Danish Holidays and Celebrations

New Year’s Day (January 1)
There are a number of traditions for ringing in the New Year. At the stroke of midnight, the number of the New Year is written on the front door of the family home. Jumping up and down on a chair symbolizes jumping into the New Year, and having a coin in your hand will make sure you are never without money. Open-faced sandwiches are enjoyed with beer and snaps.

Eve of Holy Three Kings Day (January 5)
Danish folklore declares that single women may see their future husband in there dreams on this night.

Holy Three Kings Day (January 6)
This day signifies the end of Christmas and celebrates the Three Wise Men. Poor folk, in groups of threes, sang carols for coins.

Presentation of Our Lord Day (February 2)
Pancakes are enjoyed alongside beer, schnapps, and coffee.

Fastelavn (Spring Solstice)
This custom may date back over a thousand years. Danish children went door to door, dressed similar to Canadian Halloween. At a costume ball they beat a cat out of a barrel, which then ran from the village, taking all things evil with it. Children roused parents out of bed in the morning using a decorated willow switch. Buns baked with white flour are served.

National Day (April 16)
The present reigning Monarch’s birthday.

St. Hans Fest (June 21)
Food – Roast pork, beer, snaps. A midsummer feast is held on the longest day of the year, a tradition dating back to Odin and Thor. An effigy of a witch is burnt which signifies all evil disappearing into the sky as the smoke and witch’s ashes float away.

Mikkelsday (Harvest Festival) (September 29)
Big parties are held in barns decorated with moss and corn sheaves. Roast pork, beer, and schnapps sustain the festivities, which often go until daybreak.

All Saints Day (November 3)
Graves are made ready for winter.

Morten’s Evening (November 17)
Morten (315-397 A.D.) tried to hide from his duties as a Bishop. He hid among a flock of geese but the noisy creatures gave away his location. Morten took his revenge by declaring the Eve of Morten’s Day as the day for slaughtering geese. Roast goose stuffed with raisins, prunes, apples, pears is the traditional holiday fare.

Christmas Eve (December 24)
Most Danes eat roast duck on Christmas Eve, but roast goose or pork with crackling is also common. The duck or goose is stuffed with apples and prunes and served with boiled and sweet potatoes, red cabbage, beets and cranberry jam. The dessert consists of ‘ris à l’amande’ (rice pudding with whipped cream, vanilla and almonds) with hot cherry sauce or ‘risengrød’ (hot rice pudding). A peeled almond is hidden in the dessert bowl and the lucky finder of the almond gets a present.

New Year’s Eve (December 31)
Codfish is the traditional New Year’s Eve menu.