13 January 2012

13 January - 20th Day of Christmas; Glogg

This is the Octave day of Epiphany, and traditionally the day dedicated to commemorating The Baptism of Our Lord (which was celebrated last Sunday in the new calendar).

It is also the 20th and last day of Christmas in Scandinavian tradition.

"Saint Knut drives Christmas away"

Knud IV, the devout Christian King of Denmark, was murdered in 1086 as he knelt at the altar.  He is the patron saint of Denmark, and his feast is celebrated on the 19th of January.

Except in Sweden and Finland, where it is celebrated on the 13th of January. [Yes, children, I have seen the claim that today is named in honor of Saint Knut’s nephew, also name Knut, but he was murdered on the 7th of January.  If we are going to dream up reasons, then I offer that perhaps today honors both, just splitting the difference between their feasts.  It’s just as plausible.]

For the descendents of the Norsemen, today - Tjugondag Knut or Tyvendedagen - is the 20th and last Day of Christmas.   Christmas trees are lit one last time and then dismantled, the decorations are carefully packed away, the greeting "Glaedlig Jul" is used for the last time, and the last Christmas parties are held.

Twentieth day Knut
Driveth Yule out.

Sip GLOGG while you enjoy the sight of your decorations one last time.

Fill a saucepan with 1-1/2 cups of water.  In a cheesecloth bag, tie up 3 whole cardamoms, 8 whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, and a strip of orange rind.  Add this to the water and bring it to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of blanched almonds and 1/2 cup of golden raisins and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Add one bottle (750 ml) of red wine [dry or sweet, your choice.  The recipe calls for Bordeaux], the same amount of port, and 1/2 pint of brandy.  Bring to a quick boil, and remove from heat immediately.  Cool, and store, covered, overnight.

Before serving, remove the spice bag.  Heat the Glogg (do not boil).  Add sugar to taste and serve in heated mugs or glasses.

This makes about 20 servings, if you are using punch cups, less if you are using tall mugs.

If you just cannot wait, simmer together the wine, brandy, and spices for about 45 minutes, strain, and serve.