The Danes do Valentine’s Day right. In Denmark, Valentine’s Day just is not that big of a deal. In fact, the Valentine’s Day we know and, um, love did not even find its place there until the 1990s. The hearts and chocolates and all that have only been customary for little more than 30 years. Mostly, Danes celebrate the day by admirers sending the one they love or for whom they long spring flowers called snowdrops and gaekkebrev or a lover's card.
People of Denmark referred to Valentine’s Day cards as “lover’s cards” and they were once made from transparent material that reflected a picture of a lover bestowing a gift to his or her significant other when it was held up to the light. Instead of the red roses many Americans associate with Valentine’s Day, Danish people give white flowers that they call “snowdrops.” People used to give pressed white flowers to their Valentines, but these days they have switched to bouquets.
These are pieces of paper that have had holes cut from them to create a design – much like the snowflakes you made in elementary school. Gaekkebrev loosely translates to “joke letter.” The joke is in the way the sender signs his or her name. It is done in dots, one for each letter of the name. If the recipient can solve who the sender is, the sender owes them Easter candy about two months later. If they are unable to guess who sent the gaekkebrev, the recipient owes the sender an Easter treat.
This game of guessing and the gaekkebrev tradition dates to the 18th century and was specifically for Easter. Moving it up a bit to coincide with Valentine’s Day began when the love holiday arrived in Denmark 30-something years ago. This, of course, makes it harder to find snowdrops to send with the lover’s card, as the Danes call it, so in most cases, a box of chocolates suffices.
If writing joke poems was encouraged here, many would have saved themselves a lot of a of embarrassing Valentine’s Days.
The exact reason snowdrops are the flower of choice for Valentines day in Denmark I have yet to find perhaps by next Valentines day, however the history of the snowdrop is long and covers the full globe, it is a most interesting flower indeed. I think that the flower is given due to the sense of hope the delicate white flower brings at the end of winter and the purity of the white signifying the pure of heart and hope of love returned. Or it could be this reason as well. The snowdrop flower itself also plays into the joke, being a portent of a not-quite-arrived Spring season.
Snowdrops are a beautiful and delicate beginning of spring. They bloom during the months of February through March often while there is still snow on the ground. They give gardens an early start when most flowers are still dormant.
A Moldovan legend describes a fight between Lady Spring and Winter Witch; details show that at a point in the battle Lady Spring cuts her finger. The drop of blood melted the snow and a snowdrop flower grew. The pure white flower was a sign of Lady’s Spring’s victory over the Winter Witch.
A German folktale shows a gentler side to the snowdrop. At the beginning of time, Snow searched for a color to borrow. The elements admired flowers and their colors. When Snow asked and pleaded for one of the colors of the flowers, the flowers turned way denying Snow a color; they felt Snow was too cold and unpleasant. The snowdrop however felt sorry for Snow and offered it its color.
Snow accepted the gift and became white from that point on. To show its gratitude, Snow allowed snowdrops to bloom at the end of winter with Snow’s protection against snow and ice. Snow and snowdrops exist side-by-side as friends.
Snowdrops have many meanings and symbols associated with it. They can mean purity, innocence, and sympathy.
Did you know Pandora Jewelry was created by a Dane??
Pandora's simple clean, beautiful jewelry ranks right up with the top three, Cartier, and Tiffany's. As a Canadian and a women I have to say Pandora is my favorite jewelry style. They were the first to create a jewelry line of jewelry elements to assemble so that women could design there own, in a price margin that most could afford and continue to add to. There marketing strategy was genius to say the least, as well as gorgeous. There history and branding are equally ingenious.
THE PANDORA STORY
It all started nearly 30 years ago. Back in 1982 a jeweller’s shop that would one day become PANDORA was established in modest surroundings in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Danish goldsmith Per Enevoldsen and his wife Winnie. From the beginning, they often travelled to Thailand in search of jewelry for importing. As the demand for their products increased, their focus gradually shifted towards wholesale to clients in Denmark. In 1987, after several successful years as wholesalers, the retail activities were discontinued and the company moved to larger premises. Meanwhile, the first in-house designer joined the company and PANDORA began to focus on creating its own unique jewelry. In 1989, the company decided to start manufacturing its jewelry in Thailand
Pandora brand history
The company was doing just like any other company in jewelry business. The brand was owned by a Danish family with but a few employees in staff. The family decided that Pandora is a good name for a jewelry company. Those who have never touched upon Greek mythology would say that this is just a beautiful woman’s name. The ones who heard some of those however would remember a curious maiden opening the forbidden box. Moreover, Greek learners would understand it differently again, as “Pandora” is translated as "bearer of all gifts”.
Things altered completely when the company owners personally developed their own unique sales strategy in 1999. They came up with the idea of selling jewelry elements instead of entire items. It was a brilliant move indeed as ladies were given an opportunity to design their own jewelry. And the idea really struck the market when the company started to sell “charms” with Pandora logo on them. Charms are elements of pendants, armlets, necklaces which can be worn as a centerpiece or combined to make even more beautiful jewelry. Thanks to ingenious designers’ ideas the charms has become extremely popular.
The Greek Myth of Pandora
Pandora, The First Woman On Earth
Pandora was, according to the myth, the first woman on Earth. She was created by Gods; each one of them gave her a gift, thus, her name in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts”.
Pandora was created as a punishment to the mankind; Zeus wanted to punish people because Prometheus stole the fire to give it to them. Her gifts were beautifully evil, according to Hesiod. Hephaestus created her from clay, shaping her perfectly, Aphrodite gave her femininity and Athena taught her crafts. Hermes was ordered by Zeus to teach her to be deceitful, stubborn and curious.
Pandora was given a box or a jar, called “pithos” in Greek. Gods told her that the box contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever. Then Hermes took her to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus, to be his wife. Prometheus had advised Epimetheus not to accept anything from the Gods, but he saw Pandora and was astonished by her beauty, thus he accepted her right away.
Pandora was trying to tame her curiosity, but at the end she could not hold herself anymore; she opened the box and all the illnesses and hardships that gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Pandora was scared, because she saw all the evil spirits coming out and tried to close the box as fast as possible, closing Hope inside.
According to Hesiod Hope indeed stayed inside because that was Zeus’ will; he wanted to let people suffer in order to understand that they should not disobey their gods. Pandora was the right person to do it, because she was curious enough, but not malicious.
The myth of Pandora’s box has been fascinating people since ever, catching the imagination of countless artists, who created frescos, mosaics and sculptures depicting Pandora and the mythological elements. The myth itself though appears in many different versions; the most distinctive difference is that in some myths Hope does come out. The main purpose of the myth of Pandora though is to address the question of why evil exists in the world.
The birth of Pandora was represented on the pedestal of the statue of Athena situated at the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens.
Rye, Rhubarb & Beer Porridge
One of our most usual breakfasts is porridge. We usually vary between oatmeal and buckwheat porridge. This is a Danish porridge that originally is called øllebrød, and is made of old rye bread and beer. A simpler and much healthier version is just to make it on rolled rye or rye flakes, water and a dash of organic light beer (2,8%). The beer is optional. It’s not something we usually incorporate in food, but it releases such interesting flavors into the porridge. Don’t be scared by it, lost of people don’t like the taste of beer at all, but ends up loving this porridge. And all the alcohol disappears as you boil it, so no worries about getting drunk before lunch.
We topped it with rhubarb from our garden at the museum, lightly cooked into a compote with fresh apples as sweetener. They taste so fresh with a hint of sweetness and tartness. If you like it sweeter you can add some agave or maple. In Denmark they traditionally also serve this porridge with whipped cream, but we use yogurt. It’s truly a breakfast for champions.
Rye, Rhubarb & Beer Porridge Serves 4
2 cups rolled rye (similar to rolled oats) 3 cups water 1 1/2 cup organic light beer (2,8%) or water 5-10 dried prunes (depending on how sweet you like it) 1 tbsp grated lemon zest 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp ground vanilla
Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 5-7 minutes, while stirring. Serve with warm rhubarb compote (see recipe below), vanilla whisked yogurt and roasted hazelnuts or almonds, walnuts whatever you choose.
Rhubarb & apple compote
2-4 stalks fresh rhubarb, sliced 2 red apples, cut into cubes 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp ground vanilla
Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 7-10 minutes, stir occasionally. Do not over cook it, you don’t want the rhubarbs to lose their color and texture too much.
You can do extra and can it for out of season use, at the museum we use a lot of
This can be done with any fruit, we just love rhubarb & apple (berries are a excellent option)
Vísdómr ok ást (Wisdom and Love) in old Norse
What would a Danish Valentines Special Edition be without a Viking tribute.
Vikings were not the barbarians that legend has implied. By the 9th century, Vikings had started settling into England and it has been said that English women preferred Norse husbands because they were very well read, plus they bathed and used combs.
I mean who could blame them right??
The Vikings cared about their looks. They bathed at least once per week, wore clothes with bright colors and a lot of jewelry. They also dyed their hair and wore make-up. A woman was beautiful if she had white hands and long and bright hair. The longer the hair was, the more beautiful she was.
When a woman wanted to express a romantic interest in the man, she made him a shirt. If a man fell in love, he would slap the woman across the face with a flower bouquet. Once official dating started, the couple could kiss each other in public. They drank from the same drinking horn and the
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