Christmas Eve Dinner (Danish-American)

The informant describes how his Danish family celebrates Christmas each year in San Francisco.  The informant details the Christmas Eve dinner and a game involving rice pudding and an almond at the end of the meal.  The informant explains that he learned this tradition from his Danish family and has partaken in the tradition every since he was a little kid.  The tradition of the dinner has sentimental value for him because he has done it for so long with his family.

The informant explains that his Danish-American family celebrates Christmas Eve in a distinct fashion.  The family always has a roasted duck for dinner and after eating the duck the family always eats a bowl of rice pudding, but plays a game along with the eating of the pudding.  The family places an almond into a large bowl of pudding and the goal of the game is to pass the bowl of pudding around with each participant taking one scoop of pudding until someone finds the almond.  The participant who finds the almond typically wins a prize.  Traditionally the prize was marzipan, but the informant explains they do not eat that anymore because it does not taste good.  The trick of the game is to do your best to keep it a secret if you have found the almond because you want to make your other family members continue to eat the pudding without them knowing the game is actually over.  The informant explains that he actually added a variation to the game by putting in two almonds into the pudding without letting the others know.

I find the Danish celebration interesting as it varies largely from the celebration in the United States.  There are apparent Danish adaptations to the celebration of Christmas as seen with the roasted duck meal and the rice pudding game with the almond.  I have never heard of either of these practices in traditional U.S. Christmas celebrations.  The games give possible deeper insight into the traditional food eaten within the Danish past and how they play games.