Christmas in Denmark
TW,(Who puts up the most beautiful Christmas trees I have ever seen - all hand-blown glass icicles and white light with space between all the branches. It's etherial!) asked about holiday traditions from my year in Denmark. I was living in the dormitory in the hojskole by the time Christmas rolled around, so there wasn't as much family tradition in evidence, but one thing I noticed was the prevalence of Advent calenders. Everyone had some kind of Advent calender - even the pagans. Counting down the twenty five days was a big, big deal. Some folks got a stack of little presents numbered for each day. And, with remarkable self-control, they opened only one a day. Some folks had the little cardboard calenders with a chocolate behind each door. One gal had a tiny hand-carved wooden creche and every day she added another character, starting with shepherd, then sheep, then cows, a donkey, a stable cat. On the twenty third she brought out an angel, on the twenty fourth she added Mary and Joseph, and on the 25th, the baby Jesus. Then she got out the three kings and began moving them from the farthest corner of the room until, by three kings day, they all arrived at the creche with presents. And she always saved three presents to open then.
Another thing - everyone grew roses that produce bright-colored rose hips, and in the winter, they would bring in a spray or two of these cheery notes of nature to make the house more cozy. They would hang glass ornaments in the windows to catch your gaze and keep it inside the warm house, rather than encouraging you to look out at the cold grey misery outside.
That winter, there was a fad for wearing bright,unmatched socks, and that's when I learned to knit socks - no two alike. I still have trouble with second sock syndrome.
Oh, the holiday baking! Ginger and marzipan and delicate fried dough baskets filled with rich, rich creams. And ableskivver. Yumm, I can eat a mess of ableskivver! They're like a tiny apple pancake cooked in a pan with walnut-sized pockets. You fry the dough in each pocket to golden crispness, drop in a chunk of apple, and deftly flip the confection with a long wooden skewer so the othe side fries just as crisp. Then you dump them into cinnamon sugar, and eat them warm - maybe with applesauce if you want. Gahh, my mouth waters so hard it hurts!
There was less hype about buying bigger and better presents for everyone, but then, that was 35 years ago, and TV was a lot less predominant in Europe. Heaven only knows what it's like now.
In the meantime, I'm getting some Christmas knitting done. This short scarf is done in silk and wool. It's soft and warm.