A Christmas wish from the Jacobsen household. (Erik Jacobsen photo)

A Christmas wish from the Jacobsen household. (Erik Jacobsen photo)

How to celebrate Christmas Danish-style

Erik reminisces about Christmas in the Jacobsen home and provides other holiday tidbits

As Christmas will be well underway when you read this, perhaps I can share how a typical Danish Christmas unfolds.

What Danish people focus on most of the time is Christmas Eve. This is not thought of as an all-day event on December 24. Most families will be gathering for an evening of celebration.

Before this, it was common to attend a Christmas service in the late afternoon, to hear the story of Jesus’ birth and why He came.

Then it continues with the Christmas dinner at 6 p.m. In my home, this meal lasted for more than an hour.

The meat was usually pork roast, cooked red cabbage, white potatoes, small browned potatoes and various vegetables.

Sometime during the meal, the male from each household would stand to give a short speech.

Later, the dessert, called risalamande, was served. This is a wonderfully creamy almond rice pudding with whipped cream and a whole almond hidden inside. This is served topped with a warm, delicious cherry sauce.

Whoever got that almond would get the almond prize in the form of a marzipan pig or the like.

After dinner, everybody would help to clear the table. While the ladies would do the dishes, the men would gather in the living room.

When my mom would announce the dishes were done, my dad would move the Christmas tree into the middle of the dining room. Then light the real candles (we never had a fire).

We would then gather around the tree, hold hands, walk around the Christmas tree singing Christmas hymns and songs from memory.

Then came the exchanges of gifts, followed by coffee (very strong) and homemade Christmas cookies.

Here is some additional information:

Why Christmas Eve? In Denmark and the other countries in the Nordic region, Christmas is already celebrated on the 24th of December.

This is because, in the old days, you did not have mechanical clocks, so a new day began when the sun went down. Therefore, the Christmas celebration already started the evening at sunset.

The celebration of Christmas started in Rome about 336 CE, but it did not become an essential Christian festival until the ninth century.

Christmas tree production in Canada totals from three to six million trees annually.

Trees are produced in many of the provinces of Canada, but the nation’s leading producers are found in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario, which account for 80 per cent of Canadian tree production.

Of the 900,000 trees produced annually in British Columbia, most are cut from native pine stands.

Christmas was declared a federal holiday in Canada and the United States on June 26, 1870.

The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.

Perhaps you have had a chance to ask yourself, “what is Christmas all about?”

Someone wrote the song “Christmas is not Christmas until it happens in your heart; deep down within you is where Christmas really starts so give your heart to.”

If you have questions or suggestions for gardening topics, please email me at: e.jacobsen85@yahoo.com