One of my favourite holiday traditions is attending the annual Danish lunch thrown by friends from my university days. Nicolle is proudly Danish (and husband Andrew is an honorary Dane) open their house each December for an all-afternoon eat-fest that includes lots of herring (I like the mustard dill version), toasts with aquavit (a kind of Danish schnapps), and plates of cold cuts, cheese, breads and more passed up and down the table. It's great fun to visit with friends (especially now that all of our kids can play on their own), and I love being part of a holiday tradition that is so very different from my own (which is an English-Canadian hybrid).The meal ends with a traditional Danish Kringle -- a giant pretzle-shaped pastry filled with sweet almond paste, and drizzled with chocolate and icing, and sprinkled with sugar and slivered almonds. It's totally low-cal. Ahem. And it's great with chocolate-covered marizpan. Danes are so attached to Kringles that the pretzle shape is a nationally-recognized symbol adorning bakery signs. I've heard that the recipe originated from Austrian bakers who filled in for striking Danish bakers--the pastry was so popular that it endured long after the Danish bakers were back to work. Ours came from the Danish Pastry House in Mississauga. If you've got a Danish bakery in your city, you should definitely track down a Kringle. Even though I'm not Danish, it wouldn't be Christmas without one. If you love Nordic fare, it's simple to throw together a friendly meal -- think rye breads, jars of pickled herring (really, it's delicious), cold cuts, sliced cheeses and pickles. If you're feeling more ambitions, you can try this Scandinavian Christmas Eve smorgasbord, too. Just don't forget the aquavit. Skoall!