Merry Christmas / God Jul
Hygge is omnipresent and palpable in Denmark during the holidays. But what is hygge? Essentially it means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge, moments of happiness that one wishes would last forever.
In the two weeks before Christmas, Danes get busy baking cookies and cakes whose recipes have been handed down for generations. There are many favorites. Among the classics are pebernødder (pepper nuts), brunkager (brown cookies) and vaniliekranse (vanilla rings). Besides that, you simply can’t go through a Danish Christmas period without being offered æbleskiver with gløgg – ball-shaped donuts served with marmalade and powdered sugar, plus a cup of mulled wine containing spices, raisins and almonds.
Everyone has enjoyed delicious Danish butter cookies, available in prettily decorated tins. They're made primarily from butter, flour and sugar and are easy to make. Danes start eating them in Advent, but be careful! They're so good that when you start eating them, it's hard to stop!
On Christmas Eve, big bowls of rice pudding are prepared, served for "little Christmas" ((lillejuleaften), enriched with butter, sugar and cinnamon.
Christmas dinner is a serious affair: flæskesteg (gravlax), herrings, rugbrød (rye bread), liver pâté with bacon and mushrooms...
Then come the main courses: roast pork or roast duck with crispy skin, stuffed with prunes and accompanied by boiled or caramelized potatoes, red cabbage (Rødkål) and gravy.
Risalamande is the "official" Danish Christmas dessert, a rice pudding prepared on the 23rd, topped with cherry sauce and enriched with whipped cream and almonds. Everyone cleans their bowl in the hope of being the one to find the hidden almond which means getting an extra little treat or present.
There are many legends surrounding this Christmas dessert, including stories of the Nisse, sprites who bring gifts and who expect to receive a bowl of risalamande in thanks.
There are plenty of other wonderful foods including æbleskiver, little fried doughnuts sprinkled with icing sugar, candied almonds, a glass of snaps, akvavit or Christmas beer - they all add up to a Christmas eve to remember.
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