A sacrifice is a ritual, in which something is "consumed", i.e. killed, destroyed, eaten or given away. The sacrificed may refer to the giver's person or characteristics, e.g. may a farmer sacrifice cattle, or it may refer to the receiver, i.e. a sacrifice of wine for the god of wine. Or it may refer to a union of the giver and receiver. In all cases the ritual of sacrifice establishes a connection between giver and receiver. That, which is sacrificed, comes to represent both worlds, the present and the supernatural. Source: Gads Religionsleksikon, 1999.
A sacrifice does not need to be a personal offer, but this is often the case in Andersen's oeuvre. Indeed,
A pleasant and sweet fragrance streamed up from the rich clover field, where the bees buzzed around the old ruined meeting place. The altar stone, newly washed by the rain, glittered in the sunshine, and the bramble wound its tendrils around it. Thither the queen bee led her swarm, and they busily made their wax and honey. Only Summer saw them; Summer and his lovely wife. For them the altar table was covered with the gifts of nature.