Impending Darkness

Every Autumn, the earth dies and it is always so ironic to me how beautiful that process can be.   I would have thought that living in the city would lessen our chances of a colorful fall season, but we have now experienced Autumn in Copenhagen and it was stunning.  Perhaps it had to do with being in a new place, turning a corner and gasping at the surprise of a street covered in leaves. Or having red branches frame a picture-postcard view of a 16th century building.  Or having less green and more deciduous trees, but for whatever reason, I found myself taking a lot of pictures this season.

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Autumn never lasts as long as I would like.  The colorful trees are becoming brittle and bare as we prepare for a cold, dark winter.  Skies have been mostly grey, with the exception of a few crisp, sunny days.  Temperatures hoover just above freezing and an assortment of hats, gloves and scarves are scattered in our entry way.  The girls wear their ‘flyverdragt’ every day, just as all the Danish kids do.  (Flyverdragt is a one-piece snow suit, literally translated as “flying-suit”.)  When I pick up the girls from school, around 3pm, I can feel darkness already approaching.  And while getting suited up for a cold ride home and putting lights on the bike, it is easy to think to yourself, “this is crazy, it’s almost December and we’re biking home in the dark”.  But then, as you get going and the pedaling instantly warms your blood, you look around and realize that you’re suddenly in the middle of a mob of other bikers, with flashing lights, doing exactly the same thing.  No, it isn’t crazy.  It isn’t even strange.  Pedal on and enjoy the view.

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Just like most people, I tend to think Christmas season begins earlier every year and this year was no exception.  The beginning of the Christmas season is marked here with J-dag (J-day), on the  first Friday in November.  On the afternoon of J-dag, Tuborg or Calsberg wagons, decked out with garlands and Danish flags, deliver the years specially brewed Julebryg (Christmas brew) to all the pubs around Copenhagen.  Patrons, decked out in Santa caps, crowd in all the establishments waiting for free samples.

Something else happens in Denmark this time of year. It is the high season of ‘hygge’…which means something similar (but not equal to)…coziness, security, well-being, fellowship.   A better way to describe it is to imagine an intimate gathering with family or friends, lit only by candlelight and a blazing fire, raising a toast, and chatting late into the night.  The best thing about hygge, is that it can be found everywhere, usually by lighting a few candles, which invite a cozy, intimate setting .  On Christmas eve, the quest for hygge is so great, it even drives the Danes to lighting real candles on their Christmas trees. (Homeowners’ insurance is expensive here.)  And I must admit, when it is cold and dark outside, seeing candles lit in almost every store window does make you feel warmer.

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We hope you are staying cozy and warm as you prepare for a busy and joyous holiday season!

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5 responses to “Impending Darkness

  1. Stunning. The photos look like postcards -or better, paintings! Lovely words, too. My best to all of you this season, sending much hygge your way!

  2. I sure appreciate your diligence in keeping all of us back in the US updated on your life in Denmark and your exciting travels. Your pictures are captivating. What a gift in not only tracking all this for us, but some day, your girls are going to appreciate all of this documentation, too, if they don’t already. Thank you.

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