Påske: Danish Easter

I hope everyone has enjoyed the Easter break and long weekend. I love Easter. It has always been a time I’ve spent with my family – both Richie’s and mine. So I knew, unless we had some plans, it could potentially be a time I would become homesick. I’m happy to say, this didn’t happen and we thoroughly enjoyed our first Påske!

Five-day break

Firstly, to make Danish Easter even more welcoming, the Danes include Maundy Thursday (Skætorsdag) as a bank holiday so it’s a five-day break. Great thinking Denmark.

Shut up shop

During this time, most places shut. You won’t find cafes trading as usual or the supermarkets open. So everyone stocks up on supplies. It’s the same at Christmas apparently. There are occasional supermarkets open but you’ll have to search. Despite us doing a big shop on Wednesday, we ran out of milk by Monday. I found a Netto open and walked in to find chaos. Everyone was in there. There were no baskets or trolleys left, most of the shelves were empty and people were grabbing the last items off the shelves. It was not an experience I’d want to repeat, with a huge pushchair in tow. Let’s just say bread was used to bribe Lydia as I had to mount the bottom shelves just to squeeze through the crowds. I also learnt I’m not pronouncing ‘brød’ (bread) correctly. When said bread fell on the floor and I couldn’t reach it, I got very confused looks as I said ‘brød’ and pointed. I say it like bru(l). The ‘d’ is is pronounced like a non existent ‘l’, where your tongue sits between a ‘d’ and an ‘l’. The ø is like uu. Basically it feels like you’re just about to throw up and splutter out a br….u..l..d… (shh i didn’t say d). Except this isn’t working for me so I need a new technique.

Church

Coming from a family of Bishop Dad and Vicar Mum, church featured a lot in my childhood Easters. As an adult, I haven’t attended church as much and the reality of our Easter Day morning here, was catching up on sleep after a very broken night with Lydia. Denmark is a Christian country and has a state church called the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. But it seems church-going across the Easter period in Denmark, isn’t the reason for the five-day break or shops shutting down. According to a national survey taken in 2000; 48% of Danes think spending time with the family is particularly important during Easter; 37% regard it as a holiday; 10% mentioned ‘attending Church’ and ‘the Christian message’ as the main feature of Easter. (http://denmark.dk/en/meet-the-danes/traditions/easter)

Påskefrokost – Easter lunch.

My Dad’s cousin Anne, lives in a wonderful apartment in Christianshavn. On Good Friday (Langfredag), she hosted a traditional Easter lunch, which in Danish is called Påskefrokost. It includes bread, eggs, salmon, prawns, herring, lamb, frikadeller (meatballs) and salad, all washed down with beer and snaps with cheese, coffee and chocolates to finish. It was delicious!

Anne also hosted the occasion for us to meet more of my extended family, including second cousins who I haven’t seen since I was about 12. We all now have little girls around the same age so it was lovely to see them all playing together and to reconnect with my Danish relations. We came home filled with Danish food and joy.

Gækkebrev

Although we didn’t do this with the family, it is a standard Danish activity for children to make a gækkebrev. This is a snowflake paper cut-out, with a poem written in it. The child doesn’t sign the letter but instead puts dots for each letter of their name. The recipient then has to guess who sent them the letter. If they guess right, they receive a chocolate egg from the sender. If they can’t guess, they have to give the sender a chocolate egg. It’s a tradition dating back to the 1800s and during the Easter break, children (and adults) can have fun making them at the National Museum in Copenhagen.

Easter egg hunts

Easter would not be complete without an Easter egg hunt and yes they do have this in Denmark. Across Copenhagen, there have been egg-hunting events over the Easter break, including at The Frilands Museum and Carlsberg Visitors Centre.

Earlier in the week, Lyds and I went to an Easter-egg hunt organised by Danielle, who I first met at Manchester Airport when we were flying out to move here. She is from Bath and has lived in Copenhagen for seven years. We have kept in touch and it was so lovely to meet up and for Lydia to meet other bi-lingual toddlers in the making!

On Easter Sunday, all three of us went along to an Easter egg hunt organised by an Expat Group we are part of on Facebook. This was held at one of the group member’s houses and a chance for families to meet up, eat food and fellow expat children to play/hunt eggs. I never thought I’d be one of those people who joins a Facebook group to make friends but the Copenhagen Expats has been so helpful and welcoming and doesn’t really feel like that. We have met up with a few of the group before and everyone instantly clicked because we are all in that unique same boat. I’m actually quite bowled over by the fact someone would open up their house to host on Easter Sunday to people they barely know, all so we could feel part of a new different family. We enjoyed the afternoon sun, exchanged stories, swapped advice and made some lovely new friends in the process.

Bank Holiday Monday

What do you do with that extra day after all the chocolate has been consumed? In our case, Rich had to prepare for an interview on Tuesday so I had a walk and play in the park with Lydia after discovering the Netto chaos. From our local parks of Søndermarken and Frederiksberg Have, there are look-out points to Copenhagen Zoo. Yes really, that photo is from a stroll in the park. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of saying “let’s take a walk to see the elephants/giraffes, zebras.” Post on our new area will come soon.

This is really the view from the park.

All this however wasn’t enough excitement for Lydia’s day. As Rich was reading her bedtime stories, she poked him in the eye, so deeply, he couldn’t open it and was in a lot of pain. I can now inform you the Danish 111 system (1813) is very efficient, as is A&E. After speaking to someone on 1813, Rich got a taxi to hospital at 8.30pm, where they were phoned through to expect him, and he was home with an eye patch by 9.45pm. His eye is scratched and he has to use a special cream for the next four days. The eye patch can be taken off tomorrow (Tuesday) just in time for his interview.

Life is never dull around here. Hence still writing a blog post at midnight.

Happy Easter/back to work after Easter everyone! x

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