How to enjoy the winter holidays in Aarhus

By Gulden Timur, Karakoz Ydyrys, Lisa Ossenbrink, photos by Vlad Dumitrescu-Petrica, Gulden Timur, Karakoz Ydyrys, Lisa Ossenbrink,

ARoS celebrates Christmas through art

While the exhibitions are looking the same as usually in ARoS, the fourth floor invites its visitors into a cozy public space with an almost festive atmosphere: Christmas trees in form of wood and light installations as well as stars hanging from the ceilings in the café are blazoning the Market area. It makes for quite the entrance into the building, furthering the Christmas spirit that can be felt throughout the whole city during the month of December.

As one might expect of a contemporary art museum, religion and culture are kept separate from what’s on display at ARoS – even with Christmas playing a big role in Danish society, as Press Officer, Anne Riis explains.

ARoS Market on the fourth floor of the museum is the exception to this rule. The public urban space with study area, café, lounge and gift shop invites the community in from the dark of winter and is decorated festively to create a warm and welcoming feeling. Visitors can find Christmas presents in the gift shop (which even participated in Black Friday for the first time this year), or sit and drink a coffee while watching the traffic pass by outside.

Religion and culture are kept separate from what’s on display at Aros, so the approach to Christmas is rather relaxed (photo: Lisa Ossenbrink)

Although there are no special Christmas installations or exhibitions, two unique events are held at ARoS to celebrate the religious tradition. For this first special occasion, a Gospel Choir has been invited to sing at the museum on December 7th, performing both at 13.00 and 15.00. While there is an entrance fee, ARoS Market remains open to the public and the music can be listened to from there.

Another special events was the celebration of Lucia on Friday 13th at 17.30. Over 50 children were invited to ARoS to wander around while holding lights in their hands. Every Sunday in December, there’s also a free Jazz event in the café at ARoS.

When asking Anne Riis about the tendency of Christmas becoming too much about consumerism, she agreed to this being a threat to the traditional sense of the holiday and a challenge for organisers of cultural events, too. If there was an art exhibition that criticised this, ARoS could surely think about putting it on display.

Christmas at Den Gamle By

The rather relaxed approach of ARoS museum to the fest can in no way be compared to Den Gamle By who have hired a full-time curator just for Christmas. At the living history museum, you can explore more than 400 years of Christmas. December is also their busiest month, with the most visitors arriving in the shortest amount of time. On average, more than 150,000 guests visit Den Gamle By during the festive time, states the Head of Communication, Gorm Ruge. The special Christmas route is marked by lanterns that guide the visitor through 400 years of Christmas history. Visitors might embark on a journey from 1884 over 1917 to 1973, find out when the Christmas tree and presents were introduced as parts of the tradition and how the aesthetics of Christmas celebration changed over the time.

Den Gamle By is a right choice for those who value traditions and the genuine Christmas spirit (photo: Vlad Dumitrescu-Petrica)

Historical anecdotes include how the Christmas tree used to be decorated with treats for the kids – which sometimes included carrots! – and how the baker used to be the only person with an oven in town. People would come in and bring their meat for it to be cooked in the oven, and in order to make sure they wouldn’t come back and claim a bigger piece, a playing card was torn in half. One piece was handed out to the customer and the other distinguished their rightful piece of meat.Any family member can find something in Den Gamle By: children can enjoy fun with elves at Mintmaster’s mansion or even try to become elf themselves. For more adult population there is plenty of attractions beginning from the beer brewing workshop, Christmas storytelling and ending with the treasure hunt. On the territory there are multiple thematic markets with plenty of souvenirs and traditional festive food.

Did you know… that originally the Christmas tree idea comes from Germany? Until the mid-19th century Christmas tree did not enjoy such central role as it does now. It used to be established only in the houses of secular middle-class families (mainly in Copenhagen). If before the Christmas decorations were limited to sweets, that were supposed to become presents for the kids of the poor, they also include presents hung on the tree brunches now. The number of the presents was still limited, and only later in history they begun to be wrapped and placed under the tree. The tree became common in Denmark after the WWI.

Immersing into the Christmas atmosphere, walking on the cobblestones and having fun with your closest ones – it all constitutes a unique feeling of magic. However, the best part about Den Gamle By is that anyone can choose the time epoque that he/she wants to celebrate Christmas at. While the ancient part represents how the poor did not celebrate Christmas unlike the rich, and how the religion was underlying the whole festivity, in the modern part you see how the Christmas integrated with the modern world and became rather another reason for meeting with the family members. The expanded cast of the Living History – an interactive presentation of the people’s customs through years – helps visitors to live through this historical adventure.

Tivoli Friheden is a “must see” these winter holidays

The park has already won a major place in children’s hearts, but for this Christmas it exceeds all expectations. The shining Ferris wheel opens a wonderful view on the territory, covered with the fake snow, while the tunnel of lights gives an impression of traveling to another world. If to search more carefully, one might find a Swan Lake of Love – a ballet created within Chinese Light Festival.  Watching the romantic dance of the installations is a sheer pleasure. For those willing to live through this mesmerizing moment with their Significant Other, there is an option of the lake trip among the trees with Julehjerte on their branches and giant luminous Christmas ball. The fairytale does not end on that – there is also a old good Christmas market with traditional festive food and drinks. Lastly, the children (together with their parents) might enjoy one of the recent surprises prepared by the park.

Anyone can reveal their inner child in Tivoli: the light festival, statues and decorations make you dive in the Christmas magic very quickly (photos: Gulden Timur, Karakoz Ydyrys )

A place to send a letter to Santa Claus

Nissernes Postkontor in Aarhus Tivoli Friheden, is the place where children were invited to send a letter to Santa. Usually, two girls take care of Christmas cards every year to retrieve old and forgotten traditions of writing a letter.  

“They [two girls working at Nissernes Postkontor] just really love Christmas and have a whole blog about it. So that is why they are here – to get old traditions back. Because sending out Christmas cards is kind of dying. There is not so many sending letters anymore because of social media and phones,” explained Amusement rides staff, Ellen Marie Schneider.

 Marie Schneider, as well as two girls, sent all the postcards to a real postbox after the end of each working day.

According to Marie Schneider, post stamps are free of cost sponsored by PostNord. And the Nissernes Postkontor was not used only by children. Also, the adults used this service in order to send messages to their parents or siblings, she explained. 

 When Christmas season passes, the place is usually a driving school for children, who can get a ‘fake driving license’ afterwards.

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