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Peter’s Christmas Posted by on Dec 25, 2018 in Literature, Traditions

Jeg glæder mig i denne tid – nu falder julesneen hvid – så ved jeg, Julen kommer. (I’m happy in this season – now the Christmas snow is falling white – then I know, Christmas is coming.) So begins Peters Jul (Peter’s Christmas), an old children’s book that still colours the way Danes view Christmas…

Preparation of æbleskiver for Christmas. Drawing from the original book. (Copyright expired; found at Wikimedia Commons.)

 

Published by Johan Krohn in 1870, the illustrated bog [book] has become a Danish Xmas cult classic that keeps turning up again and again in Danish homes. I guess generally julen [yooln] is a nostalgic time for many Danes, where you take on your rose-coloured glasses and look back at the ”good old days” – before nytår (New Year) sets in and it’s time to party and look forward.

 

Here’s a classical quote from the story to give you some idea of the mood. The main character, drengen (the boy) Peter, hears his bedstemor (grandmother) telling a story about Julemanden (Santa Claus):

 

Et dejligt juletræ han bær’,
det største vist i skoven.
Hans skæg når lige til hans knæer;
og på hans hat for oven
et lille julelys der står;
det stråler, og det skinner
på næsen og det hvide hår
og på hans røde kinder.
Og gade op og gade ned
sit træ han om vil bære;
hvor alle bo, bestemt han ved,
derpå kan vis man være
A lovely Christmas tree he carries,
the biggest, apparently, in the forest.
His beard reaches him to his knees;
and on top of his hat
a little Christmas candle is standing;
it’s sparkling, and it’s shining
on his nose and his white hair
and on his red cheeks.
And up and down the streets
he’ll carry his tree around;
where everybody lives, he knows precisely,
thereof you can be certain.
Ved husets Dør han stille står
og lytter meget længe;
han vide må, før ind han går,
om der er slemme drenge.
Og hører han, at far er vred,
imens han træet tænder,
han rokker straks ad trappen ned
og ud på gaden render.
By the door of the house he stands silently
and listens for a long time;
he has to know, before he enters,
if there are norty boys.
And if he hears that Dad is mad
while lighting [the candles] of the tree,
he immediately wobbles down the stairs
and hurries onto the street.
Men, hører han, at far og mor
er glad for deres drenge,
imens de pynte julebord
og lys i træet hænge,
da ler den gamle Julefar
og ind i stuen smutter.
Sit lys fra hatten ned han ta’er,
det funkler, og det futter;
med det han hen til træet går
og nikker i det samme,
straks fra hvert lille Lys der står
en klar og dejlig flamme.
But if he hears that Dad and Mum
are fond of their boys,
while decorating their Christmas table
and hanging candles in their tree,
then old Father Christmas laughs
and slips into the living room.
His candle he takes down from his hat,
it sparkles and it burns;
with it he walks to the tree
and nods in the same moment,
immediately from each candle springs
a bright and lovely flame.

Glædelig jul og godt nytår! 🙂

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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.


Comments:

  1. Jo Alex SG:

    I still know very little but can understand the more obvious cognates with English and the German words I have learned. I didn´t know about this story and could find some verses sung and recited on videos on Youtube as well as some parts on other sites. Thank you so much for the lovely tip!
    Tak skal du have for det og Godt Nytår og hilsner fra Brasilien!

    • Bjørn A. Bojesen:

      @Jo Alex SG @Jo Alex – thank you v. much for your comment! 🙂 I’m impressed there are Danish learners in Brasilien. Glad you liked the tip. PS Sorry for replying so late; last time I checked the comments, I did not see yours. Don’t really know what happened. Godt nytår! 🙂