Danes start celebrations early during festive season

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 December, 1999, 12:00am

There are a lot of differences between Christmas in Hong Kong and Denmark. Christmas is a very important festival in Denmark, even more important than New Year, and there are a lot of Christmas traditions.

Four weeks before Christmas Eve, the Danes begin to celebrate Christmas by lighting up one of the Advent candles, a traditional decoration put up in Denmark every year before Christmas.

There are four candles and one is lit each weekend. On the last weekend before Christmas, all four candles would have been lit.

The Danes put up Christmas trees with beautiful lights in front of their houses. They also have Advent calendars for children. From the first of December, children get a small present from their parents every day, until December 24.

Meanwhile, teenagers take on the role of julenissens, Santa's helpers in Danish fairy- tales, and give a classmate a present or greeting card.

On Christmas Eve, the whole family gets together for a big meal. Ris is manden is served for dessert. There will be an almond in one or two servings of the dessert. If you get the almond, you have to hide it. After the meal, the cook, usually the mother, will ask who has the almond, and whoever does will get a small present.

After dinner, the family will sing and dance around the Christmas tree which is illuminated with candles. It is a really warm and happy festival.

Chi-man is an exchange student from Hong Kong