I don’t celebrate christmas. Well, Mongolians are Buddhist, so we don’t celebrate christmas as festive as the christian countries. However, ever since i have come to Denmark, i have not missed celebrating a single christmas - a Danish christmas, to be exact. Danes celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, unlike the States where they normally celebrate on the 25th. Danes have their Christmas Eve on the 23rd, while States on the 24th. The reason lies within the Jesus birth between the 24th night and 25th morning.
I had a julekalendar this year in Christmas, which means christmas calendar. But it is 24 piece of small wrapped gifts where you have to open one each morning and count the days to Christmas with it from December 1 [there is also a xmas candle where you have to light up little day by day]. It is the sweetest tradition of Christmas ever for me, and the presents included this year were: hello kitty socks, hello kitty underwear, hello kitty shoelaces [i know, Danes think all Asians like Hello Kitty stuffs] chocolate bars, hair bans, hand soap, hand cream, shower gel, body cream, etc...small, but very cute presents! If i ever want to take some tradition from Christmas, it definitely will be this Julekalander. I felt like a little kid again :]
Before you start buying christmas gifts, you need to ask for their christmas wishlist. This was something very new to me, just like the Birthday Wishlist. Instead of surprising one another, you give something exactly what he/she needs. Very practical, innit? As for me, i wished for books, books and books... my school books are annoyingly expensive! Hundred dollars in average each! And the best part is, after christmas everything is under 50% sale, lol. The same present i bought for them always become half priced.
CANDY MAKING ON THE 23RD
Another sweet tradition is, you make the sweets and the chocolate bars yourself! Marzipans, white chocolate, dark chocolate, nuts, walnuts, raisins, cranberry...whatever your choice is, you can mix them up and cover them with melted chocolate and VOILA: you’ll have your own shaped and hand made candy bars :D
CHRISTMAS TREE ON THE 24TH
I think decorating christmas tree is same for all countries. Though Mongolia doesn’t celebrate christmas, we still have a (fake) tree where we decorate. The only difference is they cut a real tree and we don’t :P
Some families take a christmas walking around their home. Depending on the weather on Christmas, the family altogether walk either far or just some few blocks.
Some families, or maybe most families, pay a visit to the church. I even like visiting the church in Christmas, where its decorated so nice, and we sing songs [even if i don’t understand what i’m singing - i have a lyriced book in my hand]...it’s so nice and so relaxing. The most boring part is ofcourse when the priest starts talking. Well, it wouldn’t be boring if i understood Danish well, but for me it demands the most patience. But i respect them ofcourse, and i stay silent and clap with others in the end.
CHRISTMAS DINNER - DUCK
If you’re with a Danish family celebrating, you would get a very strong RUBY port wine, at the start, and taste the candies you have made the day before and talk/catch up with one another. Meanwhile the mother would be in the kitchen preparing the duck, and side dishes. I love the sweet potatoes; and after lots of eating and drinking wine/beer and saying ‘skål’ [cheers in Danish], you get ready for the rice pudding with almond and vanilla cream topped with cherry sauce. There is a traditional game, where a person gets a present if he/she get the full/uncut almond among the rice. it’s not really my favorite game, because i never get a full almond.
After the feast, you relax with cookies and coffee again. You can ofcourse have your coffee however you like, with Bailey, Cognac, whisky or simply classic Milk :D.
Then the fun part starts, men of the house start lighting up the candles on the christmas tree [women are not allowed to do that or see, very racist, ha] and once they are done, every body holds one anothers hand and start dancing/circling the tree while singing christmas song - you do this max 30 min. And after dancing around the tree, the long waited xmas unwrapping begins. Men take turns and distribute the presents to all, and once all get their present, they start unwrapping them and start hugging the person who gave you a present and the happy ending....
Oh wait, i almost forgot the Christams Lunch: JULEFROKOST!
The next morning, whether you have hangover or not, you get christmas lunch. if you are fresh, you can have breakfast in the morning and then have lunch in the afternoon with the rest. But this lunch is special, there’s a tradition to it as well.
1st: Danish snaps, very disgusting, but you have to drink it with the rest.
2nd: you get all kinds of herring: apple herring, curry herring, herring with onion, xmas herring etc. You have to eat it with the black bread. There is also liver paste somewhere
3rd: Snaps again, and you get salmon on the white bread.
4th: snaps again, and you finally get the friekedela. Pork meat
5th: you get another type of snaps again, golden maybe, and then you get the dessert: all kinds of cheese, crackers and grape...
last: coffee and cockies... and after that you wont be able to eat anything for the whole day, yeah. it’s like our Tsagaan Sar, where you have to eat till you can’t, lol.
And the next day, you go back to your home to your girlfriend/boyfriend. Did i mention boyfriend’s mother gives the girlfriend a big Christmas gift, which is very cool. Girls just need to relax and accept it. So girlfriends get gift from their boyfriends AND from his mom as well, while boys just get one gift from the girlfriend :D Being girl is awesome sometimes!
Hope you all are having a pleasant holidays!