On this day: a future Queen arrives in Britain

The_Landing_of_HRH_The_Princess_Alexandra_at_Gravesend,_7th_March_1863_by_Henry_Nelson_O'NeilThe Landing of HRH The Princess Alexandra at Gravesend, 7th March 1863 Henry Nelson O'Neil di

Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the future Queen of the United Kingdom, is depicted in this painting by Henry Nelson O’Neil arriving in England on the 7th of March, 1863.

Alexandra travelled to Gravesend in Kent, England by royal yacht to marry Prince Albert Edward, the future King Edward VII.

The royal couple married three days later, on the 10th.

On this day: a Defiant King in Denmark

King Christian X riding through Copenhagen on his 70th birthday, 26 September 1940. The picture was taken during the German occupation of Denmark.

King Christian X of Denmark is photographed here riding through the streets of Copenhagen on his 70th birthday on the 26th of September, 1940.

The image was taken during the Nazi occupation of the country. The King became famous for his daily rides unaccompanied by guards, a sign of defiance against the Germans.

The occupation began in April of 1940, and continued until the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 at the end of the Second World War.

On this day: the German invasion of Denmark

Danish_soldiers_on_9_April_1940 A squad of Danish troops on the morning of the German invasion, 9 April 1940, photographed near Bredevad i Southern Jutland. Two of these men were killed

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This photograph of Danish soldiers was taken on the 9th of April, 1940, the date of the German invasion of Denmark.

Two of these seven soldiers were killed later that day.

King Christian X on his horse. 1940. Defiance to teh Nazi occupation of Denmark.

During the occupation King Christian X became a prominent figure of defiance, seen riding unaccompanied through the streets of Copenhagen.

The Nazis occupied the country until the Allied victory on the 5th of May, 1945.

On this day: the first edition of Berlingske

Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest still-running newspaper, was first published on the 3rd of January, 1749.

Berlingske, Denmark’s oldest still-running newspaper, was first published on the 3rd of January, 1749.

Front of the first edition.

Originally named Kjøbenhavnske Danske Post-Tidender, the paper was founded by Ernst Henrich Berling and is conservative-leaning.

The Little Match Girl

 The Little Match Girl

Shivering with cold and hunger she crept along, a picture of misery, poor little girl! The snowflakes covered her long fair hair, which fell in pretty curls over her neck; but she did not think of that now. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a glorious smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s Eve. Yes, she thought of that!

Regularly – incorrectly – referred to as a Christmas story set on Christmas night, Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic tale, The Little Match Girl, actually takes place on New Year’s Eve.

It’s easy enough to see why people make the mistake, as a Christmas tree is mentioned, amongst other things. However, you have to remember that in the past people weren’t ripping their decorations down on Boxing Day!

 The Little Match Girl tree

She lit a new match. Then she was sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree, with thousands of candles burning upon the green branches.

The Little Match Girl was first published in 1845 and tells the story of a poor girl who tries to make money by selling matches. However, in the morning she is discovered in the street, dead.

Andersen was my favourite storyteller back when I was a child. There was something about his tragic, decidedly non-Disney endings that spoke to me. I’ll never forgive Disney for ruining The Little Mermaid!

Here is what trusty Wikipedia had to say about the plot of the book:

On a cold New Year’s Eve, a poor girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is freezing badly, but she is afraid to go home because her stepfather will beat her for not selling any matches. She takes shelter in a nook and lights the matches to warm herself.

 

In their glow, she sees several lovely visions including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star, then she remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone has died and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.

 

Running out of matches, the child dies and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the child dead in the nook and take pity on her. They do not know about the visions she saw, or that she will not be cold or hungry any more in Heaven.