Turning winter gloom into Christmas joy

Maybe it’s because I spent a week in warm Italy, maybe it’s because the season really is changing, but I’ve noticed a significant change in the weather this past week here in Copenhagen. As it goes with a fall-to-winter season change in any climate, the chill tends to creep up on you until before you know it, long heavy coats, cozy gloves, and warm hats are a must if you want to be comfortable walking around outdoors. Here in Copenhagen, the sky is gloomy and hazy, the air is crisp and chilly, and the sun is already gone by 4 p.m. I knew all of this would be the case before I arrived, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive the short days and brisk weather. As someone who is very used to driving anywhere I need to go, I was especially unsure how I’d ever want to leave the house when it involved so much walking outdoors.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that, of course, Copenhageners have this problem figure out.

This past weekend, the city officially opened up the Christmas markets, and along with it came a sense of community and joy that I feel only the Christmas season can bring.

Smoked sausage hut!

There are three main Christmas markets in Copenhagen, with Christiania and Tivoli celebrating the holidays in their own way as well. They feature a variety of little counters with different vendors with everything from hats, leatherwork, rolling pins, and ornaments to gløgg (a hot, spiced wine), stroopwaffle, bretzel, and smoked sausages. While some of these things are typically Nordic, like gløgg, Flødeboller, and the smoked sausages, the markets also feature a variety of things traditionally found in countries across Europe like the Dutch stroopwaffle, the Bavarian bretzel, French crepes, and Irish coffee. Basically, you’re walking through a winter European wonderland while walking through these markets.

The most delicious mini pancakes

While the markets themselves are wonderful themselves, the holiday happiness seen in people gathering in the streets, children waiting in line to meet Santa Clause, or couples sharing a cozy gløgg together in one of the warming huts creates an entirely different environment of joy beyond the businesses in the temporary huts.

People are not only willing to go outside, they’re actually excited to do so! Some areas of the market as well as some surrounding restaurants have space heaters and blankets to make sitting outside more comfortable, and the typical ‘hygge’ Danish culture of being comfy and cozy together is found around every corner. The Christmas lights hung on ever tree and storefront illuminate the dark city in an entirely different way than sunlight ever could.

Some fun Christmas gifts at one stand

I had the chance to explore the markets with a friend, again alone the following day, and finally with my parents after they arrived this past Sunday, and each time, it was a completely different experience.

Gløgg stand and a warming hut!

You can choose your goal in the markets with every visit: will you be shopping for Christmas gifts for loved ones? Warming up and relaxing with some gløgg? Creating a three course meal as you sample the various European cuisine? Ice skating on the pop-up rink by Nyhavn? Or will you just sit back and watch the joy of others erupt into the streets, and wait for the sky to turn black so the lights begin to shine and create a whole new city?

My personal favorite- the pretzels!

It’s truly wonderful to have this city-wide feeling of coziness and jolliness, and I can’t help but think of it as another way the Copenhagen citizens look out for one another. They know that gloominess and cold affect everyone, and no matter what, you just can’t deny Christmas joy. It’s especially exciting to know I have a whole month to find something new to enjoy around every corner.

My parents and I at the Christmas market closest to where I live 🙂

Published by hawkelki

Hi! My name is Ellie Hawkins, and I’m currently a senior at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I’m studying abroad at DIS Copenhagen for the Fall 2021 semester and am so excited for all I will get to experience.

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