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CHRISTMAS IN DENMARK
BY CHRISTIE STILSON
Christmas traditions in Nordic countries go back to the early days of Christianity and even pagan times. The darkest day of the year, would be celebrated by bringing light into the house. Trudging out to the forest to settle on the perfect tree and then setting it up with candles to fill the house with a glow while a holiday dinner would fill the house with warmth and fragrant smells. The Danish Jule is celebrated on Christmas Eve. The Christmas tree is the center of the festivities and would be set up this day. The tradition to bring in an evergreen tree was begun back in the 18th century in Germany. Originally it would have been decorated with edible items such as fruits and sweets.
The Danish celebrate their love of song and dance with all ages joining to dance around the Christmas tree. Christmas carols and hymns would be sung and dancing near to the tree provided the opportunity to grab some of the goodies from the tree. And traditionally it would have been candles that cast a gentle glow throughout the room. This event for Christmas hygge might take place before or after a fine meal. It is a long standing and beloved part of the December 24th evening festivities.
While the Danes focus on the tree on Christmas Eve, a Swedish Jul tradition following Christmas is held on January 13th in honor of St. Knut. St. Knut's day, heralds the end of the winter holiday with the opportunity to throw out the Christmas tree. But first there is time for singing around the Christmas tree, and then with the remaining ornaments removed, the tree is carried about through the house with song before being deposited outside.
The local adult recreational dance group, Norske Rundannsere, (currently on Covid hiatus) makes use of this tradition and to have a celebration. They form a long line and sing as they carry a tree around the room. After depositing it outside, they return to the Nordic NW main ballroom to continue with an evening of dance and live music. After Covid you can join them celebrating holidays throughout the year in the Ballroom at Nordia House.