Are we lacking in festive traditions? Could we learn from the Danes & others?

I’ve just arrived back from experiencing Christmas and New Years of a different kind and it has left me wondering whether we as Australians are losing our identity and our historical sense of tradition?

Christmas this year for me was spent in Denmark on the opposite end of the world.  It was cold and it was damp but none of that stopped the Danes from celebrating their wonderful traditions in the way they have for hundreds of years.

Here’s how traditions work over there. The day before Christmas Eve, which is their Christmas Day, the tree is decorated by the whole family, not just left to mum to put up on her own.

The morning of Christmas Eve, the kids wake up, everyone’s at home but there’s no bolting to the tree to see what Santa’s delivered, the kids must wait till after Christmas dinner.  This was the only part of the process that I thought was a little tough.

Lunch on the day is not the big deal, it’s the dinner that’s the true Christmas affair, and I’m not religious but I enjoyed heading to church in the afternoon where many other families were together before heading home to begin the real festivities.

A quick dance around the tree holding hands with the family, singing songs I couldn’t understand was another tradition I’d never known.  Another moment of proper family celebration.

A traditional Christmas dinner was had which ends in the kids finally allowed to run to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had left.  I must admit, this is a true test of endurance for Danish kids but I guess they’ve never known the alternative that we have.

The following day, being the 25th and what they call their 2nd Christmas day is the opportunity to have another family meal and more time spent together. I love the fact that they stretch out the Christmas festivities rather than jamming it all into one day like we do over here.

Boxing Day is a holiday but few people are racing off on holiday as many of us do, tired, exhausted and stressed to get away.  It’s yet another day that can be spent visiting more family or extending the time spent with those there.

On New Years Eve, many Danes spend the night as a family once again, with the main event on the schedule starting with everyone gathered around the TV, kids as well, to watch the Queen’s speech which is a very thoughtful and directive look at the year gone by, and what the Danes as a collective should consider improving for the New Year.

I couldn’t help but think how nice it was for a whole country to have the respect they seem to have for their Queen and the focus they have on celebrating being a Dane.

A kids party was organized for the little ones so they could enjoy the spirit of the night, including their own mini fireworks show before being bundled off to bed for the adults version got under way.

The kids aren’t simply removed on the night because everyone wants to get pissed; they’re treated with the same respect so they enjoy an exciting night, as they should.

Minutes before the clock chimes midnight, once again we all gathered around the TV to watch the celebrations unfolding in the city.  Another tradition being that the Danes jump into the New Year, jumping literally off a chair, with positivity and hope, rather than skulling another bottle of beer before launching themselves at someone for a kiss.

I love Australia as most of us do, but I think we’re losing sight of tradition. I sometimes think that we use the excuse of our great weather as a reason just to sit outside and have another drink.  Traditions are a healthy part of life and create memories for our kids that they deserve.  And we as adults should enjoy a sense of patriotism that seems to be declining in the past years.

10 thoughts on “Are we lacking in festive traditions? Could we learn from the Danes & others?

  1. Message Body:
    Hi Amber,
    As a true tradionalist when it comes to Christmas with all the trimmings etc, I loved your article on the Christmas & New Year in Denmark.
    You didn’t mention what the traditional Christmas dinner food was. I’d love to know.

  2. Amber Petty
    Jan 20 (3 days ago)

    to Shirley
    Hello Shirley,

    I love to hear that you enjoyed my traditions column. Thank you! So the food was very similar to those if us here who do the roast vegetables and meat but on New Years Eve it seems to be traditional to eat cod, which is covered in a thick creamy sauce. I think the sauce might be to disguise its taste. An acquired taste I must say. It was just a wonderful time Shirley and I’m very grateful to have a few nice ideas tha I might try to introduce to our festivities next year.

    Have a wonderful 2013 and thank you for taking the time to write to me.


  3. Message Body:
    Hi Amber,

    Some years ago I wrote to you ( and my brother )regarding an article you wrote in the Advertiser regarding not needing babies to make your life complete, which you kindly responded to.

    Well, I’ve fianlly found out how to contact you as I don’t do Twitter or Facebook ( no, I’m not a stalker, just someone who values a realist )so I can comment on your articles.

    Without sounding like a sycophant, I love your writing style, you are open about your experiences, you don’t try to make it like everything in life is rosy or was easy for you and you have down to earth topics that most of us can relate to.

    It’s not often that you can relate to someone as much in the media as so many of them are trying to live up to an image, you are just being yourself, it is so refreshing.

    Keep up the good work, now that your column is online, I can read it every Wednesday on my Smartphone.

    All the Best,


    This mail is sent via contact form on Amber Petty

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