What do you associate with Christmas? For a lot of Danes Julehygge (Christmas hygge) will probably be the first thing that comes to mind. Here is a guide to finding Christmas hygge in and around Copenhagen during the upcoming month.
An annual event, which for many Copenhageners marks the beginning of the festive season, is the lighting of the Christmas decorations on Hotel D’Angleterre at Kongens Nytorv. The decorations are accompanied by Christmas music played by the Band of the Royal Guards. So if you want to welcome Christmas like a true Dane go to Kongens Nytorv just before five on the 23rd of November
(see link for facebook event: here)
I personally love Christmas, and for me there are few things more enjoyable than browsing at Christmas markets and maybe buying a festive snack. There are many Christmas markets in and around Copenhagen, so here is a short list of suggestions to make it more manageable for you to find one:
Tivoli: The Christmas decorations themselves make a visit to Tivoli during the festive season a memorable experience. Nestled among hundreds of Christmas trees, fake snow and fairy lights are stalls and small shops, selling decorations, foods, knitwear and more. Since it is in the Tivoli Gardens there is an entrance fee to this Christmas Market, in the form of the entry ticket to the garden. (November 17th – December 31st)
Højbro Plads: A traditional and free Christmas market is the one at Højbro Plads. This is a Christmas Market as most people know it, with small wooden cottage stalls, selling crafted goods, food and more. It is in the centre of Copenhagen and also free. I would suggest everyone of you to visit it to fit in some julehygge among the exam reading, which is unavoidable for many of us during December. (November 16th – December 22nd)
Christiania: For an untraditional Christmas market with an exotic twist head to Christiania for their yearly Christmas market. The market takes place in Den Grå Hal and includes more than 100 stalls with a wide variety of goods. There is even live music played every day of the market to set the atmosphere. The entry is free. (December 6th – 20th)
Kronborg: Lastly a Christmas Market outside Copenhagen: Christmas at Kronborg is a Christmas market set in one of the Danish royal castles. The ticket includes entry to the market as well as access to the regular displays at the castle. If you have not yet been to Elsinor and seen Hamlet’s castle, Kronborg, the Christmas market might just be the perfect opportunity to get you out and play the tourist, while also getting a super christmassy feeling! (November 30th – December 2nd and December 7th – 9th)
Much Julehygge takes place at home, or in the homes of family and friends. As well as of course the many Christmas parties (julefrokost). For people on a student budget, this has the added advantage of often being very affordable 😉
A very chilled and hygge way to get ready for Christmas is to make traditional Danish paper decorations. While you can of course go for a more advanced option, there are many ready-to-fold kits available in most supermarkets. These make it easy to add a bit of Danish flair to your Christmas decor.
While making Christmas you might get a bit peckish and want to go all out on the Christmas spirit. As is true for many other countries, Denmark has quite a few sweet treats that are associated with Christmas. If this is your first festive season in Denmark you might feel a little confused that we have rice pudding (risengrød) for dinner and call pancake puffs apple slices (æbleskiver), even though they do not contain any apple.
Some Danish Christmas snacks, which I would recommend to try are æbleskiver, gløgg, risengrød (or risalamande), klejner, and all the different Christmas cookies :o) If you go to a Christmas market you are very likely to come across some of them. – On a slightly healthier note; you might have noticed that many Danes go crazy for mandarins during November and December.
Another very Danish Christmas thing is the candle calendars (Kalenderlys) which many danes light every day of December, counting down to Christmas. (if you do buy one, remember to consider how long you’ll need to burn it each day; the classical pitfall is being far behind, and never reaching the 24th on your candle)
Another way to count down for Christmas is having or following an advent calendar. This can either be chocolate based, as in other countries, but there are also shows on TV, airing each day from December 1st to 24th, as well as many children (and some lucky adults) getting personal gifts each day leading up to Christmas.
Whether you choose to go Danish in counting down to Christmas or not, I hope you’ll have a very happy festive season, with much hygge and time with people you love!