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jeanne d

’arc a touch

Merry Christmas!


Visiting them all has been a great inspiration, and we hope that this atmosphere shines through in this book through the many beautiful photos and texts.


Behind the title of this 2nd Christmas book from Jeanne d’Arc Living is the essence of our passion as well as that of many others through several years. In the book, we visit 9 wonderful Christmas homes, all of which are located here in Denmark and have a touch of French country style. The homes all have the elements that we associate with the style, yet they’re all very different and personal.

of france

ISBN 978-87-92843-13-5

Jean n e d ’ Arc Livin g Viv ian Christensen Lonnie Wür tz Jensen

Touch A



Jea n ne d’A rc L iv i n g V iv i a n C h r i sten sen L on n ie Wü r t z Jen sen


Je a n ne d’A rc L iv i n g V i v i a n C h r i st e n se n L on n ie Wü r t z Je n se n

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P h otog r aph y : L on n ie Wü r t z Je n se n

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1. I N T RODUC T ION......................... 5 2 . DAN I SH C H R I S T M A S.................. 6 3. RAW C H R I S T M A S W I T H P RE T T Y DE TA I L S ....................... 12 4. RU S T IC C H R I S T M A S W I T H A T W I S T ....................................... 3 4 5. C H R I S T M A S I N A L L I T S S I M P L IC I T Y ................................. 5 0 6 . F RENC H B OH E M I AN . . ................ 6 0 7. T H E NAT U RA L WAY ................... 78 8 . T H E NA M E OF T H E RO S E.. ........ 96 9. C H R I S T M A S W I T H F RENC H EA S E.. ........................... 10 8 10. AU T H EN T IC F RENC H C H R I S T M A S ................................. 13 0


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Introduction By now, we’ve known most of the families that we visit in this book for a while. Our shared interest in decorating and lifestyle has brought us together in different ways. They’ve all invited us into their decorated Christmas homes and shared with us their traditions, values and, not least, their good ideas. What they all have in common is that their homes reflect the passion for the French/Nordic country style. Yet they live very differently and with very personal styles. Naturally, they all love Christmas with all the traditions that it involves as well. Not for the sake of the traditions or other people... but simply because they love it and can’t help it. They want to decorate, bake and make candies. They want to invite you and me inside and share it with us. It has truly been a great pleasure for Lonnie and myself to visit them all. We’ve really felt welcome and have come away with so much inspiration. In every place, we were overwhelmed by the wonderful atmosphere and interesting people... We hope that you’ll find as much enjoyment from getting a peek into these beautiful Christmas homes, and that we can pass on the atmosphere through our photos and texts. Merry Christmas!

Lonnie and Vivian


hristmas C


Throughout this book, many of the families that we visit explain that they celebrate Christmas in the traditional Danish way. There are many traditions and not all of them are followed by all Danes, but here is a brief overview.

The Advent Wreath

The ChristmasLuncheon

Advent Wreath. On the first of the four

accompaniments with the annual

Sundays before Christmas Eve on

Christmas parties featuring a luncheon

December 24th, the first candle is lit.

which are thrown by most Danish

Another candle is lit each Sunday so that

companies and many private clubs as

on the fourth Sunday of Advent, all four

well as families and circles of friends.

candles will be burning at once. Adventus

Most hotels, inns and restaurants offer

is Latin meaning ’to come’ and it is, of

traditional Danish Christmas luncheons

course, the countdown to what’s coming

throughout all of November and

on Christmas Day: the birth of the Infant

December. Different kinds of fish belong

Jesus, which is marked with this custom

to the traditional luncheon. Always

in almost every Danish home. The

pickled herring together with which the

Advent wreath is traditionally made from

aquavit is enjoyed. Additionally, warm

fir but these days, there are many

dishes are served. These might be


breaded and fried fish filets, fried

To the Danes, Christmas starts with the

The Calendar Candle Oftentimes, the Advent wreath is

supplemented with a calendar candle. It’s divided into 24 sections, numbered from 1 to 24. The candle is lit daily starting on December 1st in most families as a cozy and calming focal point at breakfast or at the dinner table. It’s usually the children’s responsibility to blow out the candle


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aquav it


popu lar

medister sausage, frikadeller, roast pork with rind, Danish liver pâté with bacon, or roast duck. Various cold cuts and cheeses with fruit also belong, as does the risalamande rice pudding with cherry sauce.


Christmas Cards

Christmas calendars with windows to

Christmas traditions which is thriving

open each day as well as a calendar with

especially well in Denmark is that of

24 small gifts – or alternatively, an advent

keeping in touch with friends and family

calendar with slightly bigger gifts for the

through handwritten Christmas cards

four Sundays of Advent. As with all other

or letters. Danish Christmas letters and

Christmas preparations, they serve to

Christmas cards often carry special

build up the excitement before Christmas

Christmas Seals in addition to regular

Eve. Many adults also give each other

stamps. Julemærkefonden – one of the

calendar gifts.

oldest aid organizations in Denmark –

Children often have one or several

One of the many more sympathetic

publishes the Christmas Seal, which happens to be the oldest in the world of its kind. The idea came from Danish Postmaster Einar Holbøll, who took the initiative in 1904 to release the first Christmas Seal. The design changes each year and everyone is free to submit suggestions to how the Christmas Seal of the year should look. As such, the Danish Queen Margrethe II was behind the design one year. Profits go to the four Danish Christmas Seal Houses, which annually receive over 700 vulnerable children for a recovery stay, free of charge.


L ight


Lucia Pageant

Christmas Baking

is the saint of light (lux = light in Latin).

preparations pick up noticeably in most

She is celebrated the night between

Danish homes because everyone has

December 12th and 13th. This primarily

been programmed right from childhood

takes place in schools, retirement homes

with the seed to those exact rituals that

and institutions across the country in

are necessary to create a real, old-

the form of pageants with singing.

fashioned Christmas. Christmas may

According to legend, Santa Lucia wore

have become commercialized but most

a ring of candles on her head to keep

Danes by far give pride of place to the

both her hands free while illegally

free preparations full of Christmas spirit

passing out food and drink to her fellow

when planning the biggest party of the

Christians, who were hiding in the

year. During the last two weeks leading

catacombs beneath old Rome.

up to Christmas, large supplies of

According to Catholic faith, Santa Lucia eav y hearts Night ly, go h and stead ing Rou nd farm ts, ere su n depar On eart h, wh spread ing. shadows are , darkest n ight T hen on ou r t er sh in ing ligh Comes w it h h ! ! Sankta Lucia Sankta Lucia , darkest n ight T hen on ou r t er sh in ing ligh Comes w it h h . , Sankta Lucia Sankta Lucia il l. g, huge and st Night-dark li n ing’s st irri ng! Hark, somet h nt rooms, In al l ou r si le e wh isp’r ing! Wingbeats ar ere, r th reshold th Stands on ou r, ghts in her hai W h ite clad, li ! ! Sankta Lucia Sankta Lucia ere, r th reshold th Stands on ou r, ghts in her hai W h ite clad, li ! ! Sankta Lucia Sankta Lucia l fly away Dark ness shal h ly portals. T h rough eart l ch wonderfu She bri ngs su ortals! words to us m n renewed Daylight, agai sy-hued! w il l rise, al l ro ! ! Sankta Lucia Sankta Lucia n renewed, Daylight, agai sy-hued. w il l rise, al l ro ! ! Sankta Lucia Sankta Lucia

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As Christmas approaches, the Christmas

traditional Christmas baking, such as brown sugar cookies, crullers, vanilla


rings, honeycake and pepper cookies,

Christmas candy is also made in most Danish homes. Marzipan, soft nougat, nuts, almonds, dates, candied berries and chocolate coating are indispensable elements to this production.

are made, and this naturally always takes place with the children as key players.

Christmas Crafts

While the oven is working at full stretch, Christmas hearts are being cut and woven along with other Christmas ornaments out of silver and gold foil and colored paper. All schools and institutions have Christmas craft days where everyone brings out the scissors and glue to make





The ChristmasTree

Decorating theTree

Danish Christmas tree should be of the

it’s more of a free-for-all – although

good old kind: Norway spruce. But when

within certain fixed limits. There should

the custom of the Christmas tree was

be a star on top, and the lights should

first brought to the country a couple

preferably be real, lit candles. If the old

hundred years ago, central heating didn’t

traditions are being upheld, the tree

yet exist. All homes were cold and

should also be festooned with Danish

clammy and thus perfectly suited for the

flags, paper cones filled with cookies

Norway spruce, which is otherwise very

and candy, small toy instruments and

prone to dropping its needles when the

tinsel. In previous times, the head of the

temperature rises. Today, it’s a different

family decorated the Christmas tree

situation, which is why many other types

alone. Only after dinner was finished

are now used. To many people, it has

and the children were so tired and queasy

become a nice tradition to pick out and

with anticipation that they were no

cut down their own tree, but most have

longer able to get the optimal enjoyment

to buy their Christmas tree from one of

from the event, would the tree be

the stands that are set up by the thousands

ceremoniously presented to the rest of

all over the country specifically for the

the family. This is why today it is

occasion. Many times, the Danish boy

customary that the children play an

scouts and girl scouts conduct the sale

active part in decorating the Christmas

of Christmas trees. This way, they’re not


To stay completely true to tradition, the

As far as Christmas tree ornaments go,

only doing a good deed, they’re also making money for their organization.





The Night before Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

December 23rd, the night before

In Denmark, the main celebration takes

Christmas Eve, has a Christmas

place on Christmas Eve, December 24th.

atmosphere of its very own. For many

As is the case for other major holidays

people, it’s the first day of the Christmas holiday. A lot of Danes take the opportunity to have Christmas gettogethers with friends and family whom

as well, the evening before the actual day is the main event. Just think of New Year’s, Midsummer Day and the many other holidays and events celebrated throughout the year. Most families eat

they would otherwise not be able to see

just a light lunch and try to get the

in the near future due to the many

children to take a midday nap. Of course,

obligations in the days after Christmas.

they never succeed because the kids are

Small gifts are often exchanged, the

too excited. In the past, it was customary

children have æbleskiver and juice and

to give the animals a slightly bigger and

the menu consists of rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and a big pat of butter on top. The most hardy partygoers will drink “nisseøl”, a low-alcohol Christmas

better meal because according to superstition, they would be able to speak on Christmas Eve, and you wouldn’t want them to speak badly of their humans! Many people then go to church

brew, with their porridge but it’s OK to

for the Christmas service, not so much


for the sake of religion but to keep up a nice, ceremonious atmosphere. Around 6 pm, dinner is usually about ready. Most Danes eat roast duck on Christmas Eve, but goose and pork roast are close contenders as well. Christmas dinner usually doesn’t include an appetizer. The duck or goose is served stuffed with

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prunes and apples and with sides of red

cabbage, pickled beets and plain boiled

andles C

as well as candied potatoes. Dessert

estimate, only about half of the carols

consists of rice porridge, if you’re very

that are sung on Christmas Eve are of a

traditional, or ‘risalamande’, a sweet rice

solemn character. The rest are upbeat

pudding with almonds, topped with

folksongs that encourage repetitions and

warm cherry sauce. A single whole

chain dance. When the children’s

almond must be hidden in the dessert.

patience for Christmas carols has been

The one to find the almond receives the

depleted, the time to open presents

“almond prize”, a small gift purchased

together has finally arrived. By mid-

especially for the occasion.

evening when all the presents have been


on Christmas Eve is important. As an

opened, refreshments of fresh fruit,

The Dance around theTree

candy, Christmas cookies and coffee are often served. Danes often turn in early on Christmas Eve, usually before midnight.

Once Christmas dinner is finished, the

On Christmas Day, most people can

candles on the tree are lit. To many

sleep in and the children have peace and

Danes, this moment brings about a

quiet to enjoy their Christmas presents.

solemn mood. There are an abundance

Duty doesn’t call again until the day after

of Danish Christmas hymns, and each

Christmas. Then it’s time to have a large

of them touch on subjects that hold

Christmas luncheon with the closest

special memories to the individual

relatives and possibly very close friends.

families because they’ve been sung through generations and are part of the


private Christmas ritual. Even the order in which they are ceremoniously sung


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When we decided to make this book, our first thought was, ’We have to go see Anette then!’ We know her unique, creative skills as she worked for the magazine here at Jeanne d’Arc Living for a number of years. We’ve also visited her several times

in this connection. We know how much she loves Christmas and how she can become adsorbed and completely engrossed in absorbed. Visiting her in the time running up to Christmas was sure to be a hit. We certainly were not disappointed.


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Anette has a gift for using the things she loves the very most in new contexts around Christmas. Old vinyl records in patinated sleeves suddenly become fun decorations dressed with green and Christmas tree candles. In other places, antlers become part of a decoration. The overall theme is rustic with a twist of fun details. The table arrangement with old, French candy boxes as cutlery holders is simultaneously unique, nostalgic and rustic. 


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At Anette’s house, it’s not truly Christmas until the home is decorated. This always takes place well in advance of the 1st Sunday of Advent. Classical Christmas music is played while the boxes of Christmas decorations are brought down from the attic. The family doesn’t listen to any other kind of music at all throughout the month of December. To Anette, this creates the ultimate Christmas mood. It must be the calm and soothing classical kind… it’s practically therapeutic to Anette and instantly puts her in the Christmas spirit while she enjoys putting up the decorations. Christmas means a great deal to her and always has. Anette would never be able to travel during Christmas. On the other hand, she is fond of travelling throughout the rest of winter. The


entire family love snow and skiing and like to travel to where the snow is.




The family consists of Anette, her husband Jacob and their two daughters, Mathilde and Josephine. The style in the couple’s home is a combination of traditional country with elements of the industrial style which is very popular these days. It’s raw, rustic and simple – a style which Jacob likes a great deal as well due to the masculine elements. Antlers and fur are some of their favorite things. They’re used in the décor year-round and around Christmas time as well, of course. Anette makes her own decorations and wreaths. The materials are collected from nature – by her. She doesn’t mind climbing the tallest tree to get a pine cone or a beautiful top!

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Anette is store manager at ”Ville Des Roses” in the town of Mariager. The store is a dream come true for her. Anette was on board from the beginning in 2011 when the store was owned by her father. She was given a completely free rein on how it was to be shaped. The store sells both new and old applied art, furniture, delicacies, a bit of clothing and flowers. A small café has been set up together with the store, selling coffee and cakes. Now that Christmas is near, burnt sugar almonds, gløgg and æbleskiver, the traditional Danish donuts, are also served in the café, which is set up with a “men’s corner” that sells specialty beers, wine and whisky. There are soft, old leather couches where today’s paper or the stacks of countless magazines can be enjoyed together with a cup of good coffee.


B iscotti


You’ll need:

Mix in 7 oz whole almonds (with skin).

2 C Flour

Shape into logs a bit larger than your

1 1/8 C Sugar

thumb and place on a baking sheet

1/2 tsp Baking powder

lined with parchment paper, allowing

1 pinch Salt

plenty of room between the logs. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350-400


degrees. Once slightly cooled, cut them

Combine all of the above ingredients.

on the diagonal with a very sharp

Stir in 2 eggs – and you never think

knife. After they’ve cooled completely,

the dough is going to come together…

they will be quite crunchy (especially

Until, finally, it might actually turn

if they’re not too light when removed

out a bit sticky after all.

from the oven) and don’t need to be dried. However, it’s important not to bake them at too high of a temperature as this can cause the biscotti to be doughy inside.

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D etails


In the time leading up to Christmas, evening classes are offered on how to make ornaments, wreaths and advent decorations. Even the first year, it was a big crowdpuller attracting customers from near and far. Be sure to book your spot early if you want to take a class. Anette is a trained decorator, which both her home and the store clearly show. The decoration is accomplished with a clear flair for details. Thus her everyday life is filled with arranging, decorating and beautiful things. One might think that she would get enough of it and not have the energy to decorate at home but that’s not the case at all. She simply loves all the creative activities and simply can’t get enough of Christmas.


H eirlooms



Some of the good times at home are when Jacob has gone out and the children are tucked in for the night. Then it’s time to sit down and make pretty, little arrangements. She’s particularly fond of old items with patina. They work their way in everywhere. However, it should preferably be things that have a special connection to the family. Your relationship to an item is different when it’s an heirloom. An old postcard in the kitchen is from Anette’s paternal grandmother. It has the family name on it… in meticulous handwriting. It has much more meaning than a random card purchased in France.

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A touch of france