Looking Forward

5 Jan

View 1This is the view I have right now: the sky is grey, the light is flat and it’s raining. Not even lighting candles can introduce any feeling of hygge, but somehow it feels refreshing after all the trappings and indulgences of Christmas, and I’m actually in a very good mood!

Heart 1
I can highly recommend Christmas in Denmark – it’s fantastic! – and this year has definitely been my best Danish Christmas so far. It’s the first time I’ve known where to go to buy everything, I have enough of a grip on the language to ask if I couldn’t find something and also understand the reply, but most importantly I have an idea of the many traditions connected with Christmas.

Star 1I remember during my first Christmas in Denmark having a Katie Holmes moment when I thought I’d got myself mixed up with some crazy cult. It happened when the whole family joined hands and started singing and circling the Christmas tree. I had no knowledge of the Danish language at that point and didn’t realize that the songs were in fact Christmas songs and that this is a tradition inherent in the Danish Christmas. I still find it a bit bizarre and wouldn’t say I’m entirely comfortable with it, but these days I think this is more to do with the safety issue. It’s customary for Danish Christmas trees to be decorated with paper hearts and stars made by the family through the years, but before they dance round the tree they cover it in real candles and then light them. I’m still not convinced of the wisdom of this particular tradition.

Christmas tree 1Sadly, the glory of the Christmas tree is short-lived. Only two or three days after Christmas, the trees are stripped of all pynt and unceremoniously thrown out. However, I did see an advert in the local paper where the zoo in Odense is requesting folk to donate their discarded trees for the animals to play with/eat.

If the potential hazard of naked flame on the Christmas tree is enough to get my wind up, then the welcoming in of the New Year brings me out in a cold sweat. In the UK our fireworks tradition is connected to the 5th November where we gather to watch organised displays. These are normally run by the local council and supplemented by first aid organisations as well as the emergency services should they be required. The UK is hysterically health-and-safety conscious and when one grows up in this environment it seems quite normal to be aware of the potential danger of everything. Not so in Denmark. Nytårsaften (Hogmanay/New Year’s Eve) is a Molotov cocktail of drunken adults taking to the streets to set off fireworks whilst young children run around in between with fireworks of their own. Fortunately, there aren’t so many children in our street so I was able to take a couple of pictures with reduced fear of injury or death.

Fireworks 1Following the fireworks, I must confess that I can’t really report my New Year celebrations with any kind of detail or accuracy. Suffice to say it involved going across to our neighbours, a LOT of drinking and the subsequent losing of the entire 1st January…

Anyway, the New Year is underway, the decorations are gone and a whole year of opportunities lies ahead, and despite the grey weather I am very excited!

Calendar

Fremadskuende

Det er den udsigt, jeg har lige nu: himlen er grå, lyset er svagt, og det regner. Selv ikke det at tænde stearinlys kan skabe en hyggelig stemning, men på en eller anden måde føles det forfriskende efter al julepragten og nydelserne, og jeg er faktisk i rigtig godt humør!

Heart 2Jeg kan godt anbefale jul i Danmark – det er fantastisk! – og dette år har uden tvivl været min bedste danske jul hidtil. Det er første gang, jeg har vidst, hvor man skal hen for at købe det hele; jeg har nok styr på sproget til at spørge, hvis der er noget, jeg ikke kan finde (og forstå svaret); men det vigtigste er, at jeg nu har en idé om de mange traditioner, der er forbundet med den danske jul.

Emil julepyntFra min første jul i Danmark kan jeg huske, at jeg oplevede et Katie Holmes-øjeblik, da jeg troede, at jeg havde indladt mig i en slags tosset kult. Det skete, da hele familien pludselig tog hinanden i hånden og begyndte at synge og gå rundt om juletræet. Jeg havde ikke lært at tale dansk på dette tidspunkt og var ikke klar over, at sangene faktisk var julesange, og at det er en tradition, der hører til den danske jul. Jeg synes stadigvæk, at det er lidt mærkligt, og jeg vil ikke sige, at jeg har det helt godt med det, men for tiden har det mere med sikkerhed at gøre. Danske juletræer plejer at være pyntet op med papirhjerter og stjerner, der i årenes løb er lavet af familien, men før de danser rundt om træet, pynter de det med ægte stearinlys og tænder dem. Jeg er stadigvæk ikke overbevist om klogskaben af denne bestemte tradition.

Christmas tree 2Desværre er juletræets pragt kort. Kun to eller tre dage efter jul er pynten fjernet og træerne uden videre smidt ud. Imidlertid så jeg en reklame i vores lokale avis, hvor Odense Zoo anmoder folk om at give deres brugte træer til dyrene at lege med og spise.

Hvis åben ild på juletræet er nok til at skræmme mig, kan danskernes måde at byde nytåret velkommen på få mig til at svede anstens sved. I UK er vores tradition for fyrværkeriet knyttet til d. 5. november, hvor vi samler sammen for at se tilrettelagte opvisninger. Disse er arrangeret af kommunerne og suppleret af første hjælpsorganisationer så som brandvæsenet, redningskorpset osv. UK er hysterisk sikkerhedsbevidst, og når man vokser op i dette miljø, ser det ud til at være helt normalt at være bevidst over den mulige fare i alt. Men ikke i Danmark. Nytårsaften er en molotovcocktail af fulde voksne, som søger ud på gadene for at affyre fyrværkeriet, mens børn løber omkring med deres eget fyrværkeri. Heldigvis er der ikke så mange børn, der bor på vores vej, så jeg havde mulighed for at tage et par billeder med begrænset risiko for liv og lemmer.

Fireworks 2Efter fyrværkeriet må jeg indrømme, at jeg ikke rigtig kan rapportere med detaljer eller nøjagtighed om min nytårsfejring. Det er nok at sige, at vi gik ind hos vores genboer, drak meget og derefter mistede hele 1. januar…

I hvert fald er nytåret i gang, pynten er væk og et helt år af muligheder ligger foran mig, og til trods for det grå vejr er jeg virkelig spændt!

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2 Responses to “Looking Forward”

  1. Sheena January 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    Saw this on the train on the way home from teaching at RCS, followed by long boozy meal with friends. Couldn’t resist reading it straight away – and of course it lived up to expectations. The Xmas songs reminded md of Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander. Have you seen it? Xx

    Like

    • Beesas January 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

      Why, thank you! Yes, I have seen F & A (I think it was you who lent it to me!) but I can’t remember it… I only watched it once but maybe I should try again 😉 x

      Like

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