This Christmas holiday has been an unusual one for us, but it's been good. Celebrating away from our own home feels different, but celebrating in a different continent is even more so. We had two of our sons visiting for a few weeks, and we loved spending time together in Norway and celebrating Christmas with our family who live in Denmark. Aspiring to some minimalism this year, I scavenged our neighborhood for the branches for a Christmas tree in our apartment. All the decorations are handmade except the Estonian woman in her national costume.
A few days before Christmas, we flew to Copenhagen to be with our family there. One day before the Christmas celebrations, Sten and I took the train into Copenhagen and just enjoyed walking around. Pictured below are views of the main shopping/walking street, people enjoying a hot drink and lunch outside (it was about 0 C or 32 F), the harbor, and the design museum.
Our Danish family enjoy the tradition of beginning Christmas celebrations the first Sunday of Advent with the lighting of one candle of four, and then lighting one more each successive Sunday until Christmas eve. They bring in their fresh Christmas tree the day before Christmas eve (which is called Lille Juleaften or Little Christmas Eve).
They also enjoy a special family meal together which includes risengrød -- rice porridge. This year one of the dishes included was a roast pumpkin salad with spinach and goat cheese. I found the recipe on a wonderful website of Swedish cooking videos that I thoroughly enjoy watching. I recommend you check them out. The salad was absolutely delicious. Here's their web address: http://www.homegrownswedes.com/Roast-Pumpkin.
I noticed that both in Norway and in Denmark the preferred Christmas trees are a different variety than is usually favored at home in the U.S. Ours are more solidly pyramidal whereas as the Scandinavian ones are less thickly branched with clear layers of branches. This makes their trees work well for live candles, which is how our family light theirs. The candle holders are designed so when the candle gets close to the holder, the flame goes out, and they are designed to balance over a tree branch with a counterweight hanging below the candle.
Christmas eve in the afternoon most of us attended the church service in Copenhagen's Cathedral Church of Our Lady with beautiful music provided by their boy choir. There was standing room only in the church (Mor was the only one of us who got to sit). I found it interesting that the pews face each other rather than all facing the front of the church. The service was a beautiful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas -- why we celebrate in the first place.
We had three kinds of potatoes, roast duck, spaghetti ring florentine, red cabbage, salads, and risalamande -- a delicious rice, whipped cream, and almond dessert -- with cherry sauce. There are probably things I'm forgetting because there was much variety; however, all was delicious.
Some of the cousins and Sten serenaded the rest of us with Christmas music while food was prepared and many conversations carried on.