Wednesday, 25 December 2013
Christmas begins a day early in the Little House as the Danish contingent likes to have their main celebration on Christmas Eve or Juleaften in Danish.
Lots of Danes enjoy roast goose on Christmas Eve but we prefer a ham. This is served with caramelised potatoes (truly delicious), red cabbage and peas and carrots in a light parsley sauce. The most important item though is dessert - the traditional rice pudding risalamande, made with whipped cream and chopped almonds and served with cherries (ours were in kirsch - yum). One almond is left whole and whoever finds this in their portion wins the marzipan pig! I know, it does all sound pretty peculiar and it's quite disconcerting to see everyone examining each and every almond piece in the hopes that they are the winner. This year it was little old me but I'm much too fond of the piggy, with his smart red ribbon, to dare eat any of it.
This seasonal Scandinavian version of bingo with images of Danish decorations and Christmas characters is taken very seriously and is fiercely competitive. To start with, a line will win you a present and then a full house but a fair amount of cheating goes not to mention 'fixing' by the caller. Presents are small but beautifully wrapped and each with a red ribbon. Sometimes silly and often practical, this year they included lens wipes and ice scrapers!
Finally, exhausted by the whole event (and the schnapps), stockings are put out, a carrot for Rudolph and a drink for Santa Claus or Julemanden (literally 'Yule Man'). He is assisted with his Yuletide chores by elves known as nisse. These Danish-style elves are more tricky than their English cousins. Traditionally it's believed that they live in attics or barns. It's important to keep in favour with them or you may find they will play a nasty trick on you or even ruin your luck.We always leave a few extra Christmas biscuits to be on the safe side.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
I had no idea that today's date was in any way significant until one of the pupils at my school told me. Apparently, today's date makes this a 'sequential day' and being the 11th day of the 12th month of the 13th year is pretty special; it doesn't happen again for another 90 years. In fact, as one of the Maths teachers excitedly informed me (in case I hadn't thought of it) in the afternoon at quarter past two and 16 seconds it was 11.12.13 14.15 16. He was right - it hadn't occurred to me! This is the same teacher who celebrates National Pi Day (March 14th or American format 3.14) by bringing in pies for his students. He is their favourite teacher.
Ron Gordon, a retired teacher and surely the ultimate geek, has made a hobby, and possibly lots of money, out of publicising mathematically-interesting days. He has devised Square Root Day (3.3.09), 'Ones Upon a Day (1.1.11) and highlighted a number of Odd Days - the last one being 9.11.13. Ok, I'm a bit bored by all the numbers now but I have to just tell you about one more - his most preposterous creation - 'Trumpet Day'! 'Do tell us, please, when trumpet day is?' I hear you plead. Well, this is some years away so you've plenty of time to plan your celebrations. Trumpet Day is on the 2.2.22. Not worked it out yet? Say it aloud and notice the unmistakable sound of a trumpet tooting 'Two, two, two twooo!'
I don't hold much with lucky numbers and therefore lucky days; I've always gone along with that old saying about making your own luck. It's amazing how many people are superstitious about numbers though; our Christmas party is this Friday and some might consider it terribly unlucky to hold such an event on Friday the 13th. However, I can relax because I know what will happen and that's not because I am somehow blessed with second sight. This is how it will go - However long I spend at the hairdresser, my hair will look exactly the same as it always does (grey-streaked and completely lifeless). At some point in the evening I will fail at being interesting and intellectual and say something entirely idiotic, probably to the Headmaster, and scupper my chances of any kind of pay rise. I will also spill some sort of staining foodstuff down my front and I will drink just a little too much, not so much that I am a total embarrassment but enough to mislead me into thinking that I can dance. Oh well, nevermind, I've got at least 8 years to learn the trumpet!