Danish Advent traditions

The supermarkets and florists in the city are full of greenery at the moment from boxes of moss and sprays of pine trees to bags of damp looking dark green moss. There are also rows of bulbs such as hyacinth and amaryllis. With less than a week until the first Sunday of Advent, now is the time to start decorating our homes. Christmas trees are generally put up later in December but the four candle displays for advent need be ready by the 29th so the first one can be lit then and the countdown to Christmas can begin.advent foliage 4

The candles can be bought in supermarkets and other shops. They can either have the number printed on them (1-4) or you can add your own numbers. They are then placed in an arrangement with greenery and decorations or in a wreath. You may also spot heavy cylinders of ler (clay) in Christmas decoration displays in the supermarkets. You can use this around your candles to affix decorations and stop the candles moving. There are so many ways to do this from the very modern to the very traditional and it is normal to see them burning merrily in people’s windows.

The other candle tradition is a calendar candle with numbers 1 to 24 running down it, and vary massively in price from around 35kr to 300kr. You burn the candle daily to melt away that date until, by the 24th, you should have a little candle stump. We have both in our house and it is very usual to see the 24 day ones burning in lots of public places from shops to doctor’s surgeries. There is always a place of advent hygge!

advent foliage 3

Natural Christmas wreaths to be hung on front doors are always very popular and there are plenty to choose from. If you want to decorate your own there are plain ones but many florists offer already decorated ones. I vary my choice from year to year (here are mine from 2014 and 2013) and this year I think I shall go natural again, I spotted the perfect one in the florist outside Magasin today.advent foliage 2

Next comes plants and bulbs and bringing nature into your home. December is the darkest month in Denmark and along with candles, we also bring Christmas plants into the home. Florists are heaving with pots of hyacinth and amaryllis bulbs which once in the warmth of the home will bloom for December. Poinsettia and Christmas roses are also popular, bringing both red and white into the home. We also share the greenery with our neighbours and in many apartment buildings little evergreen and red berry arrangements appear overnight on staircase window sills and if you are lucky you may even get a communal Christmas tree in your entrance hall. Advent is a magical time in Denmark.

advent foliage 1


  1. Hi,
    Can you tell me how long a fresh wreath will generally last in Denmark so I know when I should buy one? In Australia where I’m from the heat would leave it dried out and brown in no time so I’m loving the idea of having some fresh greenery here.

    • Hi Janine, I usually put mine up in the second week of Advent and it lasts right through until after Christmas, it is still green but drying out by then. I think you could put one up sooner especially if it is a very fresh and green to start with. Hope this helps.

  2. I love this! My father in law is always in charge of making the Advent wreath in their house. So he goes into the forest year and forages for pretty greenery. I’m avowed to do something Advent-y this year, although struggle to find the necessary items like clay or a base, here in the UK. 😦 Maybe if I had my act together I could order something online. 🙂

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