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Danish Traditions for the New Year Celebration

Most Danes celebrate New Year’s Eve in the company of friends. A traditional Danish New Year’s Eve party usually starts out with a glass of champagne at 18.00, when Queen Margrethe is giving her New Year’s Eve speech. The speech is given in Rigsdansk, a special clear pronunciation in Danish, and always concludes with the Queen stating “God save Denmark” (Gud bevare Danmark).

Afterwards Danes enjoy a nice multi-course menu. Traditionally, cooked codfish with mustard sauce and vegetables was served in Danish homes on New Year’s Eve, but today many Danes prepare exotic and alternative specialties for their New Year’s dinner.

Just before midnight many Danes gather in front of the television to watch the short movie in black and white “90-års fødselsdagen” (original title: “Dinner for one” but also known as The 90th Birthday) from 1963.

After this short movie the television will show the clock from the tower of the Main Hall in Copenhagen – everybody is waiting for the clock to strike 00.00. When the clock strikes midnight many Danes jump down from a chair or above a string (symbolizes the hope for better times/eases the transition) and then wishes each other a happy new year. At this point, a choir performs “Vær Velkommen, Herrens År” (Welcome to the Lord's New Year), which embraces the new year, followed by the Danish national anthem and the Danish Monarch song.

Shortly after people gather in the streets to set off fireworks, and at the many parties the champagne is opened and the traditional kransekage (marzipan ring cake) is served.

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