Danish word of the day: Julekalender

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Danish word of the day: Julekalender

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

Advent calendars in Denmark come in all shapes, sizes and formats.


What is a julekalendar?

Julekalender is a relatively straightforward word to decipher. It's a compound of the Danish words for Christmas (jul) and calendar (kalender). Put together, they mean Christmas calendar, but more accurately translate to advent calendar.  

As with most advent calendars, they begin on December 1st and end on the day when the country celebrates Christmas. In Denmark, this is Christmas Eve, December 24th. 


What really sets Danish Christmas calendars apart from the rest is that they don't just come in the form of little boxes containing chocolates or small gifts. 

They also come in other formats, most notably the Scandinavian tradition of julekalender televisiona shows. Norway, Sweden and Denmark all these popular festive mini-series, with short episodes which are broadcast each day and are aimed at adults and children alike. 

Why do I need to know julekalendar?

These short blasts of Christmas cheer are a much-loved tradition in Denmark, and many will watch the advent show they grew up with every year into adulthood. 

You might have heard of some of the more famous ones including Jul på Vesterbro, Jesus og Josephine and Alletiders jul.

By far the most famous though is The Julekalender, produced and performed by comedy writing trio De Nattergale in 1991. Some of the characters (the nisser or elves, to be specific) speak in an invented and very funny blend of English and Danish. As a result, the series became very quotable and has become a staple part of Christmas culture in Denmark.

Public broadcaster DR shows classic and new julekalendere on its website each Christmas. 


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