God Jul: Christmas spirit in Scandinavia

Living in Canada, this is what I used to associate Christmas with: vacation pay, boxing day, Home Alone marathons, and postcards from friends. If you haven’t been raised celebrating Christmas, it’s pretty easy to escape the holiday fever in Toronto (except when I worked in retail and Christmas carols were even playing in my nightmares).

God JulBut, not in Scandinavia. You can try to be the Grinch, but the Christmas spirit will make its way into your home and heart.

Denmark kicks off the God Jul celebrations with J-day on the first weekend of November by launching the annual Christmas beer. It’s a strong brew that’s modelled on a luxury beer. I am not surprised to see that the launch of a beer is a national event in Denmark – bars are brimming, trucks are distributing free beer and swag on the busy streets, and everyone is having a jolly good time to get the mood for God Jul.

Soon after the that, the Christmas lights start popping up and just last weekend, Aarhus’s official Christmas tree made its debut outside of City Hall.

Here’s how my friends and I have been getting in the festive spirit over the last month:

Christmas shopping 

With one of our housemates leaving for the warm heart of Africa at the end of November, we had to get in shopping mode pretty early on. Luckily, all of Aarhus seemed to be in shopping mode. One of my favourite stores, Søstrene Grene, looks like Santa’s factory with the most festive decorations I have ever seen.

Sostrene grene ornaments

[Very] early Christmas dinner

As mentioned before, since our dear Nina was leaving much earlier than all of us, we needed to have a family Christmas dinner before putting her on a plane to Africa. So we put our culinary skills to the test and whipped up a pretty good student-style Christmas dinner. Sonja’s chicken and Nina’s apple crisp were the big winners of the night.

Here we are, looking all dolled up and festive (and hungry):


Christmas market

My friends, Cat and Sanda, visited me last weekend from London and Gothenburg, respectively. Even before Cat got here, she had done her research and really wanted to go to a Christmas market, which I didn’t even know existed. So, during our Aarhus city tour we stumbled upon a cozy Christmas market with the cutest gifts.

Christmas market

If folks are interested in visiting, the Byens Julemarked is on until December 21st.

IMG_9801LReditGothenburg’s beautiful lights

National Geographic Magazine included Gothenburg in the top 10 places to see holiday lights. Lucky for me, I was in Gothenburg last weekend, and…

1) It was absolutely freezing.

2) The lights are totally stunning.

Despite being tired from a long weekend and a longer travel day, we battled the -10 degree temperature to take in the warm lights of this city.


Since I was in Sweden, I had to try some glögg a.k.a. hot mulled wine. We sipped on this traditional Christmas drink at my friend Sanda’s cozy house and she served it with almond shavings and raisins. Yummmm….


Gingerbread cookies

What do you do when it’s Christmas season and it’s absolutely freezing outdoors? You stay inside and make some gingerbread cookies! That’s exactly what I did at Sanda’s place in Gothenburg when it was too cold to step outside of the house.

Gingerbread cookie making

And since I am the most easily excitable person I know, I got very excited with the cookie-making process. There’s me working on my heart-shaped cookie:

Roop gingerbread

And now it’s exam time, so all the festivities will have to take a back seat while I write about cultural imperialism, BRIC nations, and user generated content. However, I hope this put you in a bit of a holiday mood (if you weren’t already).

Happy holidays everyone! Lots of Xs and Os and best wishes to all my friends, family and readers from Aarhus.


5 responses

  1. I thought I recognized the God Jul block letters and then saw that you love Søstrene Grene too! It is a great store. For me, I think the Aarhus Christmas is kind of understated and not as much Christmasy as my Connecticut Christmases.

  2. Pingback: Christmas Markets in Hamburg « roopgill

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