Sunday, December 2, 2012

Officially Christmas time in Denmark

Have you ever had pálinka?  I hadn't until this week.  It was homemade too.  If you want an alcohol with a horse kick, this stuff has it in spades.  I was introduced to it along with homemade hungarian cabbage and meatballs made by grandma.  It was incredibly delicious.  Being a part of the International community, one certainly gets to have a plethora of experiences and I am happy for that.

I guess that it was a week for firsts as I witnessed my first ever epileptic fit too.  While taking a smoke break out on the balcony at language school, I noticed that a man was looking rather odd.  I had been about to go in but I turned around in a heart beat and went over to see if I could help.  As I was going over, he started to look more and more off and it seemed like he was collapsing into a guy who was standing just behind him.  As I arrived, he started to seize and I and the other guy carefully lowered him to the ground.  He was so unbelievable rigid.  As we took him down, my leg ended up being trapped between his legs and I could feel the force of the seizure through my leg.  I managed to extricate myself and continued to stay with the guy.

Someone else came over and was trying to put a cup of water to his mouth.  I forceful said no and pushed the glass away.  Obviously they didn't realize that he couldn't drink and it could even cause a problem.  Then he started frothing at the mouth and I gestured to those around me to turn him on his side so that he wouldn't take it into his lungs.  I don't know how long this went on but it felt like it was a long seizure.   There was a point when I could see his eyes roll up in his head as he went out.  Finally, you could see him slowly start to come back to us but he was just not really with us at all.  He didn't know where he was for a while.  At this point, some of the employees of the school came out as well as the head master and I felt that it was appropriate to leave as they seemed to understand the situation.  I think that it was a little while before I calmed down.

My group wrote our first official assignment this week and it was quite an experience.  Three out of four of us had never had to try to do a written assignment as a group.  It was very frustrating at times but we did get it done and turned it in.  I have no idea whether or not it will be considered okay or not though.  There needs to be training for people that have no experience in it.  And I would even say that it would be important for people who are used to doing it but can't put into words how it works or why.  I also think that there are types of assignments that it is good for and types that it isn't so good for but I haven't enough experience with it to specify what exactly.

We had an assignment this week in Danish class to go out into the community and ask questions and get information on certain places to make a report for the class.  It was a lot of fun.  My group went to the Activity House here in Haderslev.  What an amazing place it was.  There are two floors of workrooms.  One is for metal work and  woodwork and the other is for glasswork and sewing crafts.  There is one official person there to help you and some volunteers.  You pay only 20 kr. for a day plus you pay for any materials that you use.  It is like a candy store when you walk in with all the equipment that you could ever imagine having a need for.  I hope to be able to use this one of these days.
This is the link to their website.
Activity House Haderslev
Picture from Aktivitetshuset webpage. Sewing room.

Picture from Aktivitetshuset webpage.  Metal shop.

The same people that shared their pálinka with me earlier in the week, had me over again on Friday to share in a feast.  It was the naming day for two people.  We don't have this back in America or Canada but I also heard about in when living in France.  It is the day that matches the Saint who also has your name.  We had deer meat that had been brought over from Hungary and cooked into an amazing dinner.  The meat and sauce was served over a cooked potato that was cut up.  It had Juniper berries in the sauce too.  I have not had venison for years and thoroughly enjoyed getting a chance to eat it again.

On Saturday, we went to a second hand market that they have once a month.  It is actually quite close to where I live so it was easy to get to.  They had anything that you could possibly want there.  I bought a book from 1899.  It is a book of the plays of an author called Ludwig Holberg.  I had no idea who that was but my roommate told me that he is actually quite well-known and an important literary figure here.  It took me hours to try to read just the very beginning of it.  It wasn't just that it was a foreign language and that it was an old form of it, but also that the typography was even more unfamiliar to me than just simply that the s was the long version.  You would never imagine what the k looks like.  I had to spend a long time on the internet trying to find the typography so that I could interpret it.  But I found it.

Ludwig Holberg Comædier 1899

Ludwig Holberg Comædier 1899

Gothic Alphabet from 1890 in Denmark

Apparently, we have an official nissemand (elf) here.  On Friday, when we got up in the morning, someone had come by and put some Christmas decorations on four of our apartment doors.  It was the sweetest thing ever.  We have had such fun trying to figure out who it might have been and the mystery of it is quite entrancing.

Christmas decorations left by a mystery nisse. 

Dec. 1 was also the official day for the Danes to put up their Christmas decoration and start the month long festivities.  At the second hand market, I found two classic style nisse to put in my window and I got a Santa hat as well.  I only spent 25 kr. for the book, two elves and hat.  Awesome.

Classic Danish Christmas decorations

This is also when the "Julekalender" starts on TV.  Apparently, this is a tradition and every year whatever happens the day before on the 15 minute program becomes the water cooler conversation for the next day.  I have seen a few of them from the previous years on youtube but I don't get the channel that they are on so that I can watch them each day and be a part of the Danish culture of the season.  Oh well.  Maybe next year.

An example of the Julekalendar shows.

Today, was a free day at the Archeology museum here in town and they had all sorts of fun activities for the kids as well.  They had a game where the kids had to seek out the clues left by the nisse all around the museum.  You would find little tiny elf footprints all over the museum leading to something for the game.  They had singers and glogg.  They had Santa and the night watchmen.  The building was quite impressive especially considering the small size of the town that we are in.  There are a number of medieval buildings dotted around the space with original materials in them set up as they would have been back then.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Arkeologi Museet i Haderslev.

Holiday cheer

Little girl gets to pick a candy from Santa's sack. 

They look so amazed.

A little glogg and some æbleskiver.

Haderslev night watchmen (vægteren)

Oh yeah.  It snowed too!.  It snowed on Dec. 1 in the evening and we all ran out to see it.  Then a bunch of the crowd up here ended up in a snowball fight and sliding.  One of them had never been in the land of snow in her whole life and it was just like watching a kid's first experience with the stuff.  So much fun to see!  It was coming down in those huge fat snowflakes that cover the ground with great haste.  Today, when I got up the snow was still there and plus more that had fallen during the night.  We walked down to the museum in a beautiful white wonderland.  I have missed snow so much.

It is just starting to come down and everyone is so excited.

Me and the snow!

Games in the snow.

What I saw the next morning.

Walking to the museum.  Gorgeous.

Still walking to the museum.  Still gorgeous.

And the sun goes down on a great day!

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