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Keeping Danish 'Jul' traditions

Expats often say that repatriation to your home country is the hardest part of the adventure. Shani Bishop shares her repat journey with us.

Photographs: iStock

Text: Shani Bishop

Last Christmas we had a sort of English Christmas in Denmark when we didn’t go home. This year we will have a sort of Danish Christmas in the UK. Last year I couldn’t get turkey, so we had chicken instead.

I’m looking forward to eating turkey again this year. In the UK you can eat Christmas dinner any time you like because many restaurants and pubs offer it on the run-up to the big day.

Danish traditions we will keep

One Danish tradition we loved was eating Risalamande. The kids loved waiting to see who had found the whole almond - I think we will do this on Christmas Eve like in Denmark. Unfortunately, marzipan pigs are not plentiful here, so I plan to fashion one out of marzipan with the help of a YouTube video.

"One Danish tradition we loved was eating Risalamande. The kids loved waiting to see who had found the whole almond ."

I massively over brought Danish Christmas tree decorations in Denmark. We have lots of cute Danish flags and all sorts of glittery Brink Nordic delights, which will appear on the tree. This year we will have a full-sized real tree, our first one in 5 years, so I’m really looking forward to that. I love the smell, the glitter and the colour. In Denmark, all Christmas trees wear white lights - in the UK, there is a multitude of colours and variety. John Lewis, a nice department store here, is decked out in pink and green this year. In addition, all the department stores here released a Christmas advert. These cinematic style adverts are really glamorous and do a great job of tugging at your heart strings.

Pebernødder. We all love these little ginger biscuits, so with 15 packets of Dr Oetker Pebernød mix in the cupboard, there will be plenty for Christmas this year and next! I plan to make some for guests, some for gifts, and cover others in chocolate like the ones from Irma. Yum!

The Norwegian gift

Every year Norway gives an enormous Christmas tree to the UK. It is a gift to the people of Britain from Norway as a token of gratitude for British support to Norway during the Second World War. This huge tree sits in Trafalgar Square in London and is a focal point for carol singing throughout Christmas. Last year when everyone couldn’t gather the Mayor of London and Oslo made a film about the tradition. It was fantastic to see how the tree was chosen from so many and transported to London. Read the story of “The history behind the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree” here to learn more.

London is a great place to visit at Christmas. The angel lights along Regents Street are always phenomenal. I’ll also be heading for Covent Garden and Carnaby Street. Department stores such as Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges and Hamleys have fantastic window displays to see. I also want to visit the huge Waterstones books shop as it’s like Aladdin’s cave.

The run-up to Christmas

I really enjoy the few months before Christmas. There are usually many events in our village: Victorian Christmas fair, a Christmas tree display, and lots of local fairs and concerts to enjoy. Light festivals seem to be very popular here, with many happening in London and locally. After five years away, just seeing family will be the greatest gift. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!

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