It’s happening. Christmas cheer is knocking on my doorstep. There’s cookies, æbleskiver, gløgg, and other tooth-melting treats everywhere and I never say no to sugar. Like, seriously, never! But that’s alright, because big, thick sweaters don’t just keep you warm in the winter, they also hide that extra inch of belly, so The International Extraordinaire can continue eating this slice of pumpkin pie.
The winter holidays in most of the Western world (I’m making a very calculated assumption at least) is a time of some serious, hardcore eating. Denmark is no different. In fact, I’d say if eating was a marathon, Denmark competes in nothing less than the Ironman triathlon.
In essence, that is what a Julefrokost is. The (in)famous Danish Christmas Lunch is a triathlon that usually begins with herring, moves on to duck, and ends with rice pudding. Sometimes there are varying foods than this and possibly way more courses, like cheese and crackers before dessert, shrimp and smoked salmon before or after the herring, etc, etc… On top of all that, during and in between each course, there will be enough beer, schnaps and wine to drown a viking ship. Most Danes will get invited to no less than six of these lunches starting from the end of November to the middle of January, since they will probably have one with different circle of friends, colleagues, and family. Yeah, it gets pretty darn intense. If you’re an international and you’re staying in Denmark for the holidays, you’ll need a survival guide. So, in the spirit of holiday giving, I present you with…
The top five ways YOU can survive Danish Julefrokost:
I know I said it’s a marathon, but it’s really not a race against time. Eat at your own pace and take smaller portions, even if the Vikings next to you are piling it on their plate. You might be worried about offending your host, but I think it’d be more offensive if you were to get sick and puke in their Christmas tree.
Don’t shoot the schnaps
I’m from two cultures where if something’s in a shot glass, you knock that crap back in one go. This is a bad idea at Julefrokost, because as soon as your glass is empty, it WILL be refilled and there WILL be multiple toasts given. Please see tip #1 about puking in trees.
Learn to say No!
You don’t have to say yes to EVERY Julefrokost that you’re invited to. First of all, ain’t nobody got time for that and second, on a student budget, it’s just not possible to afford it. Even if each lunch only costs 50 kr., it definitely adds up.
Never EVER drink frozen schnaps
Denmark gets cold. Cold enough to use your balcony as a spacious icebox. At times, even cold enough to freeze your alcohol. If this happens, for the love of all that is good and holy, be patient enough to let it thaw out. You see, when liquor freezes, it is the water content that freezes and the alcohol that does not freeze. If you drink frozen schnaps, you will probably go blind.
Don’t get in the way of a competitive Dane
This is not only relevant to the eating and the drinking, if there is a gift game, and a Dane wants to win, they will forget they ever knew you. they will be ruthless. They will win, dammit!
Never drink herbed schnaps
Just don’t. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s not.