Finding Christmas in Denmark

When moving abroad – honoring your own family holiday traditions while sampling those of your new home can feel like a balancing act. Especially, in a country like Denmark. Small and fierce and proud of their heritage and customs – Jul is a set tradition that you don’t mess around with. Just ask any Dane you know – where Julemanden (Santa) is “from” and what he eats on Christmas Eve when leaving presents for your kids. Hint: it’s NOT the North Pole and there is nary a cookie. And the specific ritual and menu for the Julefrokost or Christmas dinner is not to be adapted, tweaked or innovated neither. No modern new Nordic cuisine here, this is tradition. Who would dare suggest wood ants on moss during Jul. And when do you celebrate Christmas in Denmark? December 24th of course.

Danes take their Christmas customs very seriously. And Christmas is somewhat of an obsession here – celebrated through the entire advent season. It makes sense as the days get shorter and shorter and darker and darker. We all need reasons to light candles and bake cookies and hang wreaths. I personally love the Dansk passion for tradition and family and community and when you are allowed in to share theirs, it is lovely. Sometimes intimate, sometimes raucous but always interesting. One Danish tradition I can completely get behind is the annual trip to cut the juletræ – your Christmas tree.

Rosendal Julemarked, Ålsgårde Denmark | Where to Find Christmas in Denmark via Oregon Girl Around the World
Rosendal Julemarked – Juletræer in Ålsgårde, Denmark


Rosendal Julemarked, Ålsgårde Denmark | Where to Find Christmas in Denmark via Oregon Girl Around the World
Our own Julemanden at Rosendal’s Julemarked

This is something that feels very familiar as we have always done this every year no matter where we have lived. From Michigan to Ohio to Pennsylvania to Texas to Oregon and now here in Denmark. And while we may be a little earlier than the average Scandi with our tree procurement and installation, I can highly recommend the experience. This was our second annual outing to one of the seriously most hyggeligt Christmas markets and tree farms in Nordsjælland – Rosendal Julemarked. You can take a historic train ride from Hellerup Station or Hillerød Station to reach Rosendal Farm in little Ålsgårde near Helsingnør. From the train depot, it is a short walk to the farm where you follow the tree-lined path down to the barn where all the Jule activity is happening.

There are chickens and roosters roaming around the pre-cut trees. Warm your hands on the open burners before grabbing a saw and heading out to the field if you want to pick your own. Wear boots as it can be very muddy.

Rosendal Julemarked, Ålsgårde Denmark | Where to Find Christmas in Denmark via Oregon Girl Around the World
Nordmann Fir Juletrær at Rosendal Julemarked

There are only two kinds of trees available here – Nordmann Firs and Rødgrans (a traditional Spruce tree.) Being an Oregon girl from the land of towering Douglas fir trees – I always go for a fir. Scurry on out to the field and take a look. Just don’t let your wee lass get too fixated on any specific one only to be drawn to tears when that wasn’t the family’s selection (second year in a row). I do not negotiate with terrorists, but I am somewhat remiss to admit – I buckled and we took hers. Red-faced and muddy – with our heavy, green, fragrant fir in tow, we head back to the Julemarked.

While Far (Dad) has them tie up the tree, we are welcome to explore the barn – there are bunnies to cuddle and round pink little piggies to pet. Small children might want to ride a pony or be pulled in a cart.

Rosendal Julemarked, Ålsgårde Denmark | Where to Find Christmas in Denmark via Oregon Girl Around the World
Pony cart rides at Rosendal Julemarked

Walk in past the caught pheasants and deer for your dinner and be instantly charmed. Little white lights twinkle through the hay-lined market. Tucked in amidst baubles and trinkets and décor for your tree – small Julegaver (gifts) are sold – and everywhere wishes of “Glædelig Jul.”

But more than the tree drama and fluffy lop bunnies, my favorite part of the Rosendal experience is the warm Gløgg* or Cocoa and fresh æbleskivers with jam and powdered sugar. You order per person, with three to an order, but they are so fluffy and yummy that you might need a second round. I’m not saying that we did. But YOU might. Cozy and candle lit, with a live roaring fire – the back hall of the market is a perfect respite. Our first year here our visit was timed closer to Christmas and the tables were packed. But this year, we had no trouble finding the perfect spot to enjoy this first Sunday of the advent season!

A quintessential Danish Jul experience. And while I can probably not pronounce Glædelig correctly – I can still wish you one. Glædelig Jul! Cheers from Copenhagen! – Erin


Rosendalsvej 5
3140 Ålsgårde


19 November to 23 December 2016
Wednesday – Sunday from 10-17

Entrance is free, but they only take cash, Dankort or mobilepay for your christmas goodies. Enjoy!

+45 20 82 19 77

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*Gløgg is a Danish Christmas drink made of warm mulled wine with spices, raisins and sliced almonds.

Sharing this little Danish Christmas sip with Faraway Files Travel Blog Community. Skål! Cheers!

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61 thoughts on “Finding Christmas in Denmark

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  3. Martha

    Oh, how I wish we could celebrate again this year together….with all of our families coming in to join for the festivities and food. It was wonderful last year. The selection of the tree is always a big discussion and you capture it well.

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  5. I think it’s incredibly important to carry on with holiday traditions even once you move abroad. Next Thursday is Thanksgiving and I will certainly be cooking a full meal (on Saturday). Those æbleskivers look yummy!! #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes – we tried to do turkey day on Thursday last year and it was a little tough with no time off work. And finding a turkey here is difficult or EXPENSIVE. I did bring some Libby’s home with me from recent trip to DC to ensure pumpkin pie would be had! Enjoy! Grateful that you are part of #FarawayFiles – Erin

      1. Ya I’ve yet to find a turkey so we’ve cooked duck and goose which are both good! I’ve already had my mom ship me some cream of mushroom soup! Definitely too rough to do it on Thursday though when everyone has to work! Glad to be a part of FarawayFiles!

      2. oregongirlaroundtheworld

        Yes – think I’m going to do a turducken roulade hybrid thing this year – but keep the traditional stuffing and bourbon candied sweet potatoes and corn casserole! Tummy rumbling as I write!

  6. I must admit that despite being avidly anti Christmas before December, this has got me a tiny bit excited! However, the sun is still shining, temperatures hover around 19°c and trees still have leaves on here on the Côte d’Azur so it really is hard to think about Christmas. I’d love to experience a Scandi Christmas one day, it sounds very special and I’d undoubtedly get into it a bit earlier than in the South of France! #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes – when the temps have dipped into the negatives and the light seems to have switched off at 3pm – you have to embrace the candlelit, twinkly lights of the julehygge a little earlier! Haha! It is charming though. Cheers from Copenhagen -Erin

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes – it has been a lovely place to make new traditions – many I’m sure we’ll carry with us everywhere! Cheers, Erin

  7. Sleigh bells ring.. ok Erin you got me. Love this post. Love Christmas. I embrace it wherever we go but it is hard being away from home during the festive season. Our Christmases are all about lazing in the sun after a seafood feast. That tree is a beauty! #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha! I know – we spent two Christmasses down under and I felt the opposite – it was more like our 4th of July celebrations cooking out on the “barbie” – but we loved it!

  8. Clare Thomson

    Even I can imagine getting into the Christmas spirit earlier in Denmark. It’s fascinating reading how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world. I love the annual trip to get the Christmas tree, that perfect tree that the whole family falls in love with. Really like the sound of those post tree-felling treats too.

  9. What an utterly charming post! I’m now keen to find out more about the Christmas traditions in Denmark. You’re right, this all looks mega-hygge – especially the glogg at the end. We’ve never done the tree-selecting trip before – you’ve convinced me that it’s a great idea. I know my kids would love it. #FarawayFiles

  10. We were just discussing getting our tree and your post popped up! Good timing! My family doesn’t usually agree with tree selection either… we take turns each year. Looks like it was a lovely day out!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I usually pull rank when it comes to final decision – my mom engrained that! Haha! She was happy with it in the end! Cheers from Denmark – Erin

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha! No Greenland! Because that’s where Julemanden comes from and Denmark owns it. It’s really the furthest north – it makes sense really!

      1. Aha, so they have both Julemanden and Santa? I thought Julemanden was the Danish word for Santa. In Norway julenissen is the Norwegian word for Santa. As I said, so close, but apparently not so close at all.

      2. oregongirlaroundtheworld

        You’re correct -Julemanden is what they call Santa. And they have the nisse here too – naughty little elves who you have to leave rice pudding for or they will play tricks!

  11. I love the idea of being able to saw down your own tree! A bit different to here where it’s very much a visit to a garden centre to pick up a ready cut version. That said, it won’t be before 1 December (not allowed in our house!) 🙂 #Farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It’s the only way we do it! Tromp through the field, up and down the rows and try to find the perfect one! Cheers from Denmark – no tree til after Thanksgiving – don’t worry! Erin

  12. Um… okay, you might just have an unexpected guest show up at your door this Christmas. Christmas in Denmark sounds so wonderful and so cozy. I know this is not the same but it brought me back to when I spent Christmas in Germany. Still my favorite Christmas to date. Thanks for sharing! #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      There’s more charm where that came from! Yes I can imagine a German Christmas would be super special as well. Cheers from Scandiland! Thanks for linking and engaging with #FarawayFiles – Erin

  13. It’s wonderful that you’ve adopted the traditions of your new country. We live in Spain at the moment and will definitely investigate the festive traditions here. Denmark sounds so Christmassy! Glædelig Jul! #farawayflies

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Doesn’t Spain do Christmas later? Like first week of January? I would love to experience that too! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  14. Ha – that made me laugh as we too noticed how fiercely traditional the Danes were on our two trips this year! They’re so cute! And it makes perfect sense that Jul would be so big for them with the whole Hygge thing they’ve got going on. It looks like the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

  15. I love how Christmas traditions differ, I didn’t know Danes are also hardcore when it comes to Christmas. Celebrating it for the whole advent season? That’s amazing! I’d love to take part on it. 🙂

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I am loving your Christmas enthusiasm over there in London – loved your Instagram story with the tree lighting and music! You would adore Denmark too! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  16. Oh so interesting to read about Christmas traditions in other countries, and not the holiday commercialisation that we see in the US and Asia too 🙂 #farawayfiles

  17. Charming, endearing and VERY “hyggeligt” – this looks wonderful! The advent season without neon Santa Clauses, crass marketing and over-tinselling (is that even a word?) can be SO beautiful. We’re huge Scandi-fans but have never visited in winter. Looks like we should!

    Thanks and greetings from Luxembourg! #FarawayFiles

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  19. I absolutely love to hear about local Christmas traditions, they vary so much around the world and often have interesting folklore attached to them – brilliant! The Dane’s are no different by the sound of this – fabulous history that you simply don’t argue or mess with, and I wouldn’t be saying no to some of that Glog and a massive Christmas tree! Thanks for sharing the Christmas spirit 🙂

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Me too! I know that I will be carrying some of the Danish traditions around the world with me! Cheers from Copenhagen and thanks for connecting with #FarawayFiles! Erin

  20. This looks absolutely charming. In the US, we always used to cut down our trees as well. Since moving to Lithuania, we’ve had the same mini fake tree, but I’d love to have a real one again.

  21. This was a lovely post! I love Christmas and have always wondered what Christmas would be like away from hom adn the traditional Turkey Dinner. Looks a lot of fun, may have to celebrate in Denmark one year!

  22. I would absolutely love to spend Christmas in Scandinavia one year. I have family from Norway and I remember being so fascinating with hearing about their Christmas traditions, which are very similar to in Denmark, celebrating on the 24th. It sounds so magical! New Zealand has a hot summer Christmas with BBQs and beaches, but sometimes I think we miss out on the really nice traditions because of that. Christmas is holiday time, and although we have the same types of Christmas food & drink, you don’t get the same cosy feeling as it’s hot outside! Will be interesting to see how Christmas is celebrated here in Fiji.

  23. I would love to visit a Christmas tree farm! I would never know what Christmas tree farm is like living here in Singapore. We go to the local greenery to look (and smell) real *imported* Christmas trees, but it’s just not the same. #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      And are they really expensive? The imported trees? I have spent a few Christmasses in Australia and loved it, but it was a completely different experience from my chilly green treed ones! Cheers from Copenhagen!

  24. We always go to get our Christmas tree at the same spot down the street, but reading this makes me want to go out to a farm and do it the right way! Those fluffy white desserts look really good too :). #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      There has to be somewhere in Connecticut where you have the same level of Christmas charm! Cheers from Copenhagen!

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