Last week, my mom and aunt visited, and I was extremely excited to show them around Copenhagen. They arrived in the middle of a transitioning time in the city. Because the Danes don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, there is a rather abrupt shift from Halloween and autumn-related decorations in all of the shops and restaurants to Christmastime. Now, when you walk down Strøget, the main pedestrian shopping street, every other store you pass has widows filled with beautiful lights and other Christmas decor. There are several shops selling beautiful ornaments, garlands and other unique and festive knick knacks.
I took my mom and aunt to Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s famous harbor with all of the colorful restauraunts, townhouses and cafes lining the street. Nyhavn’s Christmas Market just opened the day before my mom and aunt left. It was filled with open air stalls selling everything from hand made glass ornaments, to aged cheese, to gløgg, which is hot mulled wine. The vendors offer free samples to everyone who walks by, so you are able to try a little bit of everything. One of my favorite treats was æbleskiver, a delicious danish pastry. Nyhavn was lined with garlands covered in twinkling lights, and a man played the song “Once Upon A December” on the accordion as we strolled through. You could truly feel the Christmas spirit, and see the joy on people’s faces at this bustling Christmas market.
One thing my mom noticed and loved about her visit was how many people she saw eating outside at restaurants at night. It is starting to get colder in Copenhagen, and is often rainy. Additionally, it now gets dark at about 4 pm. However, Danish people still manage to get outside in the evenings, rather than hunkering down in their rooms and watching television. They sit with warm blankets at candlelit tables, and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. Instead of hiding from the cold, they embrace it.
Traditions such as the Christmas markets and outdoor restaurants embody the Danish concept of hygge. Although the temperature hovers around 40 degrees now and the days are getting quite short, Danes remain impressively cozy and happy by creating a cheerful, festive atmosphere at this time of year.