Thursday, March 11, 2010

Return to the Holidays-Part 3- Deck the Halls

We have just begun the month of March. Soon, daffodils will be blooming by the hundreds on Daffodil Hill, not far from Sacramento. Yesterday, we had an hour of snow, a little rain, and this morning, sunshine. Denmark is just starting to warm up The pheasants are gathering around the bird seed that we sprinkle by the leafless bushes in our backyard. I think that all the little animals are beginning to celebrate. Rabbits jump over the snow and ice to eat the little green sprouts that are just beginning to grow.

All the moles in Denmark have left hundreds of ugly bumps of dirt as they get their first taste of soft dirt. (I don't know whether moles eat dirt). Here in Odense, moles do make "Mountains out of mole hills."

While I wait for spring, I want to hang on to our long white winter...and memories of our one and only Christmas in Denmark. When we leave at the end of July, we will have enjoyed two springs, and two summers, but we will only have one winter to remember. We hope that it lasts a bit longer. This is our "Winter House."

And this is our "almost spring house." I better hurry with these holiday posts before you think that it is still snowing in July. I have lots of memories and stories to tell before we leave at the end of July. Hope that I have the time to tell them.
As many of you know, I play Christmas music all year around here. Join me with a collection of Jule memories, from Scandinavia. Here the Jule tide was celebrated long before it became "Christ's Mass."

In the beginning of December, the darkest month of the year, the Danes begin to "deck the halls" and windows with candle light and tiny ornaments. Centuries before Christmas, these dark days were known as "Jule." (Yule) .During, what is called the winter solstice, fathers and sons dragged the biggest log that they could find into their cottages. As long as the Jule log burned (about twelve days) there would be a great feast and party. While the Candles burned in the windows the chilly darkness stayed outside.
During this part of December we began to gather old Danish Christmas things from some of our favorite "Genbrugs" (gen-brew) or thrift stores.

We found the most wonderful bargains. In our favorite Genbrug...we found two tables full of Christmas Past. We filled two baskets with hand sewn table runners, lights (very expensive when new), hand crocheted Christmas doilies, and white Scandinavian paper stars. When we got to the counter, the cashier didn't want to count each item. She charged us $15 for both boxes full of Christmas treasures. She had no idea how many great ornaments, candle holders, wire, and Christmas textiles that we had found.

The Early Morning Seminary class gave us this candle advent calendar. Each day we lit a new candle.

I created a wall hanging advent calendar with Genbrug Christmas fabric and clothespin numbers. We have no fireplace for a Jule log, but we filled our little cottage with lots of color and lights. Our danish cat had never seen such a warm, cozy Jule.

At one Genbrug we found a tiny tree covered with straw stars and topped with a little glass bird with a broken tail and a broken beak. If you look closely you can see a tiny doll with curled ribbon hair. I found some clothes pin santas and a traditional straw goat.

Click on this picture and you will see lots of little Danish memories that will come home with us.. some of them we will leave out all year. The elf with the fury face in the right bottom corner was a memory from Tivoli in Copenhagen. Our cat likes to attack its real wool beard.
The red and white striped elves joined us from the Hans Christian Andersen village long before Christmas. They all gather around several Danish Flags..a favorite Christmas decoration here.

Our Christmas tree was topped with a glittered star from the Pajama Day at the Stitchin Post in Sisters, Oregon.
The ribboned ornaments were given to me by my mother...pins that she loved to wear. There were white paper stars, a locket with photos of Stephanie, Tina, and Nick that I gave mother years ago. There were paper angels with tiny faces and little brass cones that the Danes fill with Christmas candy.

Our table was set with small trees, and an embroidered table runner from our Pajama Day at the Stitchin Post.

Our good friends, the Benny Madsen family, gave us some real candles and silver candle holders to hang on our little tree. We brought a planter in from our backyard for the base and covered it with a lacy table cloth.

This little nativity was here in our window when we came with a ceramic Easter bunny. The little chubby danish doll came from our Genbrug. I found two little straw pigs to go with her.

This straw star of David was a perfect decoration for our door window. Love this snow scene in our backyard.

When Kathy was here, she organized Brother Riedel's German books according to the colors of the rainbow. (thank you Kathy- we didn't know what to do with a library of German Books)
We hung two Danish stockings up and put the most wonderful little tree next to our Christus. The tree is a hand blown green glass tree, with individual glass ornaments. It is a gift from the Riedels, our friends and landlords.

Last summer, brother Riedel asked us if we wanted this bright red old fashioned chair in our very beige cottage. We love it... especially during the Christmas Holidays.

Many of these little treasures come from the Genbrug. I purchased the felted balls on our candle holder from the Stitchin post. When I was looking for something to give to our Elders, Sisters and friends for Christmas,
Cindy told us about the gifts that they gave in Siberia. They bought pairs of stockings, put one inside of the other, and then filled them with treats. We did this...white stockings for the girls, and black stockings for the boys. It was a great idea. Thank you Cindy and Doug. We get lots of ideas from Siberia.

During the darkest time of the year, we had a very warm, happy Jule. Candles and twinkle lights can still be found when we drive through Odense at night. We all want to hang on to the warmth of the Holidays.

--Karsten Rasmussen (a new member this year) at a Christmas ward party
In the next "Return to the Holidays" post you will meet "Santa Lucia" and see a thousand torches of light on the streets of Odense.


  1. What wonderful treasures and memories! I can already see them in your Sacramento house. I think we will need a Danish Christmas cousins camp some summer

  2. Everything looks soooooo beautiful. You make your home lovely wherever you are. Glad you found the sock idea useful. Our missionaries liked it again this year. Hope we can have a visit before we leave. We're less than six weeks from departure. We're staying focused, but still making plans for going home. When can we talk?
    Love from the land of snow, ice, slush, mud, fog, and a really big wind yesterday, Me

  3. I stumbled on your blog today! Loved skimming through all of the posts and pictures! Our son is Elder Clayton. I can see why he enjoyed his time in Odense so much! Thanks for sharing!