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Same procedure as last year? How to celebrate New Year’s Eve Danish style

Same procedure as last year? How to celebrate New Year's Eve Danish style
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
Will you be ringing in the New Year in Denmark? Here’s our guide to greeting 2020 Danish style.

New Year’s Eve is a night for saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new, and Danes don't hold back on the celebrations.

While big cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus will be filled with throngs of partygoers, many take the 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.

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. It also happens to be our favourite Danish New Year tradition.

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. In the past, she often mentioned what she and her husband, Prince Henrik, had been up to over the last year. That part of her speech poignantly changed in 2018 after Prince Henrik passed away earlier that year. The Queen also customarily 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 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 famous “God save Denmark” (Gud bevare Danmark) line, it will be time for dinner. 


The Queen gives her New Year's speech in 2017. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix

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.

Given the amount of schnapps likely to have been consumed by this point, ankles and coffee tables alike are put at considerable risk by this custom — but that doesn't make it any less fun.

Fireworks

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 increasingly earsplitting rockets.

At midnight, this pyrotechnic show is taken up more than just a notch – the thunderous sound of firecrackers 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 2020 and all of those New Year’s resolutions beckon as a new decade begins.

Godt nytår! 

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Editor's note: Previous versions of this article were published in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Danish New Year traditions were largely unchanged throughout those years.