Danish word of the day: Fredagsbar

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish word of the day: Fredagsbar

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash and Nicolas Raymond/FlickR

If it’s Friday and you feel like some refreshment to begin the weekend, here’s a good place to start.


What is fredagsbar? 

Fredag is “Friday”, related – like the names of weekdays in many northern European languages, to Old Norse gods, in this case the goddess Frigg.

Similarly, Thursday and Wednesday are named after the better-known Norse gods Thor and Odin, respectively. The latter link – from Odin to Wednesday – is not that obvious in English, but moreso when you consider the Danish word for Wednesday, onsdag.

A bar is a loan word meaning “bar” in the sense of the counter you go to when you want to order a drink. Other types of bar have different words in Danish. If you are “behind bars” in prison, for example, you are bag (behind) tremmer.

Why do I need to know fredagsbar?

A fredagsbar is not a bar in the traditional sense, but a way for colleagues to gather for a drink on a Friday afternoon. There’s not really a bar involved at all – at least, they doesn’t have to be. Just bringing in a few bottles of beer and soda to share at the end of the day before leaving the office on a Friday is a fredagsbar.

The concept flies a little against the reputation Danes have for not wanting to spend any time with their colleagues outside of work hours.

Many foreign residents who come to Denmark to work comment on the fact that it is very hard to convince a Dane to go for an after-work drink, and in fact you might be seen as acting unconventionally if you do so.

Keeping this in mind might make the idea of a fredagsbar easier to understand. They are planned well in advance with all staff usually informed via notices or emails, usually take place at the workplace itself and do not prevent you from getting home in good time. As such, they fit well with the Danish custom of work-life balance.


Fredagsbarer are not exclusive to offices and are equally well known as being an element of student life, where they take on a somewhat different character.

Student life wouldn’t be student life without the chance to drink a beer or three with fellow academics, and Denmark is no different. The university fredagsbar is a weekly event on most courses: volunteers run pop-up bars set up somewhere on campus, usually close to where lessons are held during the week (or sometimes in large classrooms).

The bars are non-profit and beers are usually sold for the student-friendly price of 20, 15 or even as little as 10 kroner per bottle. Mixer drinks are also often available.


The bars usually begin in the afternoon on a Friday – as teaching is finishing – and start out as relaxing socialization before getting rowdier as the evening wears on. They are often given weekly themes and it’s not rare to see bar volunteers in costume.

Despite their amateurish appearance, these weekly bars require considerable work to set up, with permits to sell alcoholic drinks, (alkoholbevillinger), deals with suppliers and permission from the university amongst the things required before they can get off the ground.



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