In Denmark they celebrate Christmas on the eve rather than on the day, so this was the big day for all!
On waking up, we found Michael’s dad ready for us to go and shovel snow from the path. This was a request I had put in, that I wanted to get the experience of shovelling snow, so it is not as evil as it might seem! We also shovelled a path for birds between their feeding table and a tree they like, so that now they can hop along to their hearts content without getting buried with each hop.
After shovelling duty it was on to risalamand duty. This is the Danish Christmas dessert, in which you hide a nut and who gets it in his portion gets the almond gift. Unfortunately I didn’t get the nut, but the nephew did (via his step dad :P).
Once this was done, it was then on to waiting for Michael’s sister’s family to arrived from further north. They arrived on time at 12, when we had lunch all together. This was followed by marzipan-mice-and-other-confectionery making, to be eaten with coffee after all the Christmas dos. My favourite marzipan items were definitely the snowmen!
Proper Christmas eve celebrations start with mass here. So at around 2:15 we left for the church at the bottom of the street for the service starting at 2:45. Even though we thought we were leaving early, the church was already quite full, and we just about found a seat next to each other. The service was quite short by my standard of a Christmas service: 45mins of some prayers, mainly songs, and an homily. Having learnt a bit more about Danish pronunciation since Christmas 2008 I felt like I could more convincingly and emphatically sing along (with no idea what the words meant), which kept me happy for quite a while.
Back home I was getting tired, which means I was getting grumpy. As I knew there were some two hours left for dinner to start, and as all others were busy talking, I sneaked off for a nap, which did wonders for my mood. I woke up just as they were starting to think about getting dinner on the table – perfect timing!
Dinner consisted of stuffed turkey, with brown potatoes, white potatoes and brown gravy, red and white cabbage (and bizarrely crisps). This was the first time they had stuffed turkey, and as it was stuffed with a sausage and nut filling, similar to what we have in Malta, I felt right at home. The others seemed to like it so it sounds like it won’t be the last time we get it – Nomnom!
Dinner was followed by the risalamand, and then the main highlight of the night: Christmas tree events!
First up was dancing around the Christmas tree. This is a weird Danish tradition where you dance around the CHristmas singing Christmas carols. This is a prerequisite of what comes next: Christmas gift receiving. So after dancing, we all sat down, and starting with the smallest in the party, gifts are given out one by one. I got a puking cow, rain jacket and trousers (which I asked for), a scarf, a pedometer, and we also got a family holiday in March. :D. Good stuff. The night then ended with coffee and marzipan confectionery, after which the northern family left, and I went to bed to let Michael speak Danish with his parents with no interruptions of boredom from me.
It was a good night. I enjoyed being around the family, especially as now that I know them better I feel like I can take myself off to somewhere if they are all speaking Danish and keep myself entertained rather than stay there with a silly grin plastered on my face driving myself insane. It was also good to be around his sister’s family. His sister has just had a baby who seemed to like me as she barely cried when I was with her. This however brought up the inevitable questions here in Denmark of when we will have kids, and when we will move to Denmark. The answer was an emphatic no to the first, and a ‘I will come to Denmark, but will Denmark want me?’ answer to the second. His sister seemed quite surprised at how many expats in Denmark feel, but she did seem to acknowledge that it might not be that easy to get a job here. Michael’s family do seem to think that we will definitely move to Denmark sometime soon, but when I mention Malta and us moving there, they quickly stop that line of discussion (to start it again in a few hours, or next time we meet :P).
What is Christmas day proper for me is a relaxing day here. So we will relax…hopefully go sledding, and surprise my family with a call home.