The 11 Best Danish Traditions

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

After living in Denmark for the last three years, I've discovered many interesting and different traditions. The Scandinavian countries as a whole have lots of traditions that vary from southern Europe and the US.

Even though I miss many American traditions such as Halloween and Thanksgiving I love learning new practices. Here are several traditions and celebrations that I enjoy.


J-day marks the start of the Christmas season and is usually the first Friday in November. The ‘J' stands for 'Juleøl,' which translates to Christmas beer. On this day Tuborg releases its Christmas beer, which started in the 1990s.

On a regular year, Tuborg trucks come into town, as do horse-drawn carriages, and they deliver free beer to anyone in sight! They also toss out lots of free Christmas swag like Santa hats and t-shirts. Most of the swag displays, “Glædig Jul og Godt Tub'år,” which is a spin-off of “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

This holiday likely was sparked after this “J-Day” commercial aired in 1990 and became loved by the Danes. It's the longest-running commercial in danish history and runs every holiday season:

Christmas: on the 24th of December

Christmas is the highlight of the Danish winter. Denmark is cold and very, very dark in December. The shortest day of the year only has six and a half hours of sunlight. Although dark, the streets fill with Christmas lights and deliciously sweet, buttery flavors.

Firstly, Christmas itself is celebrated on the 24th of December. A Danish family will typically gather together to eat a traditional meal of roast duck or pork, boiled potatoes, red cabbage, and gravy. For dessert, they make risalamande, which is a creamy cold rice pudding with warm cherry sauce; in one bowl, there will be hiding a full almond nut. Whoever gets the almond wins a lovely present!

After dinner, they open presents and hold hands and sing around the Christmas tree, decorated with real candles. The rest of the evening is usually enjoyed by candlelight, drinks, and lots of “hygge.” Christmas lunch is also a popular affair, as are big Christmas parties among colleagues. I adore the Danish Christmas traditions. You can read about my first Danish Christmas experience here.

Jumping into the New Year

Danish New Year's traditions include standing on chairs, or anything really, right before the clock strikes 12. It is tradition to actually “jump” into the New Year on this public holiday.

If you forget to jump into the new year, you'll have bad luck the entire year. Just make sure you jump carefully, particularly if you're in a room full of people who've had a few too many. Also, look out for fireworks. Danes don't do the 4th of July, so on New Year's Eve, they pack all the TNT you can imagine!