Despite the fact that I have spent the last couple of years in France during winter time, Denmark is the only place in the world I could imagine spending the Christmas holidays!
However, hardly any of my friends and colleges from France share my enthusiasm when I tell them about the unique Danish Christmas traditions, so in order to convince you, here are some of the Christmas traditions that I am sure would get you in the spirit!
Kalenderlys (Christmas candle)
In Denmark we love to celebrate Christmas, and it is not just the children – the adults love this time of the year just as much. The first thing that the Danes do in the beginning of December is to buy a Christmas candle, also called “Kalenderlys”.
This is a tall candle with the numbers from one to twenty-four written from top to bottom, each of which represents a day in the month of December.
Each day you burn down a number on the candle and thus the excitement towards Christmas eve increases every day. The candles may be found in many different colors and sizes.
Kalenderpakker (Christmas calendar)
Even though the winter can be extremely dark and cold in Denmark, it is not difficult to get the Danish children out of the bed in the morning during the month of December.
This is due to the fact that the Danish children get what we call “kalendergaver”: 24 small presents, one for each day.
Usually these little presents would consist of all small things such as a toy or a chocolate bar.
Julekalender (Christmas television)
Another thing which we use to count down the days until Christmas is what we call a “julekalender”. Contrary to what you might think, this is not an ordinary calendar, but a TV-show, consisting of –
yes, you guessed it: 24 episodes, starting on the 1st of December and ending on the 24th. Such series can be found for both children and adults, and every night they will be hypnotized by the screen and by the end of the series, a true Christmas miracle of some sort will come true.
Dans omkring juletræ (the dance around the Christmas tree)
The last Danish Christmas tradition I would like to tell you about is probably the most important one in Danish culture, but also the one that foreigners find most peculiar: dancing around the Christmas tree.
This tradition is not known in other parts of the world, but a unique Scandinavian ritual.
In most Danish homes people dance around the Christmas tree, hand in hand, while singing Christmas carols. It might be an exaggeration to call it a dance, since most families walk around the Christmas tree, trying their best to sing along while being careful not to bump into the lit candles on the Christmas tree and start a fire!
Are you also a Dane lost in Paris?
If you want to celebrate Christmas & the New year with people, check on our list of five ways to meet new people in Paris.
Are you a foreigner? Looking for a job in France? We offer English speaking jobs in Paris France such as babysitting jobs in Paris France, au pair jobs in Paris France and jobs for expats in Paris France more generally!