These stories of the celebration of the Christmas season were found in an old booklet called, “Christmas Around the World!”
It is about 100 years old or older. It came from the library of John A. Walston who was my husband’s grandfather. I have had it in my possession for about fifty years.
While things change and people certainly do, we can get a glimpse of the “good ole days” through these stories. Written more than a century before the Internet, we can learn the way children celebrated Christmas in those along ago days. “Christmas ain’t what it used to be.”
This booklet attributes no author, no date of publication and no Library of Congress information. It may at one time have been printed by someone who prepared and published it just for their own enjoyment and the enjoyment of their loved ones.
But here it is today – fresh - from the old yellowed pages.
Below is the Foreword just as it was written on page one.
“Charles Dickens ends his immortal ‘Christmas Carol” speaking of the regeneration of Ebenezer Scrooge: “For it was said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well.” The purpose of this little book is to speak of the Nations of the World and how they, too, “Knew how to keep Christmas well.”
“It is impossible to cover all the traditions of all the regions of the different countries and it is quite possible that some mentioned here will not be recognized by the natives of those countries.”
“One theme, however, has been striven for and an attempt made to maintain. It is that the underlying symbol of the Season, whether the source of inspiration be the pagan Yule and Saturnalia, or the Christian form of the Birth of Our Savior, is the symbol of LIGHT.
The Light of the Winter Solstice and return of the Sun, and the Light of the Star of Bethlehem: That whenever Christmas makes it appearance around the world there, also, the Light appears: “the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the World.”
Christmas in Denmark: Straight from the booklet
“The essence of the Danish Christmas is the Season of “Jul.” when the Viking and Norse roared his approval of the Winter Solstice and the hours of the Sun began lengthening in its battle against the Frost King.
Around huge fires they sang, drank, and instituted ceremonial and tribal customs that present themselves across the centuries as a rich tapestry through which run a series of motifs observed in all the Christmas customs of the Scandinavian and Northern European peoples, and display themselves in traditional food, songs, and personalities.
To many Danes the character that remains strongest in the memories of childhood is the “Jul-Nisse,” the benevolent little old man of the attic. He is a member of the household and is seen by no one except the family cat.
Sometimes mischievous and responsible for many “odd” happenings in the house for which no accounting is forthcoming from the members of the family.
Dwelling in the loft; or attic, his duty is to the animals of the farm; to see they are watered, tended and bedded when neglected.
Christmas Ever, before going to bed, the Danish children will ascend the stair to place a bowl of porridge and a pitcher of milk at the attic entrance. Next morning they will rush to see if it has been eaten.
It always has!” ~~~~~
Today, we could equate this to all sorts of ideas that children have today like Santa watching to see if they are good or bad, or like having a guardian angel to watch over them. The Danish children felt that the animals, which were so important to the farm, should have someone watching over them as well.
In our Christian faith, we know that we always have someone watching over us and that is the reason we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus.
In the Old Testament, centuries before Jesus was born God said in Deuteronomy 31:16,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The Christ child left the manager and became a man and that man paid the price for salvation unto all men; and Jesus reiterated those words: I (He) will never leave you nor forsake you.
For more current information on how the Danish celebrate Christmas check out this link.
Another link of Danish Christmas Traditions can be found here.