Danish Traditions

In Denmark we have several traditions. Many of them are our own, but traditions we have taken from other countries and added our own eccentricities to make it our own traditions. Like many other countries we celebrate birthdays, baptisme, wedding, anniversary, funeral and easter and christmas, but we do it in our own way. I want to tell you shortly how we celebrate these days. I am not going into details, but do mention the things I believe we do different.

You can take the long ride through the hole page or you can choose which traditions you want to take a closer look at.

Contents:

Anniversary

Baptism/Christening

Birthday

Christmas

Confirmation

Danish Traditional Holidays

Graduation

New Traditions

Shrove-Tide

Wedding


Anniversary

In these days a marriage do not last for long, so it is getting more popular to celebrate 12 ½ years of marriage. It is more normal to celebrate 25 years of marriage (Silver wedding).

The first picture is from my sister and brother in laws 12½ year of marriage.

The second picture is from my parents 25 years of marriage

It is a  tradition to make a triumphal arch of spruce with light and flowers. When someone celebrates 12 ½ years of marriage, they do only get a half triumphal arch.

It is the neighbours, family and friends who makes the triumphal arch, and the couple who celebrates 12 ½ or 25 years of marriage invites them all for breakfast on the big day.

As in many other countries we have names for some of the anniversaries. Here is a list of the names.


1st year of marriage Paper-Wedding

1nd year of marriage Cotton-Wedding

3rd year of marriage Leather-Wedding

4th year of marriage Flower-Wedding

5th year of marriage Tree-Wedding

6th year of marriage Sugar-Wedding

7th year of marriage Wool-Wedding

8th year of marriage Bronze-Wedding

9th year of marriage Willow-Wedding

10th year of marriage Tin-Wedding

11th year of marriage Steel-Wedding

12th year of marriage Silk-Wedding

12½ year of marriage Copper-Wedding

13th year of marriage Lace-Wedding

14th year of marriage Ivory-Wedding

15th year of marriage Crystal-Wedding

20th year of marrage Porcelain-Wedding

25th year of marriage Silver-wedding

30th year of marriage Pearl-Wedding

35th year of marriage Coral-Wedding

40th year of marriage Ruby-Wedding

45th year of marriage Sapphire-Wedding

50th year of marriage Gold-Wedding

55th year of marriage Emerald-Wedding

60th year of marriage Diamond-Wedding

65th year of marriage CrownDiamond-Wedding

70th year of marriage Iron-Wedding

75th year of marriage Atom-Wedding


Baptism/Christening

Baptism or Christening is something we all know about. Every child must have a name. The name we choose can be a familyname, perhaps fathers name, or to be named after a famous person. I Denmark that is usually a name used in the Danish Royal family. In these years it has become more natural to give children old names. Names which was almost forgotten 10 years ago, but now they are back.

In Denmark you have to Baptize or name a child before he/she is 1 year old. I don´t know why but I know for sure that it is a lot easier to carry a small child than a bigger child. I said before that you can baptize or name the child. Denmark has become a nation with many nationalities and we have the freedom to practice the religion we like, but not all of them are recognized as legal, but the most common are. That gives you the opportunity to choose. And if you don´t believe in any God at all, you can choose to name the child yourself. All you have to do is to announce it to the local authoriry.

But many of the danish citizens choose to get their child baptized in one of our many churches. It usually takes place on a sundaymorning where we normally goes to church. It doesn´t seems like a big ceremony. The priest says a few words from the Bible and ask what for the childs name. The he/she baptize it with water on the childs head. When the child is baptized the parents and family can choose to leave the church or stay and follow the rest of the normal ceremony.

This is a picture of my sister standing with our newly baptized Nephew

After being baptized many people choose to celebrate the event with a party for family and friends. It can be a big party, but that is usual when we are talking about the first-bormed. Normally there is lunch for the family.

The child is usually wearing a white dress, with blue ribbons for boys and red for girls. The dress can be new but most parent likes to use the family-dress which they wore themselves when they were baptized.


 

Birthday

We all know what that is about. Celebrating birthday is something almost everyone do. A childs birthday is very important to the child. It is the day where he/she gets presents, birthday-cake and usually choose what to eat at dinner-time. In Denmark the first birthday in a childs life is important. The child don´t really care. All the presents are nice, but the paper the presents was wraped in, is more fun. When we celebrate the childs 1st year, most Danes give the child a birthday-cake for themselves. They get to eat it by themselves in their own way. It gives the parents a lot of cleaning up, but it is fun to watch and the child is having a great time putting the cake all over the body.

Birthdays are usually being celebrated with family and friends. In my family a normal birthday is almost a normal day. The close family comes to dinner and later on the rest of the family comes by to have a cup of coffee and a piece of the birthday-cake.

Celebrating your 30th year: That´s the day where you become an adult, and poor you if you are not married. We have the tradition to give a big pepper mill to the unmarried 30 year old. The mill is usually made of two big oil-drums filled with cement and painted. It is not easy to remove. The day is being celebrated with family and friends.

When we get older, normally 50 years old, it is time for the big celebration. Some people don´t like to celebrate that day, because it reminds them of how old they are getting. Other people throws a big party for family and friends. If they have enough room htey celebrate it at home, but many choose to rent a place. They eat fine food and sometimes rent a musician to play during dinner and later on so people can dance. These kind of birthdays takes place in the evening and during the night. If people don´t like to throw these big parties they can choose to have what we call Open House. It usually starts with an add in the local newspaper, inviting family, friends and everyone to come. Most open Houses starts at around 1 o´clock in the afternoon and people can come when they want to come after 1 o´clock. The food is from a buffet and people can eat all they can.

No Danish party without songs. If you celebrate anniversary, confirmation, wedding or birthday with a party for family and friends, you have to prepare your voice. It is a tradition to sing at these parties. The song is made for the person we celebrate and it contains stories about the person. You can write the song yourself or pay someone to do it. The melody is always an old and wellknown. These songs are called occasional songs.


Confirmation

This is a picture of me, taken when I was 14 years old and newly confirmed. Look at my fine dress. It was a big day.This is a tradition for christian boys and girls when they are 13,14 or 15, and the big day takes place in Spring and autumn. After the ceremony people usually throws a party with music, songs and all the other things that makes a party Danish.


Christmas

Christmas is a feast we all know, so there is not much to tell about that. In the afternoon on the 24th of December most Danes goes to church. In my house santa claus comes when we are back from church. Then we eat Chickensoup, roast pork and duck and the Rice á l ámande with 1 big almond in it. And we open the presents on the 24th of December after dancing and singing around the christmastree.


Danish Traditional Holidays

As in all other countries, we have some days of every year. Days where we can stay at home. Some of the Holidays is not on a certain day, but are following the calendar.

1st January - We all know that is a day where we just want to stay in bed.

6th January - Twelfth Night. The time where the holy 3 kings came and gave Jesus their presents. In Denmark it is a tradition to take all the christmas decorations down and put it away. If we don´t do it that day, it all have to stay up until Easter.

February - Quinquagesima Sunday is also in February but the days change from year to year.

March-April - Palm Sunday. Do also change from year to year

March-April - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Day and Easter Monday do also change from year to year. It is a tradition to celebrate Easter Day with a very big and luxurious lunch with lots of alcohol.

5th May - It is the day where we celebrate the liberation of Denmark (the end of World War 2) We used to have that day off, but not anymore. But we still have the tradition where we put candlelight in the windows in memory of those who died in the war and to celebrate that night where we no longer had to use blackout curtains.

May - Is a Danish Public holiday, falling on the 4th Friday after Easter. On that night we eat a special kind of bread.

May - Ascension Day. The day where Jesus went to his father in heaven.

June - Whit Sunday and Whit Monday. Also a religious Holiday.

5th June - Constitution Day. The day where we got our Constitution. It was once a holiday, but now the children goes to school and adults goes to work but only untill 12 o´clock in the afternoon. Then it is a tradition to take part in meetings all over the country. They usually hear some good music and listen to some politicians speaches. This is the big day for the working class.

24th June - Midsummer Day. A day children like. It is not a day where people don´t work, but the night is wonderful. We celebrate the summer with big bonfires. On these bonfires there is a witch (today it is only a doll) and when it is on fire the witch flies to the Brocken. This is to make peace in our country.

11th November - Martinmas Eve. Not a real holiday with the day off, but it is a great day for those who likes to eat. Now we don´t call the man Martin but Morten, and it is a sad day for the geese, becaurse Morten was hidding himself among the geese but they revealed him, so now we eat them that day.

25th December - Christmas Day. You know that one. Eating and eating and eating.

26th December - Boxing Day. The same again. We eat.


Graduation

 

Every  summer a lot of young people passes the upper secondary school leaving examination. They get their student ´s cap when the last examination is over and if their grades are good enough.

On the picture you see a dear friend of mine , Susanne. There are different kind of student ´s caps in Denmark and you can see the differents on the ribbon on the cap.

Higher Trading Examination = Royal-blue ribbon

Higher Technical Examination = Navy-blue ribbon

Higher Preparatory Examination= Light blue ribbon

Highschool = Red ribbon


New Traditions

Things like Valentines Day and Halloween is new in Denmark. It started a few years ago and are still not so popular here, but it is becoming a tradition. In a couple of years we will know if it is here to stay.


Shrovetide

An old tradition, celebrated 7 weeks before Easter. In Denmark we celebrate quinquagesima with "Shrove Tide twigs". Usually the twigs are filled with candy, and are given to the children early in the morning. In the afternoon many associations throws a party for the children. At these parties children have a lot of fun with music and games and they are all dressed up. The highlight of the party is when the children have to "knock the cat off the barrel" (I have not been able to find the exact sentence, but take a look at the picture, maybe it will help you see what I mean.

This is my nephew

We use a white barrel with a picture of a cat. In former times they used areal cat which was inside the barrel. Today the barrel is filled with candy.The rules a different from place to place, so I will only mention one of them. The child who knocks the bottom out of the barrel becomes Cat-King and the child who knocks down the last board becomes Cat-Queen.

On shrove Monday when the children comes home from school they get dressed up again and then they go out in the town with their collections bowes and sings for people, and then they gets money.


Wedding

Almost every girl dreams of becoming the most beautiful white bride and it is also a day we celebrate with lots of fun and it cost.

You can choose to be married in a church or at the Town Hall and in some cases the priest or Mayor can be talked into doing it somewhere else. The ceremony itself is as in many other countries. You have to promise to love and honer eachother. But we saying in Denmark. If it rains on the married couple when they leave the church, they will have a good marriage.

The party is important and that time where we have most fun and where we really have many traditions. Most of them and not Christian, but who cares.

The party is almost always at a rented place and while the married couple opens their presents, some of the guests pays them a little visit at their own house. This visit is to welcome the couple. This is fun if you know where to draw the line. This is what we did when my sister got married. First of all lots of margarine and toothpaste on all the windows and mirrors. Rice in their bed and remember to sew the sleeping quilt together with the sheets, that gives them some trouble getting into bed, and when they finally gets there, they have to struggle with the rice. Then the dirty part. Before the wedding you have to remember to buy some porno magazines. These magazines is being places all over the bedroom and in the windows together with all their underwear, just to help them with some inspiration. If they have a flagstaff you also put some underwear up there. The last step is to place the paper from a toilet roll all over the house and outside. Throw it up the roof and trees. That gives them some work to do. You have to return to the party as soon as you can. Now the car they are going to leave in is also something you have to do something about. The most normal is to place cans behind the car so it makes a lot of noice, but you can also place some hard boxes under the car. They have to be just so big that you have to lift the car to put them under, but then you also have the fun when they try to leave and the car is going nowhere. All these things are fun, but remeber not to break anything.

At the party there are several traditions. You can place a candle on the table in front the the couple. If it is a steady flame the marriage will be the same if not, well then it will not be a happy marriage.

Kissing: Yes, off course there is a lot of kissing at a wedding, but if the bride leaves the room (usually to go to the ladies room) all the girls at the party runs to the groom to kiss him. The same happens when the groom leaves the room, but then it is the men who runs.

Of other traditions at a wedding I can mention tearing the brides bridal veil apart and cutting the grooms socks. The last thing is done to tell the groom to stay in the marriage.

The married couple has to leave the party before midnight, because they have to consummate the marriage before another day begins.

As in many other places the bride has to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.