Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Danish Christmas a.k.a Food Fest

Looks like there were about 12 of us from all the bottles? Nope, only 6

Merry Christmas! from Santa's helper

Rice pudding with cherry sauce

Christmas dinner

Food preparation

So many presents!

The living room beautifully decorated

Rasmus and Juleman! (aka Santa Clause aka Poul)

Neils and baby Jonas

Traditional delicious Danish hotdogs

The beach in the snow


Tivoli in the snow!

Poul, Rasmus and Jonas

The window in their kitchen

To give you a quick snapshot of what my life has been in Copenhagen for the past 8 days, I will say this: my life can now be documented and explained simply with each dish I consume.
I don't think I've ever had such an elaborate or traditional Christmas in my life, which to be honest, isn't really saying much because my family was never really big on making a huge celebration out of the holidays. However, don't let my lack of past experience fool you, because I think by any standards, well, American standards, it was a pretty legit Christmas.
However, before we get to a blow-by-blow recounting of Christmas, I'll just briefly outline the activities and events leading up to Christmas, as well as why I am here.
My dad has been friends with the Holms for over 40 years, so, needless to say, they've always been in my life. The Holms = Birgit (whom my dad met when she was about 16 and he was about 19), her husban Poul, and their 3 grown kids: Kasper, Sara, and Mathias. Kasper is now married with a child and living in Poland, and Sara and her boyfriend have 2 little boys, both of whom I spent a lot of time with here.
I have been here to visit them about 5 times in my life I think, the last of which was the Summer of 2005, yet despite the span of time, the house and family are still very familiar to me.
Before coming, I was prepared for my image of a Danish winter: cold, dark, rainy, and grey. However, as I'm writing this, the sun is shining and the snow has all melted (though its still cold). So its been some of that winter, but not too bad! In the limited hours of daylight, I have been into town, been to Ikea (yessss, a tradition with us), been to an aweeeesome modern art museum, took a walk on the beach, been to Tivoli (their famous theme park that is beautifully decorated for the holidays), and, last but not least, ATE. We have been with Sara and Neils (her boyfriend) and their boys a lot, which has been lovely because I've always been close to Sara. It has also just been a regular vacation with gras matinees (sleeping in late), hanging around and relaxing. Speaking of relaxing, my credit card and bank account aren't doing much exercising at all for the holidays either, so its a vacation for them as well, thank god.
Ok. Christmas.
For the Danes, Christmas Eve is the most important day, like Christmas day for us. The Holms aren't very religious (like most Danes), but Christmas Eve Day, or Julaften, ( jul - Christmas, aften - eve), is the one day out of the year that they go to church. Birgit had been preparing for the meals to come for about a week, shopping and preparing little by little. The house was beautifully decorated, there were tons of presents under the tree (mostly for Rasmus, Sara's 2 year old), and the dinner was wonderful. As per tradition, we had duck, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner, along with much beer, wine, and port wine, and for dessert they have this type of rice pudding, in which is hidden one whole almond, and whoever finds the almond has to hide it in their mouth for the whole meal, and when the reveal it at the end, they get a present. That dinner lasted for about 3 hours, followed by present opening, and more alcohol.
Well, if I thought that dinner was something, I knew nothing.
Christmas day lunch included four or five courses and lasted about 5 or 6 hours. We had: herring prepared in 3 different ways (pickled, curried and fried), smoked eel, a bread accompaniment, potatoes and green cabbage, more duck, a pork dish, chicken and asparagus tarts, and finally more rice pudding. And with each course, there was of course, beer, wine, and Shnaps (which i didn't really like but was encouraged to drink because it was good for digestion, and trust me, if you're eating that much, you would try it too). So that was lunch, but it lasted until dinner, and thankfully we didn't have dinner also. It was lovely though, very intimate, just family. Then Sara and Neils and the boys left, which was sad because I don't know the next time I'll be seeing them, however its never too long - I can never stay away for too long.
Today is Saturday, and we have a friend's party to go to where, surprise surprise, there will be more eating. It has been wonderful, although I keep remembering the last time I was here and it was sunny and warm and beautiful and I miss that, but oh well. Soon enough.
I return back to Paris on Monday, and the following day John and I will be going to the airport to get Mary and Maya! So excited.
Here are some pictures, hope you enjoy.
God Jul!

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