Merry Christmas 2014!

The day is finally here: it’s Christmas again! We have waited for weeks and weeks, brought ourselves in the mood with candles, cookies, Tivoli trips and hot alcoholic beverages. We have planned, conspired, ordered online, and shopped ’til we dropped, and we finally managed to get all the presents. Except that one thing we forgot, damn, we had been thinking about that all fall - meh, they’re getting that other thing now, so it’s okay. We wrapped, bound bows, wrote nametags, fought with stubborn wrapping paper, and finally managed to make those funky frills with the ribbon. In short: we are prepared!

As for me, you would be hard pressed to find a cuter little Christmas tree than the one we picked out this year! We always go for the small ones, because we don’t have the room for a large one, but we still want our own tree. There was hardly any room for ornaments, but we put up some of my favorites: the birds, and of course, my little “garder”!



Seriously, though, aren’t these the most adorable little dudes?!

For the rest of the decoration, I usually like to keep it simple. Two years ago, somehow this horrible little piece of kitsch got into our possession (okay, okay, we may have bought it, shame!) - it is a little city, covered in snow, and two batteries power some colorful lights that are meant to be festive, but really are just plain disco. So this year, I have sneakily omitted this particular item of decoration, and it has gone unnoticed thus far - success! I’m keeping it very simple and stick mostly to silver and white. Oh, and anything with antlers, of course.




This past Sunday, the 4th of advent, we had a family thing, where we - very much Danish - made our own “konfekt”. Konfekt are Christmas sweets, which can often contain marzipan, truffles, nougat, and of course massive amounts of chocolate. I had never tried to make them before, so I tried not to get in the way too much, but I am very proud to say that I did help decorate those pretty dark-and-white-chocolate ones in the last picture!

Later today, we’re heading out to my boyfriend’s family for the traditional Danish Christmas Eve, including flæskesteg, risalamande, and dancing around the Christmas tree. And if we wake up from the certain food coma on time, we’ll be attending “julefrokost” on Christmas Day, where we’ll be treated to the classic Danish cold lunch buffet - and tons of snaps, of course! And then, on the 26th, we’re heading on down to Germany to start all over!

I hope you have wonderful Christmas days with your family and friends, and share lots of great food, laughter, and memories! And I hope many of you actually get a white Christmas - aren’t those the best?!

PS: You can head on over to my Instagram to see more pictures of all the deliciousness that’s awaiting me.

The taste of Danish Christmas

Christmas is kind of a big deal in Denmark. In absence of Thanksgiving, there’s only one holiday, Mortens aften (St. Martin’s Day) on the 10th of November, between Halloween and Christmas. That effectively means that Christmas season begins in November, at the latest when the gates of Tivoli open again after Halloween. Christmas is season of hygge, making these long, dark, cold days ever so much more bearable and – dare I say it – actually enjoyable, not least because of a bunch of tasty seasonal delicacies.



The season’s favourite drink, this deliciousness will warm even the coldest heart. A sort of mulled wine seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, gløgg exists in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties. In Denmark, gløgg is usually served with raisings, chopped almonds, and orange slices. You can make gløgg from scratch (examples here and here), buy it by the bottle (Irma’s house brand is quite nice), or get different types of gløgg mix to prepare with red wine. There are also white wine varieties.



Æbleskiver, in a literal translation, means “apple slices”. This is odd, since they are completely spherical and do not contain apples! I’ve seen them described as the “Danish donut” or “Danish pancakes”, but none of those explanations really seem to hit the spot. They are, simply put, small, sweet balls of deliciousness, waiting to be dipped into strawberry jam and powdered sugar (which is the traditional way to eat them). I’ve never tried to make them, since you need a special pan and the flipping process seems quite challenging! But you can get them frozen, so you simply need to bake them in the oven for a couple of minutes. Addictive!



The classic. A Christmas Eve dinner without it is pretty much unthinkable in Denmark. Flæskesteg is pork roast, with a thick layer of crispy crackling that everybody likes to fight for (except me – not a fan!). It’s usually served with red cabbage (“rødkål”), brown sauce and caramelized potatoes, another Christmas favourite.
Another variant is the flæskestegsandwich, usually served in a big whole-wheat bun with red cabbage, pickles and a mustard sauce. You can get a recipe from Danish chef Claus Meyer here or get your sandwich at Bøfgrillen in the Tivoli gardens.

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Besides flæskesteg, many Danish families also serve duck on Christmas Eve (some do both - see picture above with two massive flæskesteg and a chopped-up duck in the background!). Usually, the duck is filled with dried plums and apples. Yum!

Ris à la mande

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Important note regarding rice pudding in Denmark: there is “risengrød”, the sort of standard rice pudding. This can be eaten all year round, and is served sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. And then there’s “ris à la mande” (sometimes spelled “risalamande”), which is that same rice pudding, but refined with whipped cream and chopped almonds, and served with cherry sauce. [Side note: don’t make the mistake of suggesting to serve cherry sauce with standard “risengrød”. My boyfriend shot me a stare that said “what is wrong with you?!” when I did, stupid little me.] Ris à la mande is always served from a big bowl, and there’s one whole almond hidden in it. Whoever finds it gets a little present (“mandelgave”, like I did last year). I’m also over the moon by this recipe for a ris à la mande cake!



Very popular all around Scandinavia, these little pieces of fried dough are commonly seen in Denmark around Christmas. They are similar to donuts in their style and taste, and are usually served with powdered sugar.


It’s no secret that Danes love beer. The Vikings from the land of Tuborg and Carlsberg are also really fond of their seasonal brews, like for Easter. But there’s a whole cult surrounding Tuborg’s Christmas beer (“julebryg”). It’s only on sale for about six weeks a year, and its release is celebrated on “J day”, the first Friday in November. Tuborg’s Christmas brew is by far the most popular, with its characteristic blue-and-white labels, but other brands have followed suit and today, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of julebrygs. Since I’m not a great beer fan, I cannot really recommend which one is best – so you’ll have to try them all and decide for yourself!

What’s your favorite Christmas food, either Danish or from your home country?

A Danish Christmas

For Christmas Eve, we joined the boyfriend’s family for a traditional Danish Christmas celebration. The day started around 1pm with going to church. The church is really cute, but tiny, so the Christmas service was completely overrun and we ended up sitting on the floor! But lots of singing and some jokes later (“One guy says to another, my wife is an angel! Says the other one, lucky you, mine is still alive!), we went back to have some glögg, cookies, chocolate treats and other sweet delicacies. Around 6pm, dinner was ready - a traditional Danish Christmas dinner, the kind where you find yourself wishing you had a second and third stomach so you would never have to stop eating! Then, we all gathered around the Christmas tree and danced around it singing Christmas songs - culminating in the polonaise-type activity where people hold each others hands or shoulders and run around the entire house (this includes a visit to every room, also running over furniture is totally okay) in a long line, singing the very upbeat “Nu er det jul igen” (now it’s Christmas again), ending around the tree again, all exhausted! Then it was finally time for presents, which especially the kids were thrilled about.

Here are some impressions from a beautiful day with lots of joy, love, and of course brilliant food and tons of presents!

Nisselandskab, a decorative landscape of Santa’s little elves

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Decorating the Christmas tree - of course the star needs to go on top!


Some of the beautiful ornaments on the tree

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This one is filled with snacks in case you get hungry while you’re dancing around the tree!


The decorated tree in its full glory, including some of the presents

Traditional Danish Christmas dinner, including duck and flæskesteg (pork roast with crispy skin on top that everybody fights about), red cabbage, caramellized potatoes and dark gravy - what a feast!

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And for dessert, there’s “ris à la mande“, a sweet rice pudding with whipped cream and chopped almonds, with a cherry sauce. In addition to the chopped almonds, there is always one whole almond hidden in the pudding, and whoever finds it, gets a small gift. Since our family Christmas had many kids around, the odds were raised by adding three almonds, and guess who found one? :)


After dinner, everybody was completely stuffed, so we took a little break on the couch while the kids found and distributed the presents from under the tree. I’ve rarely seen such a giving frenzy, we were unwrapping presents until midnight!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Eve and can enjoy another couple of festive days with your loved ones! Merry Christmas!