Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Vacation
The Last School Day in the Old Days

Old village school, Hodde, Jutland/photo 1999: gb

Until the reformation 1536 the apostle Thomas was celebrated with a mass every year on December 21st, which was named Sct. Thomasdag. Almost up to the present the 21st of December was celebrated in a Danish school. This day was the last day at school before the Christmas vacations. The pupils - who else were taught a strict discipline every day - were allowed to chatter, make noise and play as much as they liked.

The evening before they were prepared for the feast day with a thorough bath, a haircut and they had a look at their fine new Sunday's best. Next morning on the 21st they put on their new clothes and had to hurry as much as possible to be at school as the very first - for if they were the last pupil arriving on that special day they would get a nickname and be teased in a good-natured manner the whole next year.
The schoolroom had been cleaned the day before, which was rather unsual at that time. The pupils brought gifts to the teacher like a few skilling (Old Danish coin), Christmas bread, beer, snaps, candles and other natural produce which actually was some sort of bonus or supplement to the teacher's miserable pay. In the village school the vicar and his wife arrived with cakes and æbleskiver (round apple cakes fried in a special pan) , with some mead for the girls and some syrup snaps for the older boys. All the pupils had their yearly grade book and if the report was good they showed it to everyone hoping to get a few pence.

source: Ruth Gunnarsen/ Familiens højtider i gamle dage

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