Tuesday, 6 November 2012

St Martin's Day

We  have been invited out to dinner on Saturday  by some Danish friends of mine, to celebrate Morten's Aften. I could not remember ever celebrating this before,so without making an idiot of myself, which I am wont to do without much help from anybody, anyway, decided to use Google to find out more. 
To my surprise, it is not just a Danish tradition, but probably mostly forgotten in other parts. The Danes do take any excuse to have a celebration or special party, especially those in "exile" here in South Africa, I have found. My family in Denmark do not make a special tradition of 10th November, not that I remember, though I do know my aunt enjoy having a dinner with roast duck, calling it Mortens Aften.

 She is one for traditions and according to my cousins, the one holding the family together over there. Most of my mother's family live on the island , Sjaelland, while my father's family is from the island, Falster. We grew up on the island  Fyn and in those days, had to take a bus, the train and  a  ferry  to get to any of the family get together's , so not often, it happened. 

Anyway, I digress as I often do, when chatting away to you all. I asked the man, if okay by him as Kerry and her husband is coming up this weekend for a friend's wedding. They will be out, so fine we go out too. This is the first time we are actually going for dinner at Bette's house, we have been before for an informal lunch, but Saturday another Danish couple will be there, whom I know only slightly from The Danish Association and my good friend, Astrid, who lost her husband in 2005 will also be there. We will lightly pick her up on the way out there and drop her back again, so she don't have to drive alone. 

I am a bit apprehensive about this, which is unusual for me, mind you, I hate large crowds and I am not so good with meeting strangers or people I have to impress, I get very nervous. Not sure why feeling concerned, unless it is, that my darling cannot speak a word of Danish, but he knows Bette, Ib and Astrid, so that cannot be the problem. I have forgotten Danish dinner etiquette, that's it !  I asked Bette, what can I bring, she says nothing, can I bring a freshly baked bread, she exclaims in horror, we are not having bread for dinner and start telling me about the menu, the white boiled potatoes, the sugared caramelised baby potatoes, the red pickled cabbage, the duck etc.................okay, then............is it alright if I bring my own red wine, Why ??? Ib has got lots of wines.........you know my stomach etc and I prefer my Shiraz................silence...................well if you absolutely have to have a special kind of wine..............ooops, next one........Can I bring Russell's whisky? .................... surely he is not going to drink whiskey with the meal, besides, you are only allowed 2 drinks if you are driving..................oh, holy shit...............what have I done, better I phone Astrid and ask, does one bring a gift for the hostess, as we always do, like chocolates or flowers or is that going to be offensive too.

Our South African friends always brings their own drinks when we visit. We also often bring a salad or a   bread or pudding with, you organise who brings what. 

Now another problem..............Danes love to dress up !  I wonder if we must dress for dinner, I know when my friend Karin was here, also my aunt Conny and when my sister Pia was here...........they totally overdressed for dinner on all occasions. When I have been in Denmark, I also never had the right clothes with me, resulting in cousins and nieces lending me clothes when we were going out. We are very very casual, really......................I better ask Astrid that as well. 

Kransekage - a cake made from almonds and sugar, 


How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 300.
  • Grease a baking sheet extra well with softened butter, and dust with finely ground bread crumbs. Mix almond paste and powdered sugar (almond paste can be hard, if you've never worked with it, so add the almond paste a bit at a time, thoroughly mixing each bit in before adding more). Add egg whites and mix well. Place bowl in hot water and knead dough until it is lukewarm. Turn out on board sprinkled with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Let rest 10 minutes.
  • Knead 2 to 3 minutes, dusting your hands and the counter with the confectioners sugar instead of flour. Divide the dough into 18 pieces and roll each into a ball, slanting the palm of your hand downward toward the edge so that it "peaks" up in the center, kind of like a small hat, then turning the ends toward each other to form a ring (kind of like tortellini). Bake the rings for 20 minutes, then cool on tray — do not remove the rings from the tray until cool. Mix the frosting ingredients and drizzle on top of each ring, placing rings on top of one another. These are served at Danish weddings. They're also irresistible. Don't expect these to last, or make ahead for a party.

St. Martin's Day, also known as the Feast of St. MartinMartinstag or Martinmas, the Feast of St Martin of Tours or Martin le Miséricordieux, is a time for feasting celebrations. This is the time when autumn wheat seeding was completed, and the annual slaughter of fattened cattle produced "Martinmas beef".[1] Historically, hiring fairs were held where farm laborers would seek new posts. November 11 is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me." 


  1. I am sitting here laughing my head off at the fact that you've forgotten how to be a Dane!!! I guess that means you're almost fully assimilated into SA culture now. Thanks for the smiles. I hope you do enjoy your special evening :-))

    1. you are laughing at me *sniff* ............... is looking forward to it now, had a chat to Astrid about do's and dont's , she also laughed at me :-((

  2. An entertaining read my friend. I loved the giggles along the way. Hugggggs