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Traditions on New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is a night for saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new. As with the Christmas Holidays, New Year’s Eve is likewise associated with traditions and rituals in Denmark. It is a night, that really brings people to the streets to drink, sing, and celebrate together, though it might have to be a bit different this year due to COVID-19.   

Dronningens tale – The Queen’s New Year’s speech 

At 18:00, most Danes turn on their TVs to watch the Queen’s New Year’s speech. It was Christiam IX who began the tradition with a New Year’s speech in the 1980’s, and it has since then become nationwide. Some people might even bet on what words and phrases will be mentioned in the speech, as some of the themes return each year. 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).  

On January 1, the Prime Minister will also deliver a New Year's speech. 

“Dinner for One” 

Same procedure as last year. Just before the countdown to midnight begins, DR (the Danish national broadcaster) shows a black-and-white short film called “Dinner for One”, also known in Danmark as “the 90th Birthday”. It is a sketch about a New Year’s Eve meal between the rich and old Miss Sophie and her butler, James. James acts as stand in for Miss Sophies absent (she has outlived them) friends, causing him to get drunk. There was a year when DR decided not to show the film, but after strong protests from all Danes, it has been shown all years ago. 

The town hall bells with choir and jumping into the New Year 

The bells at Copenhagen City Hall helps you know when you have entered the New Year. When the bells strike the first bell at midnight between December 31st and January 1st, it is New Year. When the clock strikes midnight, many Danes will jump off a chair, table, sofa or the like, and jump into the new year. Literally jumping. One jumps into the new year to avoid stepping into the divide between the old and the new, and symbolise the overcoming of potential challenges in the upcoming year. It is followed by everybody breaking into a sing-along to “Vær Velkommen Herrens År” (translated into: Welcome to the Lord’s New Year) helped by the Girls’ Choir singing on the TV.  

Firework all night 

Danes are permitted to light firework only six days out of the entire year; from December 27th until January 1st. Danes love shooting off fireworks so brace yourself; it can get a little crazy, though it might be more limited this year due to COVID-19. There are many Danes who fire off their private arsenal, and they spend the evening firing impressive advanced rockets into the sky. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed about putting on safety goggles! Most people do (or at least should).  

Read more about the firework safety tips here

Kransekage – Wreath Cake 

At midnight, the wreath cake, which is a marzipan-based cake, appears, and it is probably the one day of the year where the Danes eat the most wreath cake. It is usually served with champagne to celebrate that you have entered the New Year. The cake comes in different sizes and shapes, where the tradition one for New Year’s Eve is shaped as a tower. 


… And the most important part about New Year’s Eve; remember to take care of each other. See you next year!  

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