Center of Attention: Juletræet (The Christmas Tree)

Ahh...The Danish Christmas tree! A symbol of warmth, togetherness, and festive cheer, holds a special place in the hearts of Danes.

The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree in Denmark dates back to the 19th century when it was introduced from Germany. Initially, it gained popularity among the Danish elite, but it soon became a beloved custom embraced by families from all walks of life.

Today, the Christmas tree is an iconic symbol that heralds the arrival of the holiday season.

In Denmark, the quest for the perfect Christmas tree is an annual adventure. Families often venture to tree farms or local markets to handpick a spruce or fir that will stand tall and proud in their living rooms. Many families also enjoy the experience of cutting down their own tree, creating lasting memories and instilling a sense of tradition in the process.

The magic truly begins when the chosen tree is brought home, ready to be adorned with an array of ornaments, lights, and intricate decorations. Danish families often have a collection of cherished ornaments, some passed down through generations, each carrying sentimental value. Homemade decorations, crafted with care, also find a place on the tree, adding a personal touch to the festive display.

A distinctive feature of Danish Christmas tree decorations is the use of real candles. Traditional Christmas tree candles, carefully affixed to the branches, cast a warm, flickering glow that bathes the room in a soft, magical light. This centuries-old tradition adds a nostalgic touch to the modern festivities, harking back to simpler times.

However, in recent decades, many Danes have started using electric light strings instead of live candles due to the risk of fire. But in many places, the old tradition of using live candles on the Christmas tree is still adhered to. Often using candles that are self-extinguishing – and having a bucket of water near by just in case the manufacturer got it wrong.

Photo: © Kristian Krogh

The culmination of the Christmas tree tradition is the moment when the lights are first illuminated.

Typically, the tree is unveiled and lit on the evening of December 23rd, known as "Little Christmas Eve." Families gather around in anticipation, creating a special atmosphere as the room is enveloped in the radiant glow of the candles and lights.

Beneath the adorned branches, a Danish Christmas tree is never complete without gifts. On Christmas Eve, thoughtful presents are exchanged, but before that, after an elaborate Christmas dinner, the whole family joins hands and dances around the Christmas tree while singing traditional Christmas carols.

The evening is complete with festive treats enjoyed in the warm embrace of the tree's twinkling lights.

Glædelig jul! (Merry Christmas!)