The Boy On The Christmas Stamp

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In 1904 a Danish postal clerk came up with the idea of a charitable stamp that could be used on mailed Christmas greetings in order to raise money to fight tuberculosis. His idea was approved by the King of Denmark, and over the first six years enough money was raised through the sale of these Christmas seals to build a sanatorium in Kolding.

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I love these recent editions of the Christmas Seal featuring the cheeky Danish Christmas Elves (Julenisse)

In 1910 the face of the Danish Christmas seal was my Grandfather, Edward Møller, or Happy as we called him. Growing up I was so very proud of my Grandfather’s brush with fame, and to this day I still love the story of how he ended up as the face of the Danish Christmas in 1910!

Just after my Grandfather passed away my parents gave both of my brothers and myself a beautiful framed picture of Happy as a child with 4 original stamps. On the back is a translation of a Copenhagen newspaper article from December 1910. Most definitely one of my most treasured possessions!

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One may ask on certain occasions, “What shall we call the child?”. At other less solemn but more painful instances the question is, “Who is the Father of the child?”. In this case where there is absolutely nothing painful about it, and not so much solemnity that it would matter, we merely ask. “Who is the child?”.

The child is, first of all, the Christmas Stamp Child, the child whose handsome head shines from all the Christmas Stamps which are now being spread over the country to collect money for the small sick children. Secondly this child is the son of Engineer Møller. Of course the sequence is really the opposite – the boy was the son of Engineer Møller before he became the Christmas Child – but that is really immaterial.

How did it happen that he became the Christmas Child? Quite straightforward. When the committee wanted a child’s picture, one of the members, Emil Vett (founder of Magasin du Nord) went up to Miss Julie Laurberg, who has a studio in the same building, and looked through her collection. As Mr Vett thought it was the most handsome picture he had ever seen he naturally chose it. So now it has been reproduced in 6 million copies and that is surely a record, which even Poul Reumert will have difficulty in beating.

It is a few years since the photo was taken and at that time I am sure that neither the boy or his parents would have dreamt about the fame which he would later obtain. Thus the boy is now quite a big boy who is at school and even if he is not quite so handsome now, as he was at that time, his parents will nevertheless – judging from all the Christmas Stamps of him get much pleasure out of him. – Translation of a Copenhagen Newspaper Article dated December 14 1910

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. I will be knee deep in Roast Duck and all the trimmings…

Have yourself a very Hygge Christmas

Danish Garland

The Danish word hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary; whether it’s making coffee a verb by lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to lighting a candle with every meal.
Some refer to Hygge as the Art of Creating Intimacy (with yourself, friends and home). Words like cosiness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, fellowship, simpleness and living well are often used to describe the idea of Hygge. – http://www.hyggehouse.com

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… I love Christmas! Every year I think of my Grandfather, Edward Møller, or ‘Happy’ as we called him, and how his memory strongly influences Christmas in my household.
We lived with my Grandparents when we were growing up. My Grandmother passed away when I was quite young, but my Grandfather was with us until I was 19. I am so grateful for the time I spent with this wonderful and interesting man. I really enjoyed having him close, and loved listening to his stories of his life experiences, and his memories of growing up in Denmark. Happy was born in Denmark and moved to Northern Ireland, via Glasgow, after school. Even after more than 70 years living away from his native land, he was a proud Dane through and through.

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Happy (Edward Møller

Every year on Christmas Eve Happy would cook us the traditional Danish Christmas dinner of roast goose with red cabbage, and caramelised potatoes! Of course there would also be Risalamande (rice pudding served with cherry sauce).

I can’t remember the last time we cooked a turkey! Duck or goose is most definitely the meal of choice for the Møller clan.

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Left – last year’s Christmas Roast Duck
Right – rice pudding with cinnamon (risengrød)

My Grandparents room was always decorated with cheeky little Christmas Elves (Julenisse) over the festive season. They were hung off picture frames, door frames, off lamps… As a small child I loved these playful little Danish pixies.

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Julenisse

The Julenisse are the bearer of Christmas presents in Scandinavia and are described as a short man or woman wearing a red cap. Over the years I have picked up some truly beautiful little Christmas Pixies by Maileg, along with the Christmas goose and the snowman tree decorations. These little Pixies really do make me smile.

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Left – Maileg Pixie tree decorations
Middle – Maileg Pixie
Right – Maileg Goose and Snowman tree decroations

Growing up we always had a real Christmas tree, so of course now it has to be a real tree for me! I love the smell… it instantly transports me to my childhood; scrummaging through the presents under the tree, trying to figure out what was hidden under the wrapping paper.
I have kept my tree decor predominantly red, as a nod to my Danish heritage, and with my Maileg tree decorations I really do think of my tree as a tribute to Happy.

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Our Danish-themed Christmas tree

One of my favourite decorations is my Christmas themed Flensted Mobile.
Flensted Mobiles was founded in Denmark over 60 years ago now, and represents truly beautiful Danish design. I am hoping to add to my collection of Flensted Mobiles next year with the pieces below…

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Left – my Flensted Christmas tree mobile
Middle & Right – these are on my wish list for next year!

Christmas for me really sums up Hygge – family, dark nights, low lighting with candle light and fairy lights, cosy blankets, and the warming, comforting scent of the Christmas tree, and the smiles that the decorations bring. All these things encapsulate cosiness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, fellowship, simpleness and living well.

I love my little nods to a Danish Christmas, a tribute to a special Grandfather.

Hope you all have a very Hygge Christmas!

The Gift Of Giving – Perfect Presents

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Well, I have been a bit lazy with blogging of late. If I am honest, I have been enjoying the break, with a few weeks at home in Northern Ireland with my Dad and family, and then some time with my in-laws over the New Year. Not to mention catching up on Breaking Bad Season 5!!!!
So for my first post of 2014, I thought I would do a little recap on some of the fantastic finds I came across while Christmas shopping…

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Shopping for Christmas presents this year was mostly done by internet shopping. I really didn’t fancy trolling round the bustling Glasgow City Centre with a 9 month old, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have been too keen either!

I have to be honest, I love internet shopping… done from the comfort of your home, delivered to your door, and the greatest variety of goodies to choose from.
One of my go to sites for gifts is notonthehighstreet.com. There is a huge range of unique, personal, and beautiful products to choose from – a gift for everyone!

I came across this Why My Daddy Is Brilliant Book from Lou Brown Designs on notonthehighstreet.com… the perfect gift from Baby Squirrel to Mr Hungry Squirrel on her first Christmas!

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When ordering the book, you provide little snippets about the recipient, so that it can be personalised. There are also spaces for kids to draw in.
As Baby Squirrel is a little young to produce her own artwork, I inserted some photos.

Why My Daddy Is Brilliant

Mr Hungry Squirrel was over the moon with this gift, and declared it as his “best present ever”…
Good work Baby Squirrel! 😉

Another great find was Harland & Wolff Apparel. I actually came across this site through the Facebook page of Belfast-based artist and photographer, Aly McLoughlin-Harte.
Aly created this special edition print for Harland & Wolff Apparel…

A timeless Cityscape from the year 2013 that could just as easily have been captured in the 1970’s or 80’s when the workforce of H&W were proud to live in Belfast and work in Belfast, proud to be part of the greatest shipyard in the World.

I bought this beautiful print for my Dad’s Christmas present. I think this print is special for a number of reasons… Firstly my Grandfather worked in Harland & Wolff for most of his working life and met my Grandmother there. Secondly my Mother grew up in these streets featured in the print. I know that this print will have special meaning to my Dad.

After ordering this print from the Harland & Wolff Apparel site, I browsed through the rest of their site and found the perfect present for my brother…

The finest engineering workmanship has been cultivated over generations under the two great yellow-painted gantry cranes of Samson and Goliath. This is the only tee that brings both birth dates of the cranes and both S&G initials. Our most popular T !

My brother is an architect, now living in London,. Not only did he love the T-shirt for the design and meaning, but also as a reminder of home.

Well, those are my favourite finds for Christmas 2013. Maybe this post will give you some gift inspiration for special occasions in the year ahead!