I experienced my first Danish Christmas Fair over the weekend. It's sponsored every November by the Danish Seaman's Church, with is located in a brownstone on Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights. The fair takes place in that church as well as the Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church on Henry Street, because the two churches are "friendly" with one another.
I paid a call on the German church first. The festivities were well underway in the basement. Quite a crowd I was struck by the enormous number of blonde heads. Nearly ninety percent of the people were fair-haired. Then my ears adjusted and I realized that everyone, but everyone, was speaking Danish.
The scene was very wholesome, and could have been taking place in Duluth, Minnesota. Long tables with red paper tablecloths filled with families eating Danish delicacies. Said delicacies were served at another long table by the kitchen from the hands of a series of nice, middle-aged Danish women. Mainly open-faced sandwiches, topped with shrimp, pork and red cabbage and other meats. Each was $4. "Kaffe" and "Te" were $1. Authentic almond-flavored danish was $2 and was out-of-this-world yummy.
One the walls were portraits of former leaders of the Lutheran church. Also black and white photographs of grand gatherings at various long-gone Brooklyn hotels, with groups of grim-looking Germans trying (and failing) to smile for the camera.
From there, I went on to Willow Street, where, I was told, there would be more in the line of gift-buying opportunities. This was true. Danish cheese products, smoked fish, lots of bags of Haribo chewy candies, Christmas decorations, klogs, candles, Danish flatware and china. Lots of Danes again. Where do they come from? You never see them on the streets of New York in everyday life? Throw a fair and suddenly there are hundreds.
The Seaman's Church also had more eating opportunities. Out in the back yard was a tent where it seemed all the big Danish fun was happening. "Danish hot dogs," beer and "glog," which was described as a Danish mulled wine, with red wine, "various liquors" and fruits and spices. The glog was pretty good, but the hot dog was fantastic. It was topped with ketchup, mustard, chopped raw onion and dried onion flakes. The dried onions lent an interesting and flavorful crunch to the dog.
I would have liked to have stayed in the tent, had a couple more hot dogs and a few more globs. But I had to get back home. I left the church with my mood measurably improved and my spirit all holidayed-up.