Five of the Most Delightful Danish Christmas Traditions

Across Denmark, the festive season is greeted with tremendous enthusiasm. Picturesque snowy landscapes, cosy homes, indulgent food and drink, seasonal entertainment, a great deal of Christmas spirit and many well-loved traditions make the country a particularly magical place to be at this time of year.


While the main Danish celebrations take place on Christmas Eve (a day earlier than in some other countries, such as the US and UK), there’s plenty to enjoy throughout December. If you’re planning a festive trip to Denmark or want to enjoy a delightful Danish-style Christmas at home, read on for our guide to major Danish Christmas traditions.

The following seasonal customs are close to our hearts, as Bodum is a Danish brand. Our story began in 1944 in Copenhagen, which is not only Denmark’s capital but also one of the world’s most Christmassy cities. Now we’re a truly international brand with customers in over 50 countries – and we still love to celebrate our Danish heritage.

  1. Counting Down the Days till Christmas
    During the countdown to Christmas from 1-24 December, every day is special in Danish households. Many families light a Christmas calendar candle each morning. This traditional candle, often decorated with festive Danish images including pine sprays and elves, has the dates printed on it. Each night, the flame is blown out as it reaches the next date.

    Another favourite decoration in Denmark is the Advent wreath. Danish versions typically consist of spruce cuttings, red berries and four white candles (one is lit each Sunday in the run-up to Christmas), hanging from the ceiling with red ribbons. Red and white is a popular colour scheme for Christmas decorations; it echoes the national flag. In fact, mini Danish flags are often seen on Christmas trees, as are red-and-white woven hearts.

    Danish Christmas calendars bring joy to children. They’re more exciting than the chocolate-filled Advent calendars found elsewhere, as they contain 24 surprise gifts. They don’t always resemble conventional calendars. Some families make them extra special by placing the gifts in numbered stockings.

  2. Admiring Handmade Crafts at Christmas Markets
    Denmark is famous for its traditional Christmas street markets, where festive spirit meets fine craftsmanship. These bustling events possess an old-fashioned, rustic charm. The stalls often look like log cabins, and you’ll find many handmade items for sale (think wooden ornaments, knitwear and leather goods). You can keep warm while you shop by drinking gløgg (Danish mulled wine).

    Christmas markets are often held in stunning locations, such as Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. The famous amusement park is popular with Denmark’s residents and tourists alike. Its market is accompanied by incredible illuminations and festive entertainment.

  3. Preparing a Treat for the House Elves
    Risengrød (Danish rice pudding, topped with sugar, cinnamon and butter) is a popular treat at Christmastime. When families make risengrød, they often save a bowl for their house elves – or ‘nisser’ – to enjoy. The nisser are creatures of folklore that are believed to help or hinder you, depending on whether or not you show them your appreciation. If you forget to offer them risengrød on ‘Little’ Christmas Eve (23 December), you might make them angry.

    It’s particularly important to keep the nisser on your side as Christmas approaches. They help Julemanden (Denmark’s version of Santa Claus) to deliver presents!

    If you’d like to try this Danish delight, check out the risengrød recipe on our blog.

  4. Enjoying a Festive Feast with Family and Friends
    If you’re spending Christmas in Denmark, make sure you have a big appetite!

    Christmas dinner is served on Christmas Eve in Danish households. For the main course, roast duck stuffed with prunes and apples is preferred. Traditional accompaniments include red cabbage, beetroot, caramelised potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. Denmark’s Christmas dessert is risalamande, made with risengrød, chopped almonds, vanilla sugar, cream and cherry sauce. (You can discover how to make risalamande on our blog.)

    If you’re lucky enough to find a whole almond in your serving of risalamande, you win the ‘almond present’: a marzipan pig.

    There’s a seemingly endless supply of sweet treats, such as gingerbread, shortbread, vanilla biscuits and spiced brown biscuits. Families often set aside a whole day in December for baking festive goodies.

  5. Singing and Dancing around the Christmas Tree
    After Christmas dinner, it’s customary for everyone to join hands, sing carols and dance around the Christmas tree. The atmosphere is charming and convivial: the very essence of ‘hygge’ (a Danish word used to describe cosiness and contentment).

    Next the presents are unwrapped one by one (Danish families like to take their time with this festive ritual). Gratitude is expressed, and then the celebrations continue.

  6. Celebrate Christmas with Our Advent Calendar
    Inspired by Denmark’s Christmas calendars, we’re celebrating with the Bodum Advent Calendar. It features an exclusive special offer every day until Christmas to make shopping for gifts even easier. Simply visit our website to discover the latest offer.

    All of us at Bodum wish you a happy Christmas – or as they say in Denmark, glædelig Jul!

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