Food + Recipes

Heading Home for Christmas in Denmark. What to Bring? (And the Perfect Bag to Bring it in!)

By Helen Russell

A light dusting of snow is starting to fall, the air has a chilly lick to it, and Danes all over the country are preparing to travel home for the holidays. Christmas is A Big Deal in Denmark – and things don’t get much more festive than the annual pilgrimage to celebrate with loved ones on December 24th.

As every good houseguest knows, it’s bad form to arrive empty handed—so Danes indulge in a little retail therapy ahead of their trip. It’s traditional to buy Christmas tree decorations from renowned Danish silversmith Georg Jensen, who release a new design every year to collect. Danish/Norwegian artist Karen Bit Vejles has unveiled Juleuro ’for 2014, a delicate, filigree 24kt gold-plated creation inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Fir Tree. For children, an iconic wooden animal from Kay Bojesen will do nicely (the monkey is a classic). 

Once gifts are stylishly wrapped—Danes excel in ribbon art—it’s time to hit the chocolatiers: Summerbird, for exquisite marzipan butterflies that dissolve on your tongue, and Anton Berg for everything else. The confectioner set up shop in 1884 and is now purveyor to the Royal Danish Court, with the strapline ”You can never be too generous” – a mantra Danes live by.
Next up are refreshments, crucial for any celebration in Denmark. As well as red wine to go with the meal (French, preferably, and full bodied), you’ll need Julebryg liquorice-infused Christmas beer and schnapps, to ‘help the herring swim’ (Warning: there’s a lot of pickled fish involved in Danish holiday lunches).

Fully loaded, there’s just time to pack your tote (a must for stylish Danes) and drive across a landscape of wind-farms, fir trees and wide open spaces to your festive destination. Unless, that is, you’re in Copenhagen, when chances are you’ll be biking it. Do as the practical Danes do and accessorise with a backpack before pedalling home for the holidays. God Jul!

Helen Russell, is a journalist and author of The Year of Living Danishly published by Icon Books, January 2015

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