New Year’s Eve the Danish way

We had planned a quiet evening at home in our pyjamas on the sofa. However, our neighbours across the street organized a dinner party together with our neighbours next door and invited us to join them. We gladly accepted their invitation! After all, dressing up for a dinner party is much more fun than spending the evening in pyjamas.

Like in many other Danish homes, our get-together started at 6 PM sharp, with Dronningens nytårstale, the Queen’s New Year’s speech. Everyone gathered around the TV screen. Somehow Margrethe looked somewhat insecure and confused while holding her speech this year. The situation became quite uncomfortable – for us listeners, but most likely even more so for her – when she for a moment seemed to totally have lost track of what she wanted to say. Apparently she had skipped a page. It took her eighteen long seconds to find her way back and when she finally started talking again, the whole country must have breathed a sigh of relief (I know I did!).

But despite this moment of confusion it was a good speech, in which she urged people to help others in need: Denmark, like other countries, has a responsibility to help refugees. “Vi må forstå og besinde os på, at ingen er en ø. Vi er alle en del af et hele“, she said, thereby emphasizing the importance of working together, both as individuals and nations. No one is an island, and we are all part of a greater whole. It became quite obvious from her speech that Margrethe does not agree with the current government’s approach and for that I highly appreciate her!

The start of a new year always seems to be a good moment to make resolutions, even though, in principle, one could do this any time of year. In her speech, Margrethe revealed that her husband, Prins Henrik, in Denmark usually referred to as Prinsgemalen, has decided that the time has come for him to retire. In Denmark a quite unusual thing to do for a Prince, but Prins Henrik has always been a controversial man. Clearly, he feels that he deserves some quiet time the final years of his life and, at age 81, I can’t blame him for that!

As always, the Queen concluded her speech with the words “Gud bevare Danmark“. For us a sign to raise our glasses, say “skål” and take our seat at the dinner table according to bordplanen. Our fællesmiddag (we each prepared a course) was delicious, our conversation entertaining and the fireworks lighted by our neighbour across the street were indeed impressive.

wk1PhotoNicole

I learned that it is common to eat again at midnight, no matter how copious the dinner was. Our midnatsmad consisted of homemade Dutch oliebollen. We don’t mind adapting to Danish life, my husband and me, but some habits should simply not be broken. Eating oliebollen on the last day of the year is one of them. Our Danish neighbours seemed to enjoy them as well. Luckily, not enough to eat them all, because as every Dutchman knows, there’s nothing like eating oliebollen for breakfast on New Year’s Day!

Nicole

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