The Package Game.
The rules will vary from place to place but the game is always about acquiring packages. In my family everyone will bring two wrapped objects all of which are placed on the table.
For round one a die is passed around and everyone will roll it once in turn. If you roll a 6 you will be allowed to pick a package from the table and pace it in front of you. This continues until all the packages are claimed. Then the game continues in earnest.
For round two a timer will be set for an amount of time known only to the person responsible for setting it. Then the die is passed around the table once more (usually at a furious pace). Roll a 6 and you are allowed to steal a package from one of the other participants. The packages sitting in front of you when the time is up are yours to keep.
This game often gets very nasty, personal and vindictive – which is what makes it so funny. It is quite possible to form a very emotional attachment to certain packages and end up in vicious duels with other players.
Also the choosing of a package is an art form in itself. You get points for originality. You get points for being able to disguise an object as something else. You get points for alluring wrapping and/or sounds coming from within the package. The contents of the package should be something unexpected. Something awesome but useless. Something that makes you laugh when you open it – be it because you won a kind of candy you are allergic to or because you can’t believe you spent 3 of your lucky rolls on winning two rolls of toilet paper.
The unveiling of the tree.
On Christmas Eve – on the 24th – after dinner and dessert is over with. The tree is prepared and lit behind closed doors. Then it is revealed and everyone goes “ooooh”.
The follows Christmas carols sung while walking hand in hand around the tree after which presents are distributed. The task of being the “Nisse” usually goes to the youngest person capable of rational thinking present. He or she dons a red hat and hands out presents from under the tree. It is considered an art form to be able to keep presents flowing at a reasonable pace.
This was really “Christmas Traditions III-VI” I suppose. Also these traditions are highly specific to my family. Go one household over and things are likely to be completely different.
Eating rice pudding with butter and cinnamon flavoured sugar on the 23th of December.
The rice pudding is big in Denmark. There are two variants: the one that constitutes a meal (the one presented above) and a dessert which is rice pudding mixed with chopped almonds, whipped cream (whipped in to make the consistency lighter) and served with warm cherry sauce on top.
Today is Store Bededag. A day of generalised faith all over a country that’s more oficially Evengelical Lutheran but in reality more secular than most nations claiming to be. It has always been a source of amazement to me that states like the US, Russia and the Baltic/Eastern European area can claim to be secular states when religion has such a huge influence on every aspect and level of society. Why does a secular country require it’s president to take oaths in the name of God? Seemingly identifying religious influence over politics as “values” is like a magical charm that dispels the paradox. A secular state governed on the basis of Christian values? Bah.
Rants aside – in non-secular Denmark where 5% of the population actually practice their religion we eat wheat bread on this day of general prayers. Instituted because all the numerous holy days in the spring were making it difficult to get enough work out of the peasants. I decided to celebrate with ninja toast.
Really. Is this a pie, tart or cake? Around here we simply refer to it as an applecake but danish language is notoriously imprecise.
As I was discussing with The Randi one of the hardest things for me to do is to follow a recipe. My head is too disorganised and I have trouble doing, reading and mentally processing information at the same time. Learning how to cook has for me been a process of learning by heart how to treat different ingredients and then combinning the results. I can cook complicated dishes and I’m very good at improvising but throw in a vegetable I do not know and it all falls to pieces.
I’m a Sorcerer not a Wizard (thank you D&D for making it possible to reduce this long explanation to a short statement).
One of the things that helps me is to slowly and steadily measure out all of the components (which is why you see so many pictures of things arranged on my chopping board) and arrange them in groups corresponding to what has to be prepared together. Then I arrange these groups in the order they have to be prepared. It’s a very visual process for me. Eventually these images become second nature and I can just start cooking.
Fastelavn is – to me – mostly about kids freezing their ass off in costumes. But it is also about Lasses Fastelavn-rolls. It’s a sweeet roll with a creamy substance in the center and liquid sugar on top. Delicious.
Mitch draws bad penises (Mitch never says “dick”).