Public holidays in Denmark

Please take the following public holidays in Denmark into account:

  • Winter holiday for a week in February/March
  • Easter holidays 3/4 – 12/4
  • Great Day of Prayer 7/5
  • Ascension Day 20/5
  • Pentecost holiday 29/5- 31/5
  • Summer holidays 19/6- 8/8
  • January 1 New Year/ Nytårsdag
  • March 24 Maundy Thursday / Skærtor’s Day
  • March 25 Good Friday / Long Friday
  • March 27-28 Easter/ Påske
  • April 22 Day of Prayer/Day of Prayer
  • May 5 Ascension / Kristi Himmelfart
  • May 15-16 Pentecost/ Pinse
  • June 5 Constitution Day / Grundlov’s Day
  • June 23 St. Hans; Midsummer
  • December 24, 25 and 26 Christmas / July
  • December 31 New Year’s Eve/ Nytårsaften
  • Only the start date of the summer holidays has been determined, furthermore each municipality can choose until when the summer holidays last. There is no holiday spread. There is no official construction holiday in Denmark, but most large companies close during the first three weeks of July. These weeks are therefore the busiest weeks.

Sankt Hans, or Midsummer
Every year on June 23, the Danes celebrate Sankt Hans, or Midsummer. The changing of the seasons has been celebrated in Denmark for centuries with large bonfires. Large fires were made to drive away the witches and other evil spirits. Nowadays the fires are made on the beach. A witch with a broomstick is placed on the St. Hans fire to symbolically drive away all witches and evil spirits.

Red and white paper hearts, dancing and singing hand in hand around the Christmas tree with real candles, Danish Design and homemade Christmas decorations, an exciting dessert, ‘hygge’ and red pointed hats. It all has to do with the typical Danish Christmas traditions. Christmas, Jul (yule) in Danish, is considered the most wonderful time of the year for most Danes. It is a pleasant time of social gathering and traditions. The Danes attach great importance to this conviviality. In Denmark this is called hygge (hue-ge) – the typical Danish hospitality that is intimate, warm, modest and relaxed, as a source of a pleasant get-together. This hygge can be found all year round and everywhere in Denmark, but it reaches its peak during the Christmas period.

Nowadays, as in many other countries, the religious aspect has less significance. The Danish churches are usually packed around Christmas, but that has more to do with symbolism than with warm religious feelings.

Atmospheric and creative
Many festive and atmospheric events are organised, especially in the cultural sphere. Museums and other institutions often have interesting exhibitions and concerts are held in many places. There are also many nice markets where special products can be purchased. Department stores and other shops show a lot of design and creativity, restaurants and hotels offer tasty culinary specialties and streets and squares are decorated with streamers of Danish flags, colorful paper hearts and stars, everything made as much as possible from natural products.

Gløgg and æbleskiver
The Danes always have a very long run-up to Christmas. In many places, the Christmas season actually starts in the second half of November. Danish companies then invite their staff en masse for Christmas dinners (or lunches). These dinners are a tradition where the alcohol flows freely.

Don’t lose weight
Christmas in Denmark is the time for all kinds of (often home-baked) sweets and puddings. There are the æbleskiver, a kind of poffertjes. And of course it is the time for good and often strong alcoholic drinks, such as akvavit. In addition to akvavit, there is the special beer brewed at Christmas time: Julebryg, extremely popular with thousands of Danes. A popular drink during the Christmas period is also gløgg – warm red wine to which raisins, almonds, cinnamon sticks and cloves have been added. Furthermore, Aalborg Akvavit annually produces a special Julesnaps.

Danish Design
During the Christmas season, many special articles are published: Danish Design(ed) especially for Christmas. The blue year wall plates from the company Bing & Grøndahl are famous, of which more than a hundred have already been published. You will find a few of them in almost every Danish home.

Every year, Royal Copenhagen provides a gold-plated Christmas decoration as well as a new image on their decanter and accompanying glasses. These are also popular with collectors. The chic restaurant of Royal Copenhagen is an unparalleled crowd puller. Every year the company invites artists to set Christmas tables with its peerless porcelain, crystal and silver. Beautiful and very inspiring!

In Danish families with children, the Advent calendar is a recurring festive phenomenon. In the run-up to Christmas, the children can open a hatch on these special calendars every day. There is almost always a present hidden behind it. This makes the countdown an exciting affair.

There is also a Jule calendar on TV every year. From December 1 to 24 there is a broadcast of approximately half an hour every evening. A (continued) story is then told about Santa Claus and his ‘nisser’, helpers with red pointed hats that are reminiscent of gnomes. The program is watched by almost every Dane and is therefore loved by young and old.

Santa Claus and his ‘nisser’
Danish families are visited by the “Julemand” who carries a sack and is pulled by reindeer. His helpers are the “Julenisser”, the elves who live in the attic room and who love children and animals. On Christmas Eve, a bowl of sweet porridge is placed in the attic room to appease the Julenisser and they hope that it will be empty the next morning.
Santa Claus comes to Denmark from Greenland, the largest island in the world, which is still part of the Danish kingdom. It usually arrives from the second half of November. By boat, by sled or (as in Copenhagen) simply by train. There is always an extensive tour through the city, during which he is surrounded by dozens of ‘nissers’. They carry baskets with snacks, usually some kind of gingerbread. The delicacies are always generously distributed among the public.

Lille Juleaften
On December 23 it is ‘lille juleaften’ (little Christmas Eve). The family gathers and preparations are made for the Christmas party. Gløgg is drunk after a lovely walk in the woods or on the beach and then they make Christmas ornaments and other (tree) decorations together. A real ‘hyggaften’.

Christmas Eve, the ultimate Christmas celebration in Denmark
Christmas in Denmark is always celebrated on the evening of December 24th. It is first and foremost a family matter. That evening there will be an extensive Christmas dinner, where the family and the pleasant get-together are central. Traditional Danish Christmas food consists of duck, goose, turkey or flæskesteg with red cabbage, boiled potatoes and caramel-fried potatoes. The typical Danish Christmas dessert is rice with lots of whipped cream and almond pieces. Tradition is that one whole almond is hidden in the rice. The person who finds it is the star of the evening and can count on an extra gift. If all goes well, the almond ends up on the plate of the youngest person at the table.

Real Christmas tree
Every Danish family has a real Christmas tree, which is always only decorated on Christmas Eve. The tree is decorated with real candles, handmade hearts and small paper baskets (often filled with sweets) and streamers of small Danish flags. The Danes are proud of their national flag, the Dannebrog, and would like to show this again at Christmas. It is customary for family members to walk hand in hand around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and sing traditional Christmas carols, which everyone usually knows by heart. There are parcels under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve that will be distributed later.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day
On December 25, a Christmas lunch is customary, often enjoyed with family members and friends in the form of a range of cold and warm dishes. On the 26th, the family usually goes out for dinner with the relatives or friends who were at the table the day before. This often results in a gastronomic feast of the first order. It will be clear why shops and offices in Denmark are closed on December 24 and on both Christmas days. Museums, recreational companies and cinemas usually open their doors on December 26.

Santas Claus Congress
The Danes are very fond of their Christmas. Many people in Denmark are also busy with it at other times of the year. In the middle of summer you can encounter a lot of Santa Clauses in and around Copenhagen. Every year on July 24 – five months before Christmas – the World Santa Claus Congress is held in the Bakken amusement park in Klampenborg near Copenhagen. Often around a hundred Santa Clauses from all over the world participate. They talk about, among other things, better parking facilities and stronger ropes for their servants when working on the roofs of houses and buildings.