The Danish Christmas cuisine is part of a long-standing tradition dating back many centuries and is an important part of the Danish cultural heritage, which reflects a strong agricultural past. For many Danes, the traditional Danish Christmas food plays an immense role during the festive season as the fun and hygge with dear friends at Christmas lunches and parties often revolves around the Christmas food as a start. It is a time to enjoy delightful Christmas dishes that eventually leads to the big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.
The traditional Danish Christmas dinner usually consists of different kinds of oven-roasted meats, usually pork, duck, or goose with pickled and fermented vegetables on the side. Red cabbage, pickled cucumbers and caramelised potatoes are must-haves to accompany these. For dessert, most people go for the Ris á la Mande, an updated version of traditional rice porridge.
This is how Bettina Buhl, Food Historian at The Green Museum, describes it:
“Danish Christmas food is very much related to the time when we were mostly farmers. It consists of farm animals and quite everyday ingredients. With the evolution of bigger cities such as Copenhagen, the older food traditions were refined and made more luxurious as living standards improved. But still with the same base of products.”
Even though the dishes on Christmas Eve are rather traditional, some local restaurants are, of course, taking the local Christmas cuisine in new directions. Especially the Christmas lunch, which is closely related to the tradition of smørrebrød, and locally brewed Christmas beer is often and happily reinterpreted.
“In December before Christmas Eve, the Danes are usually more willing to experiment with the food. This is obvious especially in the many restaurants in Copenhagen serving smørrebrød in new and exciting ways” Bettina Buhl adds.