Nytår - New Year
New Years Traditions of Denmark
New Year’s Eve is a night for saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new and the Danes sure know how to do it in style.
Copenhagen will be filled with throngs of partygoers who are either taking advantage of the numerous special New Year’s menus and drink offers of the city’s restaurants and clubs or merely hanging out at public locations like the City Hall Square or Queen Louise’s Bridge.
For the majority of Danes, it is Queen Margrethe’s New Year’s Eve speech that signals the beginning of a night of the same old festivities. Starting at 6 pm sharp with a live broadcast from Fredensborg Castle, for many this is the starting pistol which legitimately starts the drinking, and you only have about six hours to wait before the strike of midnight, so hurry!
Her Majesty’s Speech
Her Majesty’s speech has been an annual staple since its advent by King Christian IX back in the 1880s. It has come to symbolise unity for the country, and gained stature during the Nazi occupation of Denmark when the speech came to represent a rallying cry for the country against the occupying German forces. Even today, the queen still takes this opportunity to summarise the year’s major political events, both global and local, and always gives a nod of thanks to the people of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Once Margrethe has given her salute to the nation with the words 'Gud bevare Danmark' (God preserve Denmark), it is time for the meal to begin. The New Year’s Eve menu stands in opposition to the calorific Christmas dishes consumed just a few days prior. The traditional New Year’s meal is boiled cod, typically served with home-made mustard sauce and all the trimmings.
Once the clock approaches 8-9pm, a steady flow of fireworks will begin by those impatient souls who can’t wait for the chimes of midnight. And we’re not talking about professional firework shows here but rather the private arsenal of Danes who spend the evening firing off impressively sophisticated rockets, keeping the skies alive well into the early morning hours.
Just before the final countdown begins, the Danish national broadcaster DR, shows a short film, Dinner For One, known in Denmark as "The 90th Birthday"
The 'comedy' centres on a New Year’s Eve meal between Miss Sophie, a rich, lonely old spinster, and her loyal butler, James, who acts as a stand in for Miss Sophie’s absent (read: dead) friends, including the amusingly named Mr Winterbottom and Admiral Von Schneider.
This black-and-white German sketch has been aired every single year since 1980 and the Danes love it, like, really love it. The film has bafflingly managed to embed itself deep into the nation’s heart, demonstrated when in 1985, DR foolishly refused to broadcast the sketch; the decision was met with a large public outcry and thousands of complaints to the network.
By 11.30pm, the atmosphere at Copenhagen’s City Hall Square will be absolutely electric as all eyes begin to keep close watch on the clock tower. The square will be jam-packed with revellers and even those who aren’t in Copenhagen can follow the action as broadcaster DR sets its cameras on the clock tower as the final minutes of the year ticks away.
Jump into the New Year
When the big moment comes, many people will get up on a chair so that they can literally jump into the new year. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with planting a big wet smooch on the person next to you – even better if you actually known them.
Danes are permitted to light fireworks just six days out of the entire year; so come New Year’s Eve, the skies, and the streets, are ablaze with hundreds of rockets and roman candles! For these six days, any health and safety precautions seem to fly out the window with the rest of the fireworks. So much so that Copenhagen’s Rådhuspladsen (the Town Hall Square) can become a war zone to an unsuspecting tourist.
From here on out, how you spend the night is up to you. For those staying home, the TV stations will be broadcasting a New Year’s church service (DR1) and concerts from the likes of Rasmus Seebach (TV2) and the husband-wife duo of Jay-Z and Beyonce (DR3).
For those out and about, the party can easily run until the sun rises on 2015 and all of those New Year’s Resolutions beckon.