Christmas Eve in Denmark: Bask in the glow

In elementary school in the U.S., and I’m sure in elementary schools pretty much everwhere, there are the chapters of social studies books that present a sampling of holiday traditions in other countries. One of my favorite things about traveling is finding out which things hold true outside the pages of a book–and which are sometimes true, but not always the way that is pictured.

My Christmas spent in Denmark was my first Christmas away from home–it could have not been more perfect. It was social studies book perfection. One thing I found out is that Danes really do hold hands while they sing carols and dance around a live Christmas tree that has real candles lit all aglow. The candles are only lit on Christmas Eve.

My Danish family (I still call them that years later) had a pitcher of water close to the tree in case it caught on fire. Besides dancing around the tree, we also wound our way through the house. It was wonderful. I remember feeling safe and loved. This YouTube video is not of my family, but of a family who lives in Svendborg. Still, the look and feel is the same. Notice the garland of the Danish flags. My family’s tree had these as well as paper hearts like the one in the picture. Click on it and it will take you to the Web site with instructions. This video is less than a minute long, but you’ll get the idea.