New Year’s Eve is a night for saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new, something the Danes certainly know how to do with aplomb.
While big cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus will be filled with throngs of partygoers, New Year is for many Danes a chance to show that home is where the heart is, as close friends gather to follow time-honoured – and sometimes rather bizarre – traditions.
Here are some of the pillars of many a Danish New Year – incidentally, they are also the traditions we enjoy the most.
The 90th Birthday
Also known as Dinner for One, this ancient black-and-white comedy sketch is shown year after year in Danish homes as the old year ticks to a close.
No matter what else you do on New Year's Eve in Denmark, there is one thing nearly all parties have in common: an 11-minute television interlude to watch 'Dinner for One'. Virtually unknown in the rest of the world, the British-made skit from 1963 is loved in Germany and Scandinavia – not least in Denmark and Sweden.
Don’t forget to join in with the catchphrases: “The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?”
“The same procedure as every year, James!”
The Queen’s speech
In the United Kingdom, the Queen gives a sober televised speech at 3pm on Christmas Day. In Denmark, Queen Margrethe addresses the nation at 6pm on December 31st, just as New Year festivities are really getting into full swing.
The monarch’s annual message often touches on ethical and cultural topics, as well as the need for solidarity in society. She also often mentions what she and her husband, Prince Henrik, have been up to over the last year and takes time to thank Danish servicemen based abroad.
Meanwhile, Danes at home spice things up by trying to predict the colour of the Queen’s dress, how many ornaments will be placed on her desk, how often she will mention Prince Henrik and even how many times she will stumble over her words. The person who makes the most correct predictions wins a prize.
On second thoughts, perhaps predicting the Queen’s speech is just a feature of Danish New Year’s parties attended by The Local. One thing is certain, though – once she signs off with her customary “God save Denmark” (Gud bevare Danmark) line, it will be time for dinner.
The Queen gives her New Year's speech in 2016. Photo: Nanna Navntoft/Polfoto/Ritzau
Jump into the New Year
When the big moment comes, many people will get up on a chair so that they can literally jump into the new year.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with planting a big wet smooch on the person next to you – even better if you actually know them.
Once the clock approaches 8-9pm, a steady flow of fireworks will begin by those impatient souls who can’t wait for the chimes of midnight. And we’re not talking about professional firework shows here, but rather the private arsenal of Danes who spend the evening firing off impressively sophisticated rockets.
At midnight, this pyrotechnic show is taken up more than just a notch – the thunderous sound of firecrackers and rockets keeps the skies alive well into the early morning hours.
For those out and about, the party can easily run until the sun rises on 2018 and all of those New Year’s resolutions beckon.
Happy New Year!