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Hearts are common on Danish Xmas trees
Our region is home to many Nordic expatriates and to the world’s first Danish Seamen’s Church. Find out how this community celebrate Christmas.
Pastor Steen Tygesen runs the Danish Seamen’s Church in Hull. He has been in post since February 2008 and this year will be his first Christmas in the region.
The festive traditions in Denmark are different to that in England. Pastor Tygesen gives us an insight into a traditional Danish Christmas.
Christmas starts with advent. A candle is lit on the Advent Wreath each Sunday before Christmas. The wreath is usually made of spruce twigs holding four tall candles and is either hung above or placed on the dining table.
The custom was introduced into Denmark during the German invasion of the Second World War and marks the arrival of Christmas.
Mr and Mrs Tygesen will spend Christmas in Hull
A typical Nordic tradition is the televised advent calendar called Advent Kranz, where a festive story is told each day in an episodic format during the 24 days leading to Christmas.
The night before Christmas children usually set bowls of porridge in the attic for the fictional ‘Nisse’, a small mischievous old man dressed in grey with a red pixie hat.
Legend has it that by feeding the Nisse, children will keep their presents and their Christmas decorations will remain undisturbed.
The most important day in the Danish festival calendar is Christmas Eve.
Mainly a family event, the celebrations tend to start with church services in the afternoon and attendance can be high.
“We have many services as it can get so busy that there’s no room in the church.” said Pastor Tygesen. “In the past I’ve had to hold four services in one afternoon.”
Some families bring out the tree on Christmas Eve
The service is followed by a big meal at home. Food consists of either roast pork or goose, potatoes in sweet syrup and rice pudding. Adults tend to drink sweet beer or red wine.
One of the Danish customs is to hide an almond in the rice pudding and whoever finds it receives a gift.
After dinner, families gather around the Christmas tree. Holding each others hand they dance around the Christmas tree and sing Danish carols. The day is brought to a close once all the presents have been opened.
Christmas Day and Boxing Day are a time for relaxation. Much of it is spent with relatives where they gather for lunch or dinner.
“The Christmas celebrations symbolises peace and happiness.” said Pastor Tygesen.
“I think it's symbolising the harmony of the family. That we are together.”
last updated: 15/12/2008 at 14:15