In the early 1990s, the Danes began to celebrate Valentine’s Day as the great day of love.
Shrovetide ("fastalavn" in danish) is very much an event for children in Denmark. During Shrovetide, children dress up in costumes and visit neighbours while singing a Shrovetide in return they receive money or candy (very much like trick-or-treat at Halloween).
They also eat Shrovetide buns and beat a barrel full of candy (similar to a piñata).
Many clubs and shopping malls willoffer a Shrovetide event for children.
Easter in Denmark is an appreciated occasion where friends and family gather for “Easter lunch”. Traditionally, the Easter meal involves pickled herring, eggs, rye bread and beer and schnapps for the adults. Many homes and shops are decorated for Easter - especially with spring greenery, daffodils and Easter eggs.
As in many other countries, the Danes also tease each other with pranks and fictitious
stories on April 1st. The tradition dates back to the 17th century.
Great Prayer Day is a special Danish holiday, where several holy and prayer days have been combined into one day. It is designated as a national holiday on the fourth Friday after Easter Sunday.
In Denmark, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May with a day focused on mum.
May 1st is the international workers’ rights campaign and festival day, and is a holiday in
many workplaces. The day has gradually become more of a festival day than a campaign
After having been occupied by Germanysince 9 April 1940, Denmark was freed of
the occupation on 5 May 1945. When the liberation was announced during the 8.30
p.m. BBC broadcast on 4 May 1945, many Danes spontaneously placed lit candles in their windows. Today this tradition still remains with many Danes continuing to place lit candles in their windows on May 4th in recognition of the Liberation.
The Church festival Pentecost is a national holiday in Denmark. Some Danes have a
lunch tradition similar to the one at Easter, but the practice is less widespread. Watching
the Whitsun sun dance early in the morning is a Danish tradition. If the weather permits,
it is advisable to find a nice spot to watch the sun at daybreak (usually at about 4-5 a.m.).
Recently, youngsters have reinterpreted the tradition with all night celebrations in order to be awake to enjoy the sunrise.
June 5th is the anniversary of the first Danish Constitution of 1849. In many work places, the day is marked by a full or half-holiday. The 5th of June is also recognised as Father’s Day, which was introduced from the USA in 1935.
According to the legend, the Danish flag, Dannebrog, fell from the sky on 15 June in Estonia in 1219. Since 1913, the day has been marked as national Flag Day.
“Sankt Hans” is a celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, but it also marks the longest day of the year (Midsummer). Each year you can experience traditional Midsummer gatherings where Danes meet around bonfires to sing “Midsommervisen” - a song by the Danish poet and painter Holger Drachmann – and burn a symbolic witch. You will find public bonfires of all sizes around the municipality. The events usually start around 6 p.m., with the lighting of the bonfire and burning of the artificial witch around 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.
All Saints’ Day is celebrated in the church on the first Sunday in November, while in recent years the wider Danish population have also incorporated the tradition of American Halloween. Children dress up in costumes, for example as ghosts, and most kindergartens in Denmark will have a Halloween celebration for the children.
Martinmas Eve is the evening before St Martin’s Day, and many Danes eat roast duck on
this evening. According to the legend, Martin’s whereabouts were revealed by geese while he was hiding to avoid becoming a bishop. Therefore geese are to be eaten on this day every year. Most Danes do, however, eat duck in substitute for goose on November 10th.
The entire month of December is dominated by the Christmas holiday. The main shopping streets are festively decorated, a public ice-skating rink is constructed and a giant Christmas tree is erected in the main square.
In contrast to the family gatherings of Christmas,New Year’s Eve is mainly celebrated with friends. For many Danes the evening includes watching the 6 p.m. broadcast of the royal New Year speech, gathering together for a festive dinner with friends and family, watching the 18-minute recording of the classic comedy sketch “Dinner for One” and toasting with champagne at midnight. The Town Hall Clock in Copenhagen marks the beginning of the New Year, and most people watch the clock countdown on TV. Many Danes head outdoors after midnight to celebrate with a small fireworks display.
Many people also meet up at cafés or bars during the day on December 31st to wish
each other a happy new year. Usually cafés in the city will be full of people in the afternoon, and at night many restaurants and bars offer special New Year’s menus.