New Years in Denmark

I was just reading one of those “wacky shit foreigners do” articles about New Years and read that in Denmark, they smash plates outside the houses of people they like.

I am nervous to say this, in case it means no one likes me or my friends, but this has never happened to me or my friends. Nor have I ever seen any broken crockery out and about.


What they do is this : a meal, a special cake, crackers, silly hats, jump off a chair at midnight and fireworks.

Apparently, you used to need a licence to set off fireworks at any other time of the year than NYE (this is no longer true, I hear), and so people really take their fireworks seriously.

They are also allowed to buy fireworks that are not available in my country to casual users. In the UK, you can buy some rockets and stuff but they don’t go that high. People go to organised events where pyrotechnicians who have access to the good shit, set them off in time to music.

We had three new years in my house last night. Greek first, then Danish, then British. At the Danish new year’s, we watched the fireworks in the town square in Copenhagen on tv then went outside and climbed a hill so we could see the fireworks around us. It was a clear night so we were able to see Fyn, it was pretty rad. We also saw an accident where the fireworks went sideways and then shot at other fireworks and then there was a fire after they all went off at once. It was really fun and nice.

Then at British New Years, we watched the display at the London Eye. This was viewed with admiration in the first two minutes and then irritation after the third minute. That will have come out of council tax, I explained. (Unless… was there a corporate sponsor?)

An advantage to this system is that the detritus is picked up. Denmark is a mess the next day because of all the cardboard tubes and boxes lying around the street.

So in conclusion. The broken plates thing isn’t a thing and I don’t know why the English-speaking media keep repeating it. Like, can’t they work google translate and check their facts? Where did the story come from? Is it an old thing they don’t do anymore? Is it a *shudder* Sjælland thing?

Happy New Year everyone!

One thought on “New Years in Denmark

  1. DEN STORE DANSKE Gyldendals åbne encyklopædi says about Nytårsskikke:

    Før fyrværkeriets tid i slutningen af 1800-t. gik folk rundt og “skød for døre” med jagtgeværer eller pistoler, eller man skaffede sig larm ved at knuse fx potteskår imod dørene.
    Mens nytårsskyderiet i København var en militærsalut for monarken, skød og larmede man på landet mere for at bortskræmme det troldtøj og de dæmoner, som ifølge folketroen var særlig farlige netop i skellet mellem det gamle og det nye år. Det er baggrund for selskabsspøgen at stille sig op på en stol og hoppe ind i det nye år og derved undgå at træde i skellet.

    (Fireworks were not in use before the end of the 1800s, but according to popular belief the noise was necessary to scare the trolls and demons away – and therefore the custom of smashing potsherds at doors.)

    The Danish Folklore Archives mentions by the way that seasonal greetings, parties and gift giving were linked to New Year rather than Christmas until the middle of the 1800s

    Happy New Year to you too!


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