A beloved holiday: Learn about Danish Christmas and New Year’s traditions

by Emilie Døssing Dahl Jensen

Denmark, a country known for its beautiful landscapes, rich history, and friendly locals, comes alive during the festive season.

Christmas and New Year celebrations in Denmark are full of traditions, creating a magical atmosphere that grasps the Danish concept of “hygge” – a feeling of coziness and comfort.

It is especially around the holidays, the Danes have their traditions.

And Christmas is no exception.

Many Danes start the first Friday of December. The day is known as J-dag where you drink Christmas brew.

It is an important tradition for many. You’ll find many cheerful people on the streets that day.

Christmas preparations

A recurrent tradition is the Christmas Calendar TV – series. There will be one episode per day from the 1st of December till the 24th of December.

The Calendar light is a candlelight with numbers from 1 to 24. Every day you light the candle, and on December 24th all the numbers will have been burnt.

A lot of parents also have calendar gifts for their children, one present for each day, or one every Sunday, until Christmas.

The Danes love to decorate and party, and you see that clearly around Christmas and New Years.

For example many city squares in Denmark have a huge Christmas tree with a lot of lights and decorations. The city invites you to see the lights get turned on for the first time.

Almost every workplace has an annual Christmas lunch with curry herring and schnapps. The Christmas lunch is one of the traditions the Danes are the most fond of.

At the Christmas lunches, the Danes will play a lot of games. One of these games is ‘pakkeleg’, where you play to win presents by throwing a dice.

New Years

After Christmas comes New Year’s Eve. In Denmark, we dress up, maybe with hats, party with friends, drink champagne, and celebrate with fireworks.

You will find most Danes in front of the television at 6 o’clock. Because that is when the beloved queen gives her annual New Year’s speech.

It is a summary from the year that has passed and her best wishes to the Danes all around the world. It has become a tradition to try to guess what color her dress is.

Finally, when the clock turns midnight a lot of Danes are jumping from chairs to enter the New Year, drinking champagne, eating “kransekage” (a special type of cake) and going outside to light their own fireworks.  

If you have some questions about Christmas and New Year’s Traditions in Denmark, don’t hesitate to reach out to International House North Denmark at:

  • info@ihnd.dk
  • +45 99311530

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