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DANISH TRADITIONS

New Year’s Eve in Denmark: How to celebrate in style

With no coronavirus restrictions in place, Danes will once again be able to freely participate in many of the country's much-loved New Year's traditions in 2022.

New Year celebration
While the celebrations in 2020 and 2021 were limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditionally, New Year's Eve in Denmark is marked by wild parties and popular customs. Photo by Myriam Zilles / Unsplash

While the New Year’s Eve celebrations of 2020 and 2021 were somewhat restricted due to the pandemic, traditionally, New Year’s Eve in the country is characterized by wild parties and a number of widely-loved customs.

For many Danes, this New Year’s Eve will once again involve gathering with friends to eat a meticulously-prepared three-course meal and follow time-honoured traditions before drinking and partying into the night.

While major cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus will be crowded with partygoers again, many others will celebrate the occasion with close friends and family at home.

Regardless of your celebration preferences, The Local has compiled a list of Denmark’s most popular traditions for celebrating New Year’s Eve that are likely to take place this year.

The 90th Birthday

Also known as Dinner for One, this 1963 black-and-white comedy sketch is shown year after year in Danish homes as the old year draws to an end. The skit enjoys high popularity in Germany and Scandinavia – especially 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

As is the case every year, Queen Margrethe will address the nation at 6 pm on December 31st, just as the New Year’s Eve celebrations begin to peak.

The annual message often includes ethical and cultural issues, and the monarch also tends to accentuate the need for solidarity in Danish society.

It is also customary for the Queen to express her gratitude to Danish service members stationed abroad.

When Queen Margrethe signs off with her famous “God save Denmark” (Gud bevare Danmark) line, it will be time for dinner.

Jump into the New Year

Another broadly enjoyed custom – when the big moment comes, many Danes will get up on a chair so that they can literally jump into the new year.

Things might get a little risky for your ankles and your furniture after all that schnapps, but hey, it’s a special evening, so go for it – just try not to knock over any tables!

Fireworks

Fireworks are still very popular in Denmark. As the evening progresses, expect to see (and hear) a steadily increasing flow of fireworks set off by those who can’t wait for the chimes of midnight.

At midnight, the crescendo of fireworks climaxes into a thundering pyrotechnic show – expect the sound of firecrackers to keep the skies alive well into the early morning hours.

Note: Almost 180 Danes were admitted to the emergency room due to accidents related to fireworks on New Year’s Eve of 2021-2022, so exercise caution if you’re joining the fireworks party.

Godt nytår!

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WORKING IN DENMARK

How many public holidays does Denmark have compared to other countries?

Denmark’s government wants to reduce the number of public holidays on the national calendar by one from 2024 onwards. But does the Nordic country have more or fewer days off than other countries in Europe?

How many public holidays does Denmark have compared to other countries?

The Danish government wants to abolish springtime public holiday Great Prayer Day in a move it says will enable increased spending on defence. A bill was tabled by the government earlier in January.

The policy has met with criticism, but how do Denmark’s public holidays stack up against other countries?

Denmark has 10 national public holidays, including some which always fall on a weekend. Up to 4 extra may be given depending on the sector you work in, your employer and collective bargaining agreement (if a trade union member).

If the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given.

The holidays are: January 1st (New Year’s Day); Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Great Prayer Day; Ascension Day; Whitsunday; Pentecost; December 25th (Christmas); December 26th (Boxing Day).

If the plan to abolish Great Prayer Day is adopted, it will take effect from 2024, so you’ll still be able to enjoy the holiday in 2023 at least.

Some industries also have May 1st (Labour Day) as a day off, while June 5th (Constitution Day) is a holiday for banks and government workers, with most shops closed too by law, but this is optional for the private sector.

Christmas Eve (December 24th) and December 31st (New Year’s Eve) are not public holidays, but many employers treat them as such.

READ ALSO: When are Denmark’s public holidays in 2023?

Even before Great Prayer Day is scrapped, Denmark rarely comes out on top when comparing the number of public holidays to other countries in Scandinavia and Western Europe.

Norway, like Denmark, has 10 national public holidays including some which may fall on a weekend.

Norway does not mark Great Prayer Day, which is unique to Denmark, but does celebrate both Labour Day and the national day, May 17th, as public holidays. If the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given in Norway.

Sweden has nine national and three extra ‘de facto’ public holidays. If the holiday falls on a weekend, you do not get an extra weekday in lieu.

People in Sweden get January 6th (Epiphany) off work and also celebrate Labour Day as a holiday on May 1st.

Midsummer’s Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not national public holidays in Sweden, but the majority of employers treat them as such. 

In many Swedish workplaces or collective bargaining agreements, there are additional public holiday policies. The most common include a half-day before certain public holidays (Epiphany, Walpurgis and All Saints’ Eve), or ‘bridge days’, so that if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the Monday before or Friday after is given as an extra day off.

Germany has 9 national public holidays, including some falling on a weekend, and up to 13 regionally. If the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given.

German public holidays include German Unity Day on October 3rd and Labour Day on May 1st.

Many states have extra holidays including, but not limited to January 6th (Epiphany) in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt; March 8th (International Women’s Day) in Berlin and October 31st (Reformation Day) in a number of states across the country.

The United Kingdom has between 8 and 10 public holidays (also known as bank holidays) during the course of the year, depending on which country you’re in.

Northern Ireland has more public holidays (10) than England, Scotland and Wales (all 8). Scotland’s bank holidays are not exactly the same as those in England and Wales.

In 2023, the UK will have an additional bank holiday for the coronation of King Charles III. Last year saw two extraordinary bank holidays related to the monarchy: one in June for Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee, and one for the Queen’s state funeral in September.

Unlike many other countries, the UK is accommodating if a bank holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. In such cases, a ‘substitute’ weekday becomes a bank holiday, normally the following Monday.

France has 11 public holidays – or 13 in the historic Alsace-Lorraine region. However, if the holiday falls on a weekend, in general no substitute day is given, so the actual number of extra days off that French workers get varies from year to year.

There is also the curious case of Pentecost, which for some people is a public holiday and others an opportunity to work without getting paid. Yep, you read that right

So are there any nearby countries which actually have fewer public holidays then Denmark?

In Switzerland, there are only 4 public holidays nationally and the Swiss communes with the fewest paid public holidays have only 5 in total. However, there are up to 16 regionally.

If the holiday falls on a weekend, the Swiss do not get an extra weekday in lieu.

Several public holidays are marked by a majority of regions, but not quite all. These include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Pentecost and All Saints’ Day.

Some other public holidays are marked by multiple regions, and some cantons have their own holidays, including March 1st (Republic Day) in Neuchâtel; June 23rd (Jura Independence Day) in Jura; and June 29th (Feast of St Peter and St Paul) in Graubünden and Ticino. A few local communes also have additional public holidays.

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