everyone who has been encouraging me along the way to continue. I can honestly say at the beginning that I was thinking I'd made a terrible mistake in this undertaking, but thanks to all of our amazing members I have started looking forward to this everyday instead of immense fear.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar December 15, 2020
ORIGIN OF THE MARZIPAN PIG
As you know from the previous Advent how the pig has been an important animal for centuries, and its meat has been enjoyed from rich to poor in the society. The pig has had a central place at the Yule table (Old Norse: Jól) since the holiday was celebrated for the very first time, and because Christmas has its roots in Norse paganism, it is only natural that it has inherited some of the earlier traditions.
When an animal as the pig has such great importance to society, traditions, myths, and sagas, become a big part of the celebration of the pig. The significance of the pig can be traced back to the Viking age, were the people in Scandinavia would butcher a pig in the celebration of Yule.
In the old Norse sagas, there is a pig called Sæhrímnir who lives in the great halls of Valhalla (Pagans’ version of heaven). Sæhrímnir is a magical pig because the meat from this pig can feed the entire population of Valhalla. Every time the cook named Andhrímnir slices a piece from its meat, it grows back instantly.
WHAT IS A MARZIPAN PIG?
The marzipan pig is a very old traditional Northern confectionery, which has made during the Christmas month for more than a century. In Scandinavia, it is a tradition to use the marzipan pig, as an almond present for the dish risalamande during Christmas Eve. In Germany, the marzipan is given at New Year’s to symbolize good luck for the coming year, a good luck pig (In German: Glücksschwein).
WHEN WAS MARZIPAN INVENTED?
Marzipan was allegedly invented in the Persian Empire during the 6th century. The knowledge of the marzipan would spread from Persia to the Byzantine empire. During the Crusade of the Holy land in the 12th century, the Europeans learned about the marzipan and brought the knowledge back with them.
However, the origin of marzipan is highly debated, and there are multiple opinions on how and where it was invented. In Spain, a lot of people is of the opinion, that marzipan was invented in the 11th century in the city of Toledo. When there was a famine in the town, and one of the nuns came up with the idea to bake a loaf of bread from an almond paste with sugar.
In Italy, it is believed that marzipan was invented by accident during medieval times in the city of Venice. When a baker’s daughter had by a mistake chopped too many almonds and mixed it with sugar and water.
The Germans also have their own story on how marzipan was invented. In Germany, it is firmly believed that it was a German chef named Frantz Marcip, that had invented marzipan during the 17th century for a party.
WHY IS IT CALLED MARZIPAN?
It is strange that so many languages in Europe almost have the same name for marzipan, as the shortlist below shows.
However, there could be a simple reason for this, and the word marzipan could originate from how it was packaged during the middle ages. Allegedly the marzipan was sold in small packages, decorated with a small image from either a coin from the Byzantine Empire or a coin from the Republic of Venice.
Allegedly the price for one of these boxes with marzipan was one mautheban, which was one of the coins from the Republic of Venice with an image of Christ sitting on a throne. So, the name marzipan might originate from the price, and the packaging, from when it was sold in the beginning.
INGREDIENTS IN MARZIPAN
There are typically three main ingredients in marzipan, sugar, almonds, and a little rose water. The distinctive taste that makes the marzipan taste so good, comes mainly from the bitter almonds. Every marzipan bar normally contains about 4-6% bitter almonds. When you want to make a marzipan pig, you can choose among the two different types of marzipan, pure marzipan, or marzipan for baking. Most people use pure marzipan because it is not necessary to do any baking to make the marzipan pig.
MARZIPAN CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU
While marzipan contains a lot of sugar, it is actually good for you in small doses if you have constipation. Before the overseas trade with both America and the East Indies began to take off, marzipan was sold at the pharmacy, along with wine, liquor, spices, and confectionery. However, marzipan was expensive, and it was only the upper-class that could afford to purchase it.
MARZIPAN CANDY IS POPULAR DURING CHRISTMAS
It was in the first half of the 19th century, that marzipan for Christmas (in Danish: Jul) began to become indispensable for the upper-class in the Northern European society. People would either purchase figures made from marzipan and hang them on the Christmas tree (In Danish: Juletræet) or make the marzipan figures themselves. The marzipan figures, such as the marzipan pig, would hang on the tree during the month of December, and then be eaten at Christmas Eve.
THE MARZIPAN PIG IS USED AS A PRESENT
In Denmark, it is a tradition to eat rice porridge with almonds called risalamande each year at Christmas Eve. In the pudding , there is a hidden almond, and whoever finds this almond will get a marzipan pig as a present.
THE BEST MARZIPAN TO MAKE FIGURES
Before we can begin making a marzipan pig, we obviously need some marzipan. We can either make the marzipan ourselves or choose the easy solution and purchase some ready-made marzipan. There are many different brands to pick from, and you can just get your favorite one.
Personally, I have tried a bunch of different ones, on my hunt to find the best marzipan, and my journey led me to try some of the worst marzipans that had a weird chemical aftertaste.
I always fell back to the same brand "Odense Marcipan” which has some of the best marzipans, at least in my eyes. Or, I make my own the homemade one tastes fabulous and is quite simple. You can purchase one or more packs or you can make your own recipe is attached below, so you can get started on making your own marzipan pig for Christmas.
There are two ways to make the marzipan pig, you can choose to form one with your hands, or you can use a marzipan pig mold, or you can buy one.
HOW TO MAKE A MARZIPAN PIG
Marzipan is used to decorate cakes, make candies, and as an ingredient in some dessert recipes. Good quality marzipan is expensive and somewhat hard to find... unless you make your own. With less than 10 minutes of active work, homemade marzipan is simple and delicious.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar December 14th 2020
How Did Christmas Trees Start?
The evergreen trees of the Scandinavian forests were a potent symbol of life for the Vikings. When all other trees and other plant life were apparently dead in midwinter, the
evergreen tree still looked healthy and green.
To the Vikings it represented the promise of life that even during winter at the death of the year there was still a seed of life to begin the new cycle.
As the evergreen trees were so revered, at Yule they would be decorated with small carvings and gifts for the spirits of the trees and plants to encourage them to come back soon and start the new spring.
Decorating evergreen trees did not stop with the Vikings though, through their Germanic descendants it spread to England and America and to the rest of the world. Decorating a Christmas tree is a Viking ritual that is performed worldwide every year!
In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god, and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong, and summer would return.
Decorating evergreen trees did not stop with the Vikings though, through their Germanic descendants it spread to England and America and to the rest of the world. Decorating a Christmas tree is a Viking ritual that is performed worldwide every year.
The Christmas tree came along, decorated with paper decorations, fruit, sweets, candles, and small Danish flags. The whole concept of Christmas trees was imported from Germany. Also, Christmas gifts became common along with Christmas cards and the Christmas "nisse," a small Danish mythical creature that you want to stay best friends with, since he can control your fortune. Hence the tradition of putting porridge out for the nisse on Christmas Eve. The nisse was usually a small, old man with a white beard, dressed in a grey sweater, grey trousers, a red pixie cap, red stockings, and wooden shoes. He was believed to live hundreds of years. As Christmas today is a family time, also the nisse has a family now.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Santa Claus and the stories surrounding him came to Denmark from the USA. From Great Britain came the mistletoe and holly. After the Second World War the Christmas Calendar, the wreath of Advent and the Lucia parade was introduced, and Christmas as it is known today took shape.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar December 13th 2020
These are some of the legends associated with St. Lucia.
On December 13th they celebrate Saint Lucia’s Day, a day of great celebrating and merriment, Lucia is the saint of light. The Story of Saint Lucia stretches back in time some believe to the 18th century others to the times of the Vikings and the Roman Empire. According to legend, Lucia was a brave young woman from the island of Sicily. When Lucia heard about the persecution of Christians by the Emperor, she gave one Christian family her entire dowry. Legend has it that Lucia, to keep her hands free, wore a wreath with candles on her head so that she could (illegally) feed the poor Christians hiding in the catacombs of ancient Rome. This so angered her betrothed husband, that he told authorities that Lucia secretly practiced Christianity. Lucia, who died a martyr’s death, was much admired for her courage, generosity, and faith.
Viking sailors heard of the story of a young girl living in Italy, who had died for her Christian beliefs. The Vikings, who later became Christians, were so moved by Lucia’s story that they brought it home with them to Scandinavia. The Vikings imagined Lucia to be a shining figure, surrounded by light. This tale was favored by northern people, since the days were short during the winter, making daylight a precious commodity. It was also helpful that Saint Lucia’s day, December 13, marked the beginning of the Winter Solstice, in Swedish folklore. Also, according to folklore, unmarried girls believed that Saint Lucia would tell them who their future husband would be, on her saint day.
Celebrating Saint Lucia Today
On this day (Saint Lucia’s Day) the Lucia procession takes place in most schools, businesses, and homes. Children from various school choirs are dressed in white each carrying a candle, one child is chosen to be the “Lucia” bride and she is dressed in white robes and red ribbons and wears a crown of candles on her head leading the procession. The lights are turned off and the procession walks the corridors singing the Lucia song. In Families the eldest daughter plays Lucia and greets her family with a breakfast of hot coffee and pastries, known as Lucia Buns. This ritual honors the legend of Saint Lucia bringing food during a famine.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar December 12th 2020
Mistletoe makes its annual appearance each December as millions of people hang a sprig of it in their doorways during the holiday season. According to custom, if you are caught standing under the mistletoe, you may get a kiss.
So, what is it about this little plant that gives it its power to make people pucker up?
For centuries, mistletoe has been considered a plant that increases life and fertility. Celtic Druids living in the 1st century A.D. viewed it as a symbol of vivacity, since it remained green while other plants were bare during winter.
Some historians believe the connection between mistletoe and a kiss comes from ancient Norse mythology. According to happier versions of the legend, Baldur (sometimes spelled Baldr or Balder) was killed by an enemy's arrow made of mistletoe. His mother, the goddess Frigg, wept tears onto the arrow. Her tears turned into white berries that she placed onto Baldur's wound, bringing him back to life. Overjoyed, Frigg blessed the mistletoe plant and promised a kiss to all who passed beneath it.
Although the legend of Baldur is often cited as the origin of the connection between mistletoe and a kiss, other historians point out that many versions of Baldur's story end quite differently. In these other versions, Baldur dies and is not revived. Given the age of these myths, it is certainly possible that happier versions were passed down over time, influencing future mistletoe traditions.
Mistletoe traditions have certainly evolved over time. For example, in ancient times, visitors would kiss the hand of a host under the mistletoe when they arrived. Since then, traditions have grown a bit more personal. Today, any couple caught standing underneath the mistletoe should prepare to pucker up as its considered bad luck to refuse the kiss.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 11th 2020
Yule had a strong connection to Odin for the Vikings. During this time of year, you could watch the God of Gods fly through the night sky, paying visits to people in their homes. Often depicted as old, wise, and fatherly, Odin would fly across the sky on Sleipner, his eight-legged horse (Eight reindeer anyone? Sorry Rudolph - you were a couple centuries later, but we still love you!). Sound familiar? Many people think that Odin is, in fact, the original Santa Claus. The Dutch later took on the Norse tradition and made him into Santa Claus, or Sinterklaas, as they call him. It was Saint Nicholas, however (who is entirely unrelated to Norse mythology), that perfected Santa Claus into what he is today - the giver of gifts for the good. So, is it fate and destiny that perhaps the stories of Vikings could have created both an iconic person in Santa Claus and a delicious pastry called Kringle, that just happens to show up in his name? We are not sure, but this bit of trivia will probably earn you some points in your families get togethers!!
With the weather turning colder and the holidays just around the corner, we hope that everyone will love learning and looking at Danish and Viking heritage for the Christmas traditions with there families that many have loved for generations, and we know that many of our members have and enjoy the same traditions. They tell us about their families who came from Denmark and how they long for the same Danish pastries that their parents and grandparents used to make. Or, they say that they used to live in the Denmark or family that used to live in Denmark and want to reconnect with their roots, and our museum and saga cafe gives them that opportunity.
We have many different members and guests with wide variety of preferences, but two things are certain: first of all, we always strive to bring a taste of hygge for guests and members throughout the country, and second, that everyone of us has a fondness for their Christmas traditions. At the museum, we love them too - especially how they remind us of our family and the many years that we all gathered to celebrate the holidays.
Another extremely popular Danish Christmas dessert is the Kringle, our best-loved bakery item I'd say it ties with Wienerbrod. When it comes to Danish sweets, nothing is better loved than the Kringle. As the Vikings explored distant lands, they discovered many gorgeous cities, but like many of us have learned, they found out there is nothing like home at Christmas. We have created a special Kringle flavors in honor of a classic Danish tradition -
The difference between Wienerbrod and Kringle is the manner in which the butter is added. Now in Wienerbrod it is laminated between the dough layers, in Kringle the dough itself is a mix of puff pastry and pie crust, in the layering and yeast is like wienerbrod the butter is mixed into the dough at the very beginning of the process. Saying this DO NOT over handle the Kringle dough! Less is more to create the flaky crispy delicate cake.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar December 10th 2020
Yule Log Traditions
The yule log placed on the fire on the Vigil of the Nativity no longer forms an important part of Christmas. Yet within the memory of many the yule log traditions was a very essential element in the celebration of the festival, not merely as giving out welcome warmth in the midwinter cold, but as possibly something more. Viking, Jul celebrations included a symbolic fire, which involved the burning of large logs on the central hearth of the longhouse. The logs would have runes caved into them, for protection and symbolized the continuation of light despite the darkness outside, as well as providing warmth. In the shadowy light of the longhouse and the Yule log, one could often find an evergreen tree, decorated with statues of the gods, runes, pieces of food or bright clothing.
In West Jutland (Denmark) two great tallow candles stood on the festive board. No one dared to touch or extinguish them, and if by any mischance one went out it was a portent of death. They stood for the husband and wife, and that one of the wedded pair whose candle burnt the longer would outlive the other. The remains of the candle were used in various ways to benefit man and beast. Sometimes a cross was branded on them and used on the animals. In Denmark, the ends were preserved and in bad weather used to protect the house from lightning.
Today you see many different forms of Yule logs from center pieces to tasty pastry’s all with one important connection, the warmth of the fire to light up the dark, to protect from the cold.
The Yule Log pastry, often decorated with nuts, cream, or cheese (or all three) is also a symbol of the Yule fire, which before burning was inscribed with runes, and decorated with sprigs of other trees – particularly holly, which stayed green all year – another reminder of the coming of the light.
Yule log Canadian Style
This pudding is heavenly, it takes a bit of work but its worth it. To any of you who attended our Jul Nats meals this was one of our desserts. Please do read through the instructions carefully first before you start. I love this type of dessert where you make the cake a day a head of time. Decorate with ganache on the day of serving.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar December 9, 2020
Other aspects of Christmas were also influenced by Viking tradition. The Yule log, for example, now a popular foodstuff, was originally a special log of fir, or yew, which was carved with runes to protect the household from misfortune.
Now HAM (or more accurately wild boar) was the meal of choice, and the celebrations often revolved around great feasting, even greater drinking, and song.
Next to an irresistible Danish Christmas dessert, there are few things we love as much as a good Christmas ham. For the Vikings, the brave souls who gave their lives heroically in battle were destined only for more strife in the afterlife. Each day, they would wake only to fight yet another battle against the giants who threatened the peace in Valhalla. Anyone who did not make it through the battle, was fortunately resurrected, because even the Vikings knew you do not miss dinner with the family. Each night, they would hold a large feast attended by both Odin and Thor. The main dish was, naturally, the ham.
Every evening, the story goes, a wild boar known as Sæhrimner would be served, and there was always enough to go around, no matter how many warriors there were seated at the table. Furthermore, each day before the feast, Sæhrimner was resurrected to act as the centerpiece of the feast yet again - just like the savory hams on our family Christmas tables.
So it is only natural that the Crackling pork or a ham is a must at the Christmas meal.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent Calendar - December 8th 2020
As most everyone is aware, the original Vikings were pagans. Over time however, what most don’t talk about is Vikings never died they are still very much alive, their descendants are all over the globe. What happened to them? They adopted the Christian faith. They accepted Christianity as their religion of choice, they adapted many aspects of their earlier festivals and celebrations to fit in with their new faith. This was not a new tactic, as early Christians often worked celebrations around earlier pagan festivals, particularly the Roman Saturnalia, a solstice festival which occurred on December 25th.
The Norse themselves also celebrated the solstice around this period with what they called the Yule festival, and many of those traditional practices were adopted and have made their way into our modern Christmas.
The Yule goat’s origin is lost in the mists of time, though it likely dates back at least one thousand years ago, when it was associated with the he-goats Tanngrisnir (Gap-tooth) and Tanngnjostr (tooth-grinder), who pulled Thor’s Chariot and provided food for the god and his friends.
To celebrate this legend, people would dress in goat skins and travel from house to house, performing songs, playing pranks, telling jokes, or such in exchange for food, drink, or gifts.
These traditions have carried over in today's Santa Claus and his sleigh, gift giving and carolling (or wassailing).
Not all Norse Christmas traditions associated with the ‘Yule goat' have survived into the modern festivities, however. One particularly strange custom which has disappeared is what was known as ‘mumming.’ During the mumming period, which lasted from Christmas Eve until the 12th night, young Norse boys would dress in scary masks and costumes, go out at night, and travel the streets terrifying all whom they crossed. Often, the participants would mimic trolls, ghosts and other mythical creatures. One such occasion was described in 16th century, where a young boy dressed as the Yule goat, complete with ghastly facemask with fully functioning jaw, running through the streets and entering homes, demanding food and gifts for his leaving.
In time the role of the holiday gift giving passed to our Nisse, goat riding elves, who delivered gifts to sleeping children like Santa does today. Our Nisse are still very much alive and well in Danish traditions. It seems the rest of the world is adopting a version of them in there “Elf on the Shelf”. But those stories are for another day.
Cured Salmon is a big part of Danish food culture, we have used it in many ways at the museum. Most people do not know just how easy it is to do. This recipe is a favorite, the beet gives it a beautiful color and a sweet earthy taste. It is lovely for brunches or smorrebrod, salads, and of course appetizers. We use roughly 12 different cures of Salmon at the museum including a Akvavit cure. If there is ever any remaining the salmon freezes very well.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent - December 7th 2020
Viking Christmas traditions that you might never have known:
While most people are aware that the Christian’s celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, the Pagans celebrate the Solstice the returning of the sun festival which occurred on December 25th. The Norse themselves also celebrated the solstice around this period with what they called the Yule festival, and many of those traditional practices were adopted and made their way into our modern Christmas.
The Christmas tree, wreaths, and mistletoe, all have their roots in Germanic and Norse traditions. Evergreen trees were often decorated, usually with food and statues of the gods, to try and entice the tree spirits of the forests to return from the dead and bring about spring.
Mistletoe also had mythical importance. Norse legend told of how the god of light, Balder, was slain by an arrow of mistletoe, but was resurrected when his mother’s tears turned the berries of the plant white. Thus, it represented resurrection and hope for the end of winter.
The Christmas wreath similarly sought to entice the end of winter, though in contrast to our practice of simply hanging it on a door, the Vikings would set alight and roll it down a hill to tempt the return of the sun.
Perhaps most striking of the Viking traditions which has made it into our Christmas is the person of Father Christmas and his Reindeer. During the Yule celebrations someone would be selected to be dressed up as old man winter a white-bearded man to dressed in a hooded fur coat, thought to represent Odin.
This individual would travel around the community, joining in with the various celebrations, this figure, when introduced into England, soon became the modern Father Christmas.
Santa and his reindeer find their roots in the Norse Yule Goat. According to legend, Thor, the god of Thunder, rode through the sky in his chariot, pulled by 2 goats.
We have so many favourite traditions and customs to thank our Viking ancestors for.
What are Brunkager?
Brunkage translates to brown cookies, which by the color that's a very suiting name. This recipe has been adapted from the original ones I've seen to make these a little healthier. I enjoyed a version of these just yesterday with friends while they decorated their tree, a Danish family tradition of theirs that I truly enjoyed. Theses crispy cookies I would enjoy year round.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent December 6th 2020
Today is the second Sunday in Advent already! What does that mean?? Well On the last Sunday of November or the First Sunday in December, Danes go crazy with spruce twigs, candles, cones, berries, and ribbons. Families would normally be gathering to make Advent wreaths, bake cookies and hygge. Originally advent marks a peaceful time of preparation for the birth of Christ. Today for most Danes advent marks the time to start singing “All I want for Christmas is you”. Christian or not lighting candles is always meditative. Traditionally, once the wreath has been decorated, Danes light one candle every Sunday that leads up to Christmas. The Candles on the wreath were to recognize Christs four virtues. Candles on the advent wreath symbolize, hope, love, joy, and peace, as the candles are lit in order, beginning today (or you could have started last Sunday). Some will use a 5th candle in the centre to represent Christ himself that is lit on Christmas Day to remind Christians of the light Jesus brings to the world. The Advent candles have different meanings in different groups, but the main idea behind the candles is the progression, sense of expectation, anticipation of increased light. Light itself at Christmas does start to increase as the earth's natural rotation our sunlight is starting to increase, for some this is also a huge part of Christmas, the beginning of the light returning in more ways than one. Solstice is when the sun starts coming back. Whatever your belief there is something deeply resounding and enlightening about the sun increasing, and the connection of Christs light coming to earth. For myself, I believe that this may have something to do with peace on earth. The balance and harmony of all, there is a feeling of balance on earth as the sun returns, we are no longer moving away from, but towards light, the earth has made it for another season.
On Day 2 of Advent I gave our Sourdough rye bread recipe, that takes a serious commitment, If you do not have the time, this is another staple in our kitchen and is still delicious! This is made daily in our Saga Café and served with almost everything. Our Sourdough recipe is used in some of the Smorrebord, this recipe is a staple and reliable.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent - December 5th
Inside a Danish Bakery or Konditor the array of baked goods is astonishing. Influenced by 18th century French, German and Austrian traditions, Danish pastry chefs created their own vast repertoire of baked goods, still beloved by contemporary Danes, including buttery little cakes, tartlets with jam, marzipan or custard fillings, puff pastries with chocolate and vanilla icing, and dozens of chocolate or almond flavored biscuits. These tartlets are miniature Danish versions of a Mazarin cake: a crisp pastry shell with an Almond paste filling. Truly a favorite in the museum.
When is it ok to start singing Christmas carols and wearing your favorite Christmas attire, or decorating your home? These questions come out every year some keep their tree up year-round and change the decorations with the seasons. For a few Danes it can start with the first Friday of November, when Christmas beer (julebryg) officially hits the liquor stores (bodegas). The majority impatiently wait until it's socially accepted to show Christmas excitement and that is around the Advent. For anyone who loves Christmas the question of when is too early at some point will cross your mind. If you never feel it is too early, well ENJOY the spirit! For everyone else, embrace the Danish belief that the last Sunday of November is the best day to start. However, you choose to celebrate Christmas in your homes - I encourage you to truly celebrate it! Slow down appreciate the simplicity of Christmas, it does not have to be crazy busy and you do not have to spend a million dollars to make the Christmas memories. My all-time favorite Christmas memory was the year my parents got us a monopoly game, we all shared it, my four siblings and me. We played Monopoly everyday for the full Christmas break. It stayed out on the coffee table for weeks, all of us, mom, dad and all of us kids played. Snuggled up in our living room with the fire going dads’ furs, violins, banjos, and guitars hanging on the walls, with the cold outside and the warmth inside - the safest simplest feeling in the world. To this day, every time I see or hear anything about a monopoly game, I am transported back to that Christmas. It was the most hyggelig feeling.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent calendar December 4th 2020
What makes Advent so important? Well if you are a Dane it could have something to do with hygge. Which basically means celebrating the small things in life. Whether or not your religious, Christmas time in Denmark or anywhere else is the best time to embrace hygge.
It is the perfect season for snuggling up by the fireplace, wrapped in a warm blanket, woolen blanket, while getting ready to read great book, with a cup of mulled wine (glogg) or a warm beverage. Wool socks, good books, are always appreciated in most homes no matter the season, during December though even the tiniest details get a tad cozier. Could it be that Advent became so welcomed and loved by every Dane because the act of appreciation is so enhanced at Christmas time? In my years of researching the feeling of hygge it has personally come down to the fine art of appreciating the little things. Appreciation is a form of celebration. Celebration is what Christmas is all about. Advent gives us a beginning date to celebrate the wonder openly, mutually of the tiniest details that truly make life special.
Danish Baking is legendary around the world. Blessed with fine ingredients- butter, eggs, flour – from the country’s farms. Danish pastry chefs and home cooks are renowned for creating artistically shaped and richly flavored biscuits. These rich, buttery rings are a special favorite at Christmas.
Vanillekranse are a Christmas staple, these lovely cookies are sold world wide, Danish butter cookies are a favorite for many. They are also very simple to make, if you have the time and energy, these cookies are a fantastic recipe to start with! They also freeze incredibly well, you can keep them in your freezer and pull out when you have company or just need a treat through the holidays.
Danish Canadian Museum Advent December 3rd 2020
As the years went by the Advent calendars have evolved. Advent Calendars were no longer just for children, adults loved them too. There are many types of Advent calendars, some people give beer, wine, Legos, teas, coffees well you get the point the options are endless. Some families only give Advent gifts on the Sundays, so instead of many small gifts, they give 4 big presents, one each Sunday during the month of Advent. During the 1960's Advents changed to small gifts for 20 of the days a bigger gift on the Sundays like the chocolate Advent calendars today, there are 4 bigger windows with a larger gift or candy on the Sundays and 20 smaller ones in the rest of the calendar.
Another favorite tradition is the Advent candle. There is something about the simplicity of the candle burning, that heightens the appreciation as it moves in small increments every day the anticipation of Christmas slowly growing everyday. Families intentionally slowing down and acknowledging something special is happening all around. The hypnotic glow of the flickering flame, that small flames holds the ability to warm up a room if only for that short period of time. Letting it burn only so long every day not too much but just enough time and space to reflect on the coming of Christmas.
Danish pastries are not truly Danish, these famous sticky delicious delights were first made in Denmark in the 1840’s by Austrian bakers. These lovely treats rose in popularities over the last hundred or so years and are now a firm favorite of ordinary Danes. There are many different types of this favorite pastry throughout all of Denmark. The favorite at the museum would have to be the Almond. Wienerbrod is not easy undertaking but if you do take the time to make it properly it is so very worth the time and effort. I've had Danes tell me that it is the food of the Gods.
Buttery, Flaky Danish pastry is unrivalled in the baking universe, and a classic puff pastry is KEY!! Use the highest quality butter you can find, and keep the pastry as cold as you can while you are making it.
Danish Canadian Advent Calendar 2020 - December 2nd 2020
Advent Calendars in Denmark changed after the second world war, Advent calendars with small gift wrapped presents (in Danish Pakkekalender), slowly began to become the normal in Denmark. An Advent calendar with gifts would typically have 24 small gifts and one big gift on the 24th of December. The presents could contain small packs of Lego or Candy for the Children. Some Adults also make a Advent Calendar for their partners. There are so many ideas for the Advent Calendars and it extends the Christmas season, creating so much joy and fun with the first 24 days of December being Christmas everyday.
For myself having a GOOD bread makes all the difference in a meal, no matter if its a beautiful sandwich, hearty stew or a delicate salad. A good bread increases the level of appreciation, and increases the comfort of the meal. Filling you up in more ways than one.
Danish Canadian Advent Calendar 2020
This month is all about Danish traditions and a Hygge Christmas because I mean really who couldn't use a bit more Hygge in there life. The tradition of the Advent calendar there is no definite date only that it is very European. The credit of the first printed Advent goes Germany in 1903 the first printed by a man named Gerhard in his early 20's. It all stemmed from childhood memories of his family counting down to Christmas with 24 cookies that were sewn onto a lid and put into on to a piece of carton. He was aloud to eat one cookie a day until Christmas.
The First Danish Julealender (Advent Calendar) was in 1930. This particular year two Advent calendars were created and sold, one with no doors to open but a picture with verses there was tear-off blocks to count down to Christmas leaving the picture and verses. The other was more like what we all see today it had the 24 windows with little unique size openings and treats inside. These Advent calendars were pricey and not everyone could afford them. By the year 1932 people of Denmark had started making there own Advent calendars for gifts in all sorts of fashions.