Traditional Christmas preparations in Denmark can involve the whole family in activities, one of which is a thorough cleaning of the house prior to the arrival of the holiday. In the country, this could include the barnyard and stable because special attention is given to farm animals and birds during the Jul season. Or families might spend the better part of a day together creating new ornaments since a traditional Danish Christmas tree always includes many homemade items. Hearts are a particular favorite, especially the woven paper heart baskets which are usually red and white, Denmark’s national colors. Danes are a patriotic people and their country’s flags are often used as garlands on the Christmas tree. Other typical Danish Christmas tree ornaments include cornucopias, little drums, bells, wooden figures and pinecones. And Danes use more candles than any other people on earth.
Another sign that Christmas is coming to Denmark is the appearance of nisser – in department stores, on street corners, on television, everywhere! Nisser are little men wearing homespun breeches and sporting red caps on their heads. They have long, gray beards which make them look a little like Santa Claus, except they do not do anything as strenuous as delivering gifts. It has been said in Denmark that the tradition of leaving a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve may be overlooked, but to forget to put porridge out for the nisser on that evening could be downright dangerous! Everyone knows that nisser can be cantankerous.
Danes have solved the occasional problem of too many relatives to visit on a holiday because in Denmark there is Christmas Day, December 25 and Second Christmas Day, December 26. The Christmas season in Denmark officially ends on January 5, Twelfth-night, the eve of Epiphany, commonly called the Three Holy Kings’ Day.
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