All Danish kids get one or more Advent calendars - or Christmas calendars as they are called in Denmark. The two big television channels each year produce a special new Christmas series divided into 24 episodes to keep the children's excitement in a high gear. The more fortunate children also get a gift calendar consisting of 24 small presents, one for each day before Christmas, individually bought and wrapped by their parents.
The world famous Danish Christmas Seals celebrate their 104 anniversary this year. That makes them the worlds oldest of their kind and it is probably only to be expected that the country which originally invented the postal system also created the Christmas seal.
Since its debut in 1904 the seals have been copied in many countries around the world. They are designed each year by specially invited artists and produced by the Julemærkefonden charity. Among the most famous designers is the Danish Queen Margrethe II, who at many occasions has proved to posses extraordinary artistic skills.
The Christmas seals are used on letters and postcards, just like stamps, but they are not obligatory. They are sold only around Christmas time and the revenue is distributed to needy children.
It is not unusual for Danes to write a lot of Christmas cards to friends and family and most of them are provided with the Christmas seals. The cards are never printed in advance in the Hallmark fashion but handwritten like in the good old days.
According to the Catholic Church, Lucia is the saint of light (lux = light in Latin). She is celebrated on the night between the 12th and the 13th of December, especially in schools, retirement homes, hospitals and other institutions all over Denmark, with small girl processions and traditional singing. Legend has it that Lucia, in order to keep her hands free, wore a wreath with candles on her head so that she could (illegally) feed the poor Christians on the hide in the catacombs of ancient Rome.