22 December: "There’s nothing more Christmassy than drinking Glühwein and eating Quarkbällchen"

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Athar Mounira Borjini studies political science and is from the Danish minority in Germany. She loves Christmas markets and Christmas dinner.

2019.12.16 | Anna Bech Sørensen

Graphics: Astrid Reitzel

The Omnibus Advent Calendar:

The Advent calendar is a treasured Danish Christmas tradition. In many families, kids get to open a small gift each day all December until Christmas Eve, when Christmas is celebrated.

Our small holiday gift to you is a chance to meet one of AU’s many international students and employees every day until Christmas.

All 24 will share where they’re spending Christmas this year, their favorite (and least favorite) Christmas traditions from their home countries,  and what’s most annoying – or surprising – about Christmas in Denmark.

How are you going to celebrate Christmas this year?

I'll be celebrating Christmas with my mum in Flensburg. We usually watch a Christmas film and play board games during the day. We prepare the meal together. Like many other Germans, we have raclette (a sort of fondue, ed.) on Christmas Eve. When I was a child, we always had duck with red cabbage and potatoes, but recently we’ve started feeling that we’ve had enough of that. So we’ve changed to raclette.

What is the best/worst Christmas tradition from your home country?

The best Christmas tradition when I was a child was a visit from Santa Claus. As an adult, I look forward to Christmas markets most. I think we’ve got a really good one in Flensburg. There’s nothing more Christmassy than drinking Glühwein and eating Quarkbällchen, while you’re surrounded by masses of Christmas decorations and Christmas spirit.

The worst tradition has got to be that many Germans eat potato salad with sausages on Christmas Eve, and don’t eat ‘proper’ Christmas food until 25 December. But we’ve never done that in my family. I used to think it was a rather strange tradition, especially because you still get gifts on 24 December and the whole family are together.  But a couple of years ago, I found out why so many Germans eat potato salad with sausages on Christmas Eve, and now it makes more sense. In olden times, 24 December wasn’t a public holiday, and people worked all day and didn’t have time to prepare a large Christmas dinner. So people made something simple that everyone liked. In fact, Christmas Day is still only a half-day holiday, so many people work until 1 or 2 o’clock. Of course, it’s not my businesss what people eat am heiligen Abend (on Christmas Eve). But for me, 24 December is when I really celebrate, because that’s when the whole family gets together with gifts and delicious Christmas food. I couldn't imagine doing without our traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.

What is the most annoying thing about Danish Christmas?

I love Danish Christmas! As I grew up among the Danish minority in Germany, my family also has loads of Danish traditions. We always watch the Christmas calendar children’s TV series and dance around the Christmas tree. But if I had to mention one slightly irritating thing, it might be that alcohol is very much part of Danish Christmas traditions, especially at work. I drink alcohol myself, but I think Danish Christmas must be a bit tiresome for people who don't drink for one reason or another.

- Fröhliche Weihnachten 

The Omnibus Advent Calendar:

The Advent calendar is a treasured Danish Christmas tradition. In many families, kids get to open a small gift each day all December until Christmas Eve, when Christmas is celebrated.

Our small holiday gift to you is a chance to meet one of AU’s many international students and employees every day until Christmas.

All 24 will share where they’re spending Christmas this year, their favorite (and least favorite) Christmas traditions from their home countries,  and what’s most annoying – or surprising – about Christmas in Denmark.

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