Jul Aften, Christmas Eve, is the most important day during the season here. We began the day slowly, knowing it would be a long day filled with food and festivity. We arose late, had light meals, with Steen enjoying a Christmas beer with lunch.
We wrapped up the last of the gifts and got ourselves ready for the evening. Peter came over about 3 PM to drive us up to Århus, about 45 minutes away. With the car loaded with gifts we took off, choosing to drive a bit longer but staying off the highway. A much more preferable drive when it was still somewhat light enough to enjoy seeing the Danish countryside and then the Christmas lights. It gets dark here fairly early this time of year and when I took the train to and from Copenhagen it was too dark to enjoy the view.
Steen with his granddaughters
We arrived, laden with packages and were happily welcomed at the home of Anders and Charlotte, along with their two daughters, Patricia and Filippa. Anders is Steen’s younger son, my other Danish “brother”. They live in a beautiful home which was decorated for the holiday. It smelled wonderful as we entered and received hugs and greetings. We were handed mugs of mulled wine to enjoy while the dinner preparations were completed.
Charlotte and Filippa
We sat down to a beautifully decorated table to a delicious meal. They had so sweetly made special things for this old vegetarian, considering many types of meat are generally eaten at this meal. The dinner is followed by Risalamande with the person finding the whole almond receiving a special gift. Filippa took second and third helpings trying to find it! I got a special gift with a special helping – a book about the Danish concept of hygge. Should come in handy when I have visitors.
To further get in the spirit Anders changed clothes and appeared in a totally crazy Christmas suit he had bought on a trip to Chicago.
We then proceeded to sing Christmas carols, which was most amusing. I did my best to sing along, though not knowing the tunes and with the lyrics in Danish I didn’t belt anything out. The only song I recognized was Silent Night, but had never sung it in Danish.
And then the evenings highlight was the lighting of the Christmas tree candles and the gift giving. Danes do not have Santa Claus come on Christmas Eve, but instead have Jule nisser, Christmas elves, come with gifts.
After the fun of gift opening and sharing we finally gathered our things together and drove home, arriving shortly after midnight. A totally delightful, hyggelig and memorable Christmas. Just what I had hoped for this year.