Lynda Balslev: A candlelit tradition

We break Danish tradition in our home by lighting our tree candles the weekend before Christmas. This way, we can open our home to friends to enjoy the experience, which has become its own tradition.

If you celebrate Christmas, when do you get your tree? We wait until the week before Christmas to get ours. It’s important that our tree is fresh and not dry for the holiday, because we celebrate Christmas Danish-style: by lighting live candles on the branches. Live candles are traditional on Nordic Christmas trees. It may sound risky, but when closely managed, it’s quite safe and rewarding for its beauty.

The candles are inserted in special weighted holders perched on the branches, and the flames self-extinguish once the candles melt down to their base. It’s a magical sight, traditionally first done on the eve of Christmas, or julaften, which is celebrated with a big holiday dinner.