Danish Language Blog

Counting the days… Posted by on Dec 9, 2012 in Culture, Traditions

It’s Christmas time again! Danes of all ages are looking forward to juleaften (Christmas Eve, December 24th). Children glæder sig til at få julegaver (are looking forward to getting Christmas gifts), while a lot of adults can’t wait for the stress of the annual julehandel (Christmas shopping) to simmer down. Keeping a julekalender (Christmas calendar) is an excellent way to keep track of the countdown. A julekalender is basically a system of 24 ”somethings” (gifts, doors etc.) that represent the 24 first days of december – each day a new ”something” is opened or cracked. Sometimes an overraskelse (surprise) may appear! 🙂

Let’s zoom in on some of the different kinds of julekalendere that are in use in Denmark:

  • kalenderlys (calendar candle) is a candle with the numbers 1–24 printed on it, each day you light it and take your time to watch the flame while the day is slowly melting away…
  • chokoladekalender (chocolate calendar) is, well, a cardboard calendar with a piece of chocolate hidden behind each luge or låge (both meaning ’gate’ or ’lid’). Usually, the chocolate pieces have been decorated with klokker (bells), gaver (presents, parcels), juletræer (Christmas trees) and other things associated with Christmas. Don’t expect too much from the chokolade [shokoLATHeh], which is often very sugary.
  • julekalender as such is usually understood to be a carton calendar with hidden pictures or words that appear when you open the lids. It is often sold as merchandise accompanying televised julekalendere, where a story is being told throughout 24 episodes. One of the most popular ”tv Christmas calendars” is The Julekalender, where some of the main characters speak in a mixture of Danish and English…
  • in a pakkekalender you get a small pakke (parcel) every day. Many forældre (parents) make pakkekalendere for their børn (children), buying small things that they wrap in gavepapir (gift-wrapping paper) and arrange in some fancy way (like putting them in compartmented boxes or hanging them in a sheaf). In that way, the wait for the real julegaver won’t be that unbearable…

    A chokoladekalender…

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.