“I’m enjoying this time, now the Christmas snow falling white, so I know, Christmas is coming.”
The first sentence in “Peter’s Christmas” and here, Christmas connects with “White Christmas”. When I remember our childhood, I think that the majority have been more “green” than “white”. Therefore, I want to show some pictures to show that there has been Christmas with lots of snow and nice frost.
Christmas at Countryside in Nyrup a la 1950s is the end of the series “Season of the Year in Childhood Nyrup” – (# 1 Winter activities) – (# 2 Spring) – (# 3 Spring-Summer) – (# 4 Autumn Fall). This report is mostly my sister Eva’s written memories and deals with the preparations for Christmas and how we celebrated Christmas and the New Year.
Slaughter of the Christmas pig
When we approached Christmas, the Christmas pig was due to be slaughtered. It was Kresten on the hill – who we called him. He took out and slaughtered pigs. That morning the butcher should come, Mother was early on, because water had to be heated in a “gruekedel” (Which is a large, walled boiler over a fireplace walled into the utility room. At the bottom was a gate as in a wood-burning stove. The boiler itself was above the fireplace itself, which was a large vessel of enameled cast iron. On top of the large tub lay a wooden lid. My mother also used the large monthly wash of clothes.) The water was going to be very hot, to scald the pig and remove the lye and brushes.
I did not have any pictures of our “Gruekedel” from Nyrup, for illustration is showing one from the museum at Møn.
The day arrived, the butcher came, and the water boiled. The Butcher turned the wooden barrel upside down. The pig was bound and placed on top of the barrel which happened with a lot of screaming. For us children, it sounded heartbreaking and our dog Vibs certainly did not liked it and barked heavily and remained at a safe distance.
Mom stood ready with two buckets to collect the blood. In one bucket there was a big spoon, in the other bucket there was water and a pot measure because when the butcher had stabbed the pig, the blood would run into the bucket and our mother used the spoon to turn it around. She poured water while stirring continuously and added rye flour until the blood was completely cold. Then the blood should be sieved to take “flutter” and foam off.
Kresten on the hill ready to action with his knife. – In comparison, an old Dutch painting – the technique has not changed.
When the pig was scalded, it got out of the barrel, was scrapped and washed. Then the pig was hung up at a ladder, and the intestines were removed and now going to be cleaned. At first, they turned inside out, which occurred when Kresten first held the end of the small intestine and turned the outside of the small intestine in. Water was poured down, and the intestine very perfectly turned. It was always an elegant sight to see the intestine running out. As the small intestine is up to 20 meters long it was very fun to see the intestine “snake” run away. The sterile clean outer side of the intestine is now inside. Kresten began to scrape the intestines (remove mucosa), with a thin stick. The small intestine for sausage, colon, and stomach for “blood sausage. The blood sausage made as follows:
Mixed rye flour and a little buckwheat until it became a thick porridge, then raisins, salt, and fat. The blood got into the colon and stomach and closed either with a sausage stick or sewing. We cooked the sausage in a casserole and served hot with syrup or sprinkled with sugar.
The pig carcass hung on the ladder overnight until it was cold and stiff. The next day Mother cut the pig up into pieces. Medister (Danish) sauce, liver pâté, pork brawn, etc. She put it down in a basin in the basement. It was before we got a Frigidaire Freezer House in the garden.
Christmas baking started in the middle of December. Mom started baking cookies. She baked vanilla rings. The dough came through the meatgrinder. We were sometimes allowed to turn it around, and brown and white peppernuts which we were also allowed to roll. Could we get away with tasting the dough? One time, our mother got fed up with all that tasting. She gave us something on a spoon and said we should try something really good, but we spat it out. It was baking powder, and we stopped eating the dough. Our mother baked a lot more, white and brown layered cakes, syrup cake, sponge cake m.v.
One of Mother’s recipes, as Gerda noted in her recipe book. – Delicious “pepper nuts”.
Up to Christmas, the mailman began to deliver Christmas cards from family and friends.
Christmas card from 1965 from Father’s cousin Marie and Jens Mølgaard in Aalborg. The postage is a small amount of 40 øre, furthermore added a Christmas seal supporting charity (see Maria blog “Christmas Seals“). I have made a story about the Christmas cards from the 20th-30s see the link. The arrival of Christmas cards meant that we i.e. Mom would send Christmas cards back. It could also happen that Father wrote a few cards to his old college students. The post had the slogan: “Send the Christmas Post in good time”, but it was not always we reached it. If there were two holidays after each other, the post-man came on the second holiday. It was also nice to have Christmas cards in the days between Christmas and the New Year.
Before Christmas, the floors would also have to be varnished. It was a bigger job – we moved all of the furniture out of the living room and into the bedroom. We had our meals there on that occasion. It was all a lot different than usual. Our mother washed the floor with soap and it flushed with water to remove the soap. She did this task as the last thing before she went to bed as the last person. The next day you could still notice a little sticky feeling when you walked on it.
The Christmas tree
Our father bought the Christmas tree in the small village called Østrup, where all our purchases took place. Mother had a small book, as she wrote all that we needed to get. The milkman got the book and brought it to the grocery shop. They delivered the goods on their weekly country trip.
“Contrabook” with Mother’s orders of household items. – The grocery store in Østrup with my older sister Gerda on the bike.
Since we were not down to select the Christmas tree, we naturally got a “random” tree. I remember that it was not exactly the most beautiful tree. It could, for example, have branches on one side and had to be placed in the corner so that it did not look too silly. Father had a Christmas tree food made of old bicycle wheels and it required a good piece of stem at the bottom of the tree and the lower branches had to be cut off. It was not Father’s “competence” to put the foot on the Christmas tree. Later I made a new foot that did not require the bottom branches to be removed.
Mother decorates one of our beautiful Christmas trees – surely one that Gerda has provided. Dad is watching television; maybe it’s the child’s program as he loved.
Eva and Gerda about buying Christmas gifts for Mother: We did not have much money to buy Christmas gifts. One year at Christmas, Dad had given Gerda and Eva some money to buy a Christmas gift for Mother. We walked around in the town and looked at windows, and at one window, we saw a yellow lemon press of plastic. It was a new thing at the time and it cost 2.50 KR. I do not remember what we bought for dad.
Gerda inherited the lemon press after Mother. She still uses it every time for squeezing lemons and oranges. Gerda tells that it is still good and hopes that one of her grandchildren will appreciate it after she has passed.
The citron press labeled Nokalon, which Eva and Gerda bought for Mother.
Eva: We did not get many Christmas presents; Mother sewed dolls for us after we were in bed at night. We always got Christmas presents from aunt Helga in Copenhagen. It was always very exciting; I remember one year I got a piggy bank. At the bottom, there was a key.
Henry recounts: At a certain year aunt Jenny from Mariager would celebrate Christmas at our place. I wanted to make a Christmas present for her. I had learned to knit and started a “needle pillow” with space for a thimble in the middle. It was a bit bigger job than expected, so Mother had to help complete it.
Eva’s knitted “needle pillow” with aunt Jenny’s thimble in the middle.
Preparations for Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve on December 24th was the busiest day of the year. Everything should be ready for Christmas Eve. All windows in the farmhouse and the stable had to be washed. Then all the spider webs were brushed down and the lamps polished. They were covered with “fly spots” and that kind of thing always stays well. Here we used a lot of newspapers.
The picture here is, of course, from a summer day, but shows some of the windows that we washed before Christmas. – The next picture shows a swallow nest but also shows the ceiling of the vaults where we brushed a lot of spider webs on Christmas Eve.
Normally, we got hot food at 12.00, but the 24th was special. We got “hot Christmas beer”, pork tenderloin, blood sausage, etc. We got the hot food in the evening. We children always felt that time was going slow.
Eva: What we had to eat Christmas Eve may have been a pork stew, and then we got the rice pudding with an almond. One year we wondered where the almond had gone. We never found it. Our grandfather was old at the time, and we suppose he probably had eaten it without knowing he was supposed to tell the family about his finding it.
After we had eaten and washed up, we went around the Christmas tree and sang all the good Christmas hymn. The Christmas gifts, which were not so many, were handed out.
Some of my Christmas gifts. I have described more about the toys in “Toys and plays in Nyrup“.
We do not have any pictures from our childhood Christmas. When we became adults, we came home and celebrated Christmas with Dad and Mom. On one of the pictures, I have a few students from Tanzania home to celebrate Danish Christmas.
In the end, Mother went out into the kitchen and we got some sweets and oranges. We only got oranges for Christmas and they were very sour and I remembered that my father would like to add sugar. From the peel, you could make a denture, so it looked like you had lost a pair of teeth.
Mom in the kitchen, together with Gerda and Eva. They brew coffee and prepared sweets.
“Hygge” in the days between Christmas and New Year
Eva: St. Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve: Boxing Day, called St. Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve, we were out and did some fun. I remember a New Year’s Eve I was allowed to go out with the other children in Nyrup. Among other things, we were at Poul Thomsen’s, where we moved some garden tools around. We could also have taken some garbage and put on it their stairs. If we could get into the cow’s sheet, take people’s “dung barrow” and relocate it so they could not get the work done the next morning. We only did some innocent things, and in some places, they invited us to come inside.
A story that I have heard from Nyrup: Ejner Grøn’s was tired of boys stealing the dung barrow (møgbør) New Year’s Eve. He, therefore, smeared tar on the handles – and, indeed, the møgbør was attempted abducted, but only a few meters, it had been left behind. Our uncle Alfred was able to tell a lot of stories about what he had done at New Year’s Eves. The story we remember best is that of the rigid box van that was separated and collected again on the roof of the outhouse on a farm, the story depicted in “Uncle Alfred and his son Cousin Arne“.
New Years Eve
New Year’s Eve, my brother in law and I did smoke a cigar. It was not to enjoy the cigars but to ignite some New Year’s crackers and maybe some fireworks. Note the champagne bottle on the table, a bottle I’ve had brought from Cyprus where I had served as a UN peacekeeper. We did not know much about champagne, and when we finally got the cork up, it freaked it out and we only had a few drops 🙂 😦