The braided heart (Danish: Flettet Julehjerte) is a traditional Danish Christmas ornament, that is used to decorate the tree or the doors or windows around the house, it is actually only the imagination that sets the limit to where you can hang the braided hearts.
The first braided heart was invented by the Danish storyteller and poet Hans Christian Andersen in the 1860s, where it was made from yellow and green paper, but without the handle, as we often use today.
The handle for the braided heart was added 10 years later in the 1870s, so the heart could be used as an ornament for the Christmas tree.
Today the braided heart is being made in all kinds of colors, and we have a tradition in Denmark, where we sit and make them together with our children. Making your own Christmas ornaments with your children or your loved ones is a really good way to get into the Christmas spirit.
The children feel a special kind of pride, when their braided heart hangs on the Christmas tree, after they spend a lot of time with a scissor and a bottle of glue, to make their own.
It is believed that it was the children in the kindergartens from around 1910, who started spreading the knowledge of the braided Christmas hearts. These pleated hearts were made in the same way as the ones H.C Andersen made, which was by using glossy paper with two different colors.
The pedagogues thought at the time, that if the children made a braided heart, it would help with their development, and the children would enhance their creative abilities, patience, and fine motor skills.
When you make a braided Christmas heart, you can choose any two matching colors you want, and don’t worry they are not as difficult to make, as they might seem.
DIY make a braided Christmas heart
- Download the braided Christmas heart template here.
- Print out the template.
- Pick two different pieces of colored paper.
- Fold the paper in the middle.
- Place the template on one of the pieces of paper at a time and draw a line around it.
- Use a scissor to cut out the three pieces.
- Now you can begin braiding the heart.
- Look at the images, and follow this guide to braid the heart: 3 through C / 3 over B / 3 through A / 2 over C / 2 through B / 2 over A / 1 through C / 1 over B / 1 through A.
- When you have finished braiding the heart together, take the long rectangle that you cut before, fold it in the middle, and add glue to the sides that are facing out. You don’t need to use the handle if you are not going to hang it on the Christmas tree. They can also be hung on the doors or windows around the house.
When your braided heart is finished, it can be used as a heart basket for all your favorite treats. You can also try and bake some of the traditional Danish Yule treats, such as the small cakes called ”pebernødder”, which fits perfectly into all kinds of heart basket sizes.
Making a heart basket while listening to some Xmas music, is also a great way to teach children about mathematics in a fun way during December. They can try and figure out their own measurements, to make the braided Christmas heart as big or as small as they want.