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.
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.
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.
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
GOOD TO KNOW:
CHRISTMAS MARKET | JULEMARKED OPENING HOURS:
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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