The Way Danes Celebrate Christmas Differently
Hygge, first and foremost, is a concept that encompasses the feeling of cosy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. When most people measure contentment and well-being based on material possessions or financial success, Danes consider sitting in front of a fireplace whilst sipping a cup of hot chocolate as a luxury that bring them happiness. Given the modesty of the way they perceive happiness in life, it is not a surprise that Denmark is always listed as one of the happiest countries in the world. Even during Christmas, the Danes don’t go for an extravagant or lavish celebration. On the contrary, Danish people celebrate Christmas in a more humbling way—together with their families or significant others (although at some point it involves some booze!).
Want to find out how the Danes celebrate Christmas in a simple but meaningful way? Keep on reading!
The Danes celebrate Christmas from December 24th to 26th, but Julefrokost or Christmas Lunch can start from the first weekend in December all the way to January. Julefrokost is celebrated either with friends, colleagues or extended family. A Dane, for instance, can attend three to four Christmas Launch events depending on the size of her/his social circle. Danes are independent individuals—Christmas is the perfect moment to step out of this custom, where they get to spend quality time with others. There is no better way to enjoy togetherness than gathering for a feast with your loved ones, after all. Each person will bring his or her own food to share. For grown ups, Julefrokost includes lots of beers and snaps, Denmark's version of aquavit. If you have a Danish friend, it's important to note that refusing a Julefrokost invitation is considered impolite in Danish culture.
2. Walking Around The Christmas Tree
Danes can root their DNA back to the Germanic tribe who practiced paganism including treating trees as sacred objects. One school of taught even suggested that the tradition of decorating a pine tree comes from the old norse pagan tradition that survived Christianism. Although Danish people are now more liberal and less religious, walking around a Christmas tree is actually the peak of the Christmas celebration. Family members, from seniors to children, will clasp hands and create a barricade to circle a Christmas tree, which is decorated with burning candles! Then, all the family members will move slowly, back and forth, whilst singing Christmas carols or hymns. As Christmas has become a social tradition instead of religious expression circling a Christmas tree doesn’t interpret any religious meaning, but rather demonstrating the beauty of togetherness with relatives. Family is the nucleus of the Danish society but once they reach adulthood, independence begins. Christmas is the right time to catch up with loved ones they rarely see on a daily basis. Interested to celebrate your Christmas the Danish way?
3. Visit Christmas Markets
Another thing the Danes will do during hyggelig Christmas is enjoying an outdoor walk. It's freezing cold during December in Denmark. Instead of going to the mall, Danes will visit Christmas markets. They’ll walk in pairs and visit different stalls to treat themselves with sweets or warm cocktails. The joy of this outdoor activity doesn’t only come from savouring Christmas delights but also from enjoying the company of their significant other. It’s anything but crazy and lavish. It’s simple. But it’s fulfilling and most definitely hyggelig.
The 1 People’s Team