Christmas in Denmark: Preparations
In the weeks before Christmas Danish families give their homes a thorough cleaning. The cleaning prepares them to receive the many visitors who are likely to be entertained during the Christmas season. Christmas baking also begins early. Not only must there be enough holiday treats to satisfy family members, but also guests must be entertained with the special holiday dainties. Favorite Danish Christmas cookies include spicy, brown sugar, almond cookies called brune kager, deep-fried butter cookies called kleiner, and hard spice cookies called pebernodder. Julekage, Christmas coffee cake, is another popular treat, along with vanillekranse, vanilla butter cookies shaped like wreaths.
In past times well-to-do Danish families often gifted their servants with a plate of Christmas cookies. The servants not only enjoyed the cookies but treasured the plates, which were nicer than their own. In the nineteenth century Danish plate makers began to issue special blue-and-white plates painted with holiday designs and numbered by year. Today people collect these plates. Another Danish Christmas custom achieved worldwide popularity. Around the turn of the twentieth century a Danish postmaster invented the Christmas seal as a way of raising money for charity. Today people in many countries decorate their Christmas cards, packages, and letters with Christmas seals.The Danish people adopted the German custom of decorating their homes with a Christmas tree in the nineteenth century. Many Danish families sit down together and make their own Christmas ornaments out of colored paper and paste. Typical designs include garlands of Danish flags, hearts, nisser, stars, drums, bells, and cones, which are filled with sweets and nuts. Christmas crackers may also be hung on the tree.