’tis the season

I’ve been absent from this blog for much too long. I’ve been away on my Erasmus-year, a study abroad program in the European Union. I live in Edinburgh now. I’ve been busy as all hell, with classes, new friends, a new city and about a million papers to write.

It’s the Advent season now. In Denmark we celebrate it, although I’m not sure that’s the correct term to describe what is theologically a season of sorrow. We assemble wreaths and plant candles in them, four for each Sunday of the Advent. When I was little my mother and I would sing a song as we lighted the candles, first one, then two, then three and finally all four. Each candle symbolised a good quality; hope, mercy, love and  kindness.

Advent Wreath

This wreath carries on in the tradition of using purple in Advent decorations. Traditionally, purple has been the colour of Christian mourning, and the Advent season is one for mourning Jesus’ death. The days between Christmas Eve and Twelfth Night are the days to be happy and rejoice in. This meaning has nearly been lost but when advent wreaths where introduced to Denmark, from Germany (like the Christmas Tree), around the time of the First World War they were almost exclusively kept in purple. Nowadays, the most normal colours to decorate one’s wreath in are red and white (thanks, Coca-Cola).

WWII era stamp depicting an advent wreath

This stamp from 1946, just after the end of the Second World War, depicts an Advent wreath hanging from the ceiling. I’ve previously posted about St. Lucia and how the celebrations surrounding this tradition uplifted the Danish nation in a time of war. The advent wreath is another symbol of the light shining in the darkness.

Around Christmas time most cities also undergo a makeover. These images are from Copenhagen.

Photo: Brian Bergmann/Scanpix 2006

(Can you tell I’m homesick?)

This Lucia-crown is very modern. It's quite lovely, no?

 

I wrote about St. Lucia and the strange case of a Catholic saint being celebrated in Protestant Scandinavia here. How sad that this is almost a year ago and still on my first page. I promise not to neglect my poor blog anymore.

 

Another Yuletide favourite. I'm not entirely sure what honeycakes have in common with Christmas, except for the Santa, or sometimes angel, they stamp onto them. They're usually only sold around Christmas, which is a shame, since they're very good.

 

That’s a bit about Christmas in Denmark. Maybe next time I update it will be about Christmas in Edinburgh?

 

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