Monday, November 23, 2009

Soon Christmas Again!

The first Christmas sight is already in the first days of November, when you see the trees packed and ready....

...............for being transported - here on a small truck -to the market places where they sell lots of firs in November and December.
Now its time for creating a cosy Christmas home and time for baking Christmas cakes. The house has to be decorated with Christmas tree and candles and decorations and pixies and hearts and stars etc................. but from where origins Christmas - and who is Father Christmas?

Christmas was originally a midwinter-feast which was transferred to the Christian church and changed into a feast for the birth of Jesus Christ. The Old Norse Jul was celebrated in January and the southern feast for sol invictus (the invincible sun god) was on the 25. December; therefore the Christmas of Christianity was placed at the same time. According to German and Nordic customs the feast was the night before. Actually it was a vigilie (night of wake) from the Catholic period, where people together waited for midnight and the celebration of mess, which was held at the moment of the Nativity.
The earliest known evidence about Jule-feast in the north is from ab. 900. Here is mentioned the Norse king Harald Fairhair and his son Hakon the Good (the first Christian king i Norway) in connection to Christmas. Harald Fairhair was known as a king, who swore not to cut his hair and beard, until he was king of the whole country. Hakon the Good was known as the king, who ordered the Norwegians to celebrate Christmas "at the same time as Christian men", which indicates that the Jul before Christianity arrived was placed at another and earlier time. The character of the Old Norse Jule-feast appears from the expression "to drink jul". Through centuries the clerical understanding of Jul or Christmas fought against the secular or popular understanding. The development of Christmas was marked by modern ideas through the times and many old customs have become a part of Christmas.

Father Christmas or Santa Claus... who brings Christmas gifts to the children. Father Christmas origins from aCatholic idea that the patron saint of children Sankt Nicolaus( Santa Claus) upon his Saint's day 6. December brings gifts to well-behaved children, while the naughty children are being spanked by his companion (German: Knecht Ruprecht, French: Pére Fouettard). The custom and the date origins from the 1200s. But it was not Sankt Nicolaus, who gave the idea for his red-white dress. In frescoes Sankt Nicolaus is never seen in red and white. His red dress, his reindeer-sleigh, the winter-background and his house at the North Pole are modern additions from the environment of the middle-class´Christmas books and similar things for children. In the first American pictures from the representation Santa Claus wore a fur coat; later he got his present dress, but it is first in the 20th century his dress turned red and white.
Advent the time from and with the 4th Sunday before Christmas until 24 December . From the 5th century celebrated as a preparation for Christmas. On the first Sunday of Advent the first of four candles is lit in the Adventskrans (garland), often a garland made of spruce and hung with red silken bands.

1. december
The Christmas calendar is popular with children. The first of 24 lids is being opened . The Christmas calendar has developed into a gift-calendar - sometimes in large proportions! The calendar candle is lit for the first time.

In December:
Many hangs a Christmas Star in the window. In gardens and on balconies are outdoors Christmas trees with lights the whole Christmas month and longer. Christmas decorations are made, i.e. a large candle encircled by spruce twigs , glass globes and other small Christmas things. And now it is the time for baking, especially the little cakes , i.e. vanila-cakes, brown cakes, small pepper biscuits, crullers etc. And it's time for the julegløgg. (mulled wine with raisina and almonds and various spices)

13. december. Lucia-Day
Lucia-procession where a so-called Lucia-brud (bride) in a long, white dress and with a garland of lit candles upon her hair, followed by white-dressed girls with a candle in their hand. This is a tradition which really brings joy to schools, kindergartens, old people's homes and at hospitals.

23. december. Lillejuleaften (Little Christmas Evening)
The Christmas tree is being decorated. - Many eat apple-cakes and drink gløgg.

24. december. Juleaften (Christmas Evening)
Many goes to church in the daytime. In the evening Christmas dinner, i.e. goose, duck or turkey - or roast pork or neck of pork. Dessert: mostly ris-á lá mande with cherry sauce and with an almond (he/she who gets the almond gets a gift).Dancing and singing around the Christmas tree. The only light in the house at that point are all the lit candles upon the tree and in the decorations. Handing out the gifts. The children are told that Father Christmas brought them!

25. december. Juledag (1. Christmas Day)
Holy Day. Family get-together. Det store kolde bord med små lune retter. (Cold dishes and small warm dishes) Drink: often the strong special Christmas beer. The start of the lunch is various herring with snaps.

26. december. Anden juledag (2. Christmas Day).
Holy Day. Family get-together. Again cold and warm dishes, but now at someone else's house!

Source: Jul i Dannevang 2009, Juleretter 1977, Mad og Bolig Dec. 1996.

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