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Danish word of the day: Solhverv

The word of the day describes two specific points on the calendar.

What is solhverv?

The solhverv is the solstice, from sol (sun) and hverv, an archaic word for “turning” which is found in modern Danish in erhverv (business or profession) and the verb at hverve, to hire or bring on board someone for a specific job or short-term role.

Solhverv is normally combined with sommer (summer) or vinter (winter) to describe the two solstices that happen each year, the summer solstice on June 21st and the winter solstice on December 21st.

The summer or June solstice is the day which (in the northern hemisphere) has the most daylight hours and is therefore closely related to midsummer celebrations in northern Europe.

A related Danish word is jævndøgn, “even day”, the term used to describe the spring and autumn equinoxes.

Why do I need to know solhverv?

Midsummer is a huge annual event in Denmark’s close neighbour Sweden, where it is celebrated with maypole frog dancing, drinking snaps and cream cakes.

While those rowdy scenes are not replicated in Denmark, the calendar milestone is closely linked to the Danish celebration of Sankt Hans Aften on June 23rd.

A celebration marking the shortest night of the year, Sankt Hans night is infused with customs that harken back to darker and more superstitious times in Denmark’s history. 

The traditional bonfires and singing in chorus on June 23rd are a community event valued by many across the country, with thousands of Sankt Hans bonfires taking place everywhere from small parks to nationally recognisable locations like the Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen or Aarhus University Park.

The celebration usually includes a speech by a prominent local figure, the lighting of the bonfire and an atmospheric rendition in chorus of the song Midsommervisen.

The chances of a glorious long red summer sunset or a grey, damp squib are probably about even. Although Sankt Hans Aften is traditionally seen as the peak of summer, Denmark’s climate often sees to it ending up a very wet affair.

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For members


Danish word of the day: Nar

Have a look at the word of the day. You'd be a fool not to.

Danish word of the day: Nar

What is nar?

The original meaning of the word nar is similar to the English ‘jester’: a person who entertains the public or an audience by making a fool of themselves or of others.

Its use evolved at some point in the past — not recently, as it’s been around for a while — and it is now an insult. So if you call someone a nar you are slighting them and they are likely to be offended, as it’s not a word that is usually used lightheartedly, unlike some old-fashioned insults can be.

To call someone a nar, by the way, the correct phrase is din nar. This literally means “your nar“, because din is a possessive adjective or pronoun (like ‘your’ or ‘yours’). However, din nar actually means “you are a nar“. The same grammar applies with all insults: din idiot, dit fjols, din taber (you idiot, you fool, you loser) or din klovn (you clown). The latter is a slightly milder synonym of din nar.

Why do I need to know nar?

It’s a punchy putdown, but as mentioned above — be careful how you use it. It’s not really a word you can use in jest. As such, you’ll probably hear it used more often to talk about someone in the third person than aimed directly at someone.

Nar is also used in a variety of phrases to mean variations of being made a fool out of or being tricked.

For example, at gøre nar af (“to make a nar of”) someone is to make them the object of ridicule or to make fun of them. If you holder nogen for nar (“treat someone as a nar“) you could either be scamming or tricking them or, similarly to before, making them look stupid.


Han går hele tiden rundt og lyver over for folk. Han er simpelthen en nar!

He just goes around lying to everyone. He’s nothing but an asshole!

Hvorfor har du spist min sandwich? Der stod mit navn på papiret. Din nar!

Why did you eat my sandwich? My name was written on the package. You idiot!