If you happen to find yourself spending the winter holidays in Denmark, rejoice! Christmas is Denmark’s most celebrated holiday so you will be in for a treat. So, first thing’s first. You must learn how to say Merry Christmas in Danish, and even how to wish somebody a Happy New Year as well!
This way, you can easily impress friends (or your loved one) with your Danish language knowledge and even though you might not get the pronunciation right, you will still be appreciated for trying.
Aside from knowing these all-important greetings for the winter holidays, we will also learn other words essential for the winter season. So let’s get into the most important one of all!
How to say Merry Christmas in Danish?
This also means “Happy Holidays” in Danish. Phonetically, it is pronounced as /ɡlɛːdəliɡ juːl/ if you have already taken Danish speaking lessons.
But for the rest of us, let’s break it down. The first step is to acquaint your tongue with the sounds.
Try to say the first word – “Glae-the-lee”, enunciating it slowly. Now, with those sounds in mind, say the three syllables as one, sounding similar to “Glally” but with the “ae” sound in between.
The second word is pronounced simply as “yuul”. Say it altogether – “Glally-yuul!” Don’t be intimidated by the pronunciation – just do your best and locals will surely understand. And, most importantly, they will appreciate you trying.
If it’s too much for you, another way to say Merry Christmas in Danish is “God jul.”
And this would be it for the first “obstacle”. Now… off to the new year’s celebration, where we have a new greeting to learn!
How to say Happy New Year in Danish?
Hav et godt nytår!
The literal translation would be “Have a Happy New Year!” but this is the greeting that is used during this time of the year.
It sounds almost similar to “have a good new year” but it is said something like “have-e-got-nee-taa.”
Other winter holiday greetings & words in Danish
Let’s push the envelope further. If you are with some locals and you aren’t sure if they are celebrating Christmas per se but are having holidays this time of year, you can say “Nyd ferien” which appropriately means “happy holidays.”
And if you still want to impress you can always say “Hav en god vinterferie!” which means “Have a great winter vacation!” and “Vi ses næste år” which means “See you next year!”
All these celebrations mean that you will need to beef up on your Danish Christmas vocabulary. Here is a handy list of the basics.
Jul – Christmas
Juledag – Christmas day
Julemanden – Santa Claus
Juletræ – Christmas tree
Julekager – Christmas cake or cookies
JuleGave – Christmas Present
You might notice that the normal Danish words like dag and manden are affixed with Jul/Jule. Here are more Danish words of the season that you might enjoy practicing.
Sne – Snow
Snefnug – Snowflake
Snemand – Snowman
Klokke – Bell
Dekoration – Decoration
Ferie – Vacation
Helligdage – Holiday
And this would be all you need to know in order to make a solid impression to your Danish friends or loved ones during the winter holidays.
Related reading: Best traditional Danish foods you MUST try
Even though I shared some more politically correct and general greetings like “happy holidays” it’s worth mentioning that most people in Denmark do celebrate Christmas and even if they don’t, they won’t be offended if you wish them a Merry Christmas.
So don’t be afraid to throw this greeting left and right in the spirit of the holidays!
Since we’re at it, let’s learn how to Danes celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year the Danish Way.
If you’re in Denmark by the start of December, you’re sure to find the beginnings of the Christmas celebration. It kicks off on December 1st which is the start of Advent.
It is marked by a Julekalendar or a Gavekalendar where small gifts or treats are given and exchanged wither daily or on each of the four Sundays during the Advent.
Parents or grandparents usually present these delights to kids, but there’s no stopping the adults from sharing.
The Advent season is also marked by countdowns to the big day (Christmas, of course!) with candle calendars.
A candle is lit on each day of the 24-days. To emphasize how important this Danish tradition is, most TV stations have their own Julekalendar series.
It is a 24-episode Christmas special from day one to day 24 in December.
This brings us to the day (and night!) before Christmas! On the 24th day, Juleaften, families attend the Christmas Eve church service. The festivities begin after with a sumptuous dinner shared by the family.
Get ready for a gastronomic treat of roasted meat, whether pork, goose, or duck. This is served with the traditional sweet potato sides or boiled potato plus some cabbage and rich brown gravy.
After the main meal comes the risamalande, a traditional Danish dessert. Dig into the chilled rice pudding served with a warm cherry sauce reduction.
The goal is not only to eat the tasty treat but to find the whole almond hidden in your dessert. When you find the almond, you are entitled to receive a small token as a gift.
The celebrations go well into the night with the singing of traditional Danish Christmas carols around the tree.
Expect a tall glass of gløgg, which is a traditional mulled wine, spiced to perfection and served with almonds and raisins that you need to fish out with a spoon as you chug along.
You might also find homemade ebelskivers, powdered sugar, and jam to go along with it on the side.
The Danish also have Santa Claus or Julemanden so expect the little ones to hit the hay by midnight. Christmas morning means gathering around the Christmas tree to open gifts.
Expect to join a Julefrokost which a Christmas Lunch hosted by friends or local communities. If you’re lucky, you might get invited to a family lunch or familiejulefrokost.
Danish Christmas tables are laden with warm and cold meats, lots of seafood dishes, and plenty of cheeses, fruit, and risamalande.
Celebrating New Year in Denmark is also an exciting event. Yes, there are fireworks at the stroke of midnight but there’s much more.
Expect someone to ask you to jump from any raised platform – a chair, a step – even a table! Just don’t go to high.
This is for good luck in the new year. Expect the same sumptuous spread to be prepared for New Year’s meals but the Kransekage is the icing on the cake – literally.
This is the iconic Danish New Year’s Eve dessert which is a cake shaped like rings, stacked atop each other to form a cone. It is covered with rich white frosting and is served after midnight with champagne.
Then finally, we need to raise our glasses whenever we hear “Skål” and toast to good health and cheer during the holidays.