Friday night, around 2:30am, I was coming home from København with some friends. Outside the window I noticed white flakes spiraling down from the sky. My first snow in Denmark. The Jul season is here.
Denmark begins the Christmas season around the middle of November as the daylight gets shorter and the nights get colder. However, the season is called Jul is much more connected to the celebration of family and hygge than the actual Christian holiday. Garlands are strung from streetlamps over the main roads and many stores begin selling ornaments, candles and wrapping paper with Danish flags. Tuborg released its Julebryg that is only sold during the winter season. Tivoli is open again. Halloween pumpkins and cobwebs have been replaced with winter decorations and Christmas lights. The Danes also celebrate with a couple large Christmas meals consisting of fish, snapps, and a Danish form of rice pudding. Upon coming back from my travel break, I was surprised to see how quickly Denmark had accepted the season. In my Danish class on tirsdag, my fabulous professor had placed small candles on all the tables and handed out traditional Jul cookies similar to gingerbread.
In my opinion, America starts the Christmas season much later. Although stores start selling wreaths and local radio stations play Frosty the Snowman on repeat, most of the holiday feelings wait under December 1st and the beginning of Advent. We wait until after the Thanksgiving turkey has been carved and the last piece of pumpkin pie has disappeared before we pull the large cardboard boxes marked “X-Mas” down from the closet.
Danes lack two things: sun and Thanksgiving. I think the combination of these two factors provides the perfect reason to begin the Jul mentality over a month and a half before December 25th. For me it’s been the perfect excuse to wear my warmest scarf, find a wool blanket and cuddle up next to the little fireplace reading a good book.