Happy New Year from Scandinavia


New Year’s Eve in Scandinavia offers locals as well as visitors lots of parties, fireworks and celebrations. This is the festive time of year for everyone to enjoy, regardless of faith, nationality or background.

New Year’s Eve is also one of the largest global celebrations because it marks the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.

Danish new year, Wilhelm Larsen
Danish new year, Wilhelm Larsen

Happy New Year in Denmark

Few days are so joyfully celebrated by Danish people than New Year’s Eve, with lots of excitement and jollity.

Parties usually start around 6pm, because this is when their appreciated creative and artistic Queen Margrethe’s New Year’s speech starts. They will listen to the Queen’s New Year’s Eve speech (no matter where they celebrate). In her speech, she always mentions the people of Greenland and the Faroe Islands and the many Danes at sea and always concludes her speech with a hearty “God save Denmark” (Gud bevare Danmark).

NYE Copenhagen
NYE Copenhagen

Special dishes are served, and fine and varied quality of champagne flow all night. Also, as soon as the clock rings twelve at midnight, marzipan ring cake is served to all those present. The traditional KRANSEKAKE is decorated with Danish flags. The tradition of serving this cake at New Year is about 100 years old, but the cake was invented in the end of the 1700 Century.

Apart from the modern day parties organized all around the country, Danish people do ensure to concord their celebrations with their traditions and customs, as they are seen as occasions to promote Danish cultures, traditions and rich heritage, as well as pass them on to future generations.

The list of traditional dishes served in these parties includes boiled cod, stewed kale, and pork. Serving them to guests during New Year’s Eve is considered to confer good luck, prosperity and happiness in the coming year.
Bursting firecrackers is also a very intact part of New Year’s celebration in Denmark. At the mark of twelve, preplanned shows of fireworks are carried out, which illuminates the entire sky and skylines of the towns. The noisy fireworks are most awaited and enjoyed by young children. It is done with an old belief in concern, that loud noises of fireworks sway away all the evil spirits and negative energies.

Another traditional event the majority of Denmark’s population is waiting for is the live broadcast of the Town Hall clock in Copenhagen turning twelve on midnight.

Many people attend private parties or spoil themselves in restaurants where multi-course menus are on offer. If you’re going out, restaurants might close around eleven to enable the staff the opportunity to celebrate as well! Cafes, bars and clubs, however, usually don’t follow this practice. It’s best to ask the maitre d’ about their opening hours when making your reservation.

If you want to join in on the fireworks at midnight, you should stick to large open squares and keep the fire hazard in mind.

Happy New Year in Norway

New Year’s Eve in Norway is a big celebration. Many city people will travel to their holiday homes, often located in the mountains, so Oslo and other cities can be a bit quieter than normal.

Apart from being rich in economy and growth, Norway is considered equally rich in its heritage and tradition. New Year celebrations as made all around the Norway are an intact part of those traditions, followed by the inhabitants of Norway since centuries.

NYE Oslo
NYE Oslo

On New Year’s Eve (Nyttårsaften), Norwegians usually meet for dinner at someone’s home or invite guests over to theirs. Norwegians love to bring in the New Year in high spirits of joy and happiness. Many hotels and restaurants are also hosting New Year’s Eve parties. The most popular places in many of Norway’s ski resorts are fully booked for New Year’s Eve within the early autumn.

311215-godt-nytt-aar-norwayThe New Year celebrations as made in Norway are high on content and style, and are quite distinctive from the regular celebrations which usually go around the world.

It is common to see Norwegians dressed their best to bring in the New Year. There isn’t a traditional dinner on this evening. Some eat a version of Norwegian Christmas dinner while others have different meals. Wine is considered to be compulsory part with which celebrations truly boast off.

After dinner, some parents will let their younger children play with sparklers or set off small fireworks before they head off to bed. Some lucky older children get to stay up until midnight to watch the fireworks.

Norway is famous for the fireworks display, which starts promptly at 12, with a countdown. The toasting of the New Year starts the moment the clock turns 12 and wishing the family, friends and neighbors a happy new year (and that’s when the mobile network usually collapses).

At midnight everyone starts to wish their friends, family, loved ones, and neighbors Godt Nytt År, takk for det gamle (Happy New Year, thank you for the past year). There will be hugs, kisses, cheers, and calling over to other groups to wish them well in the streets.

Without drawing any distinction, everyone irrespective of their age and gender is encouraged to be a part of these celebrations, and inhabitants as well as tourists party all day and all night till the early hours of the first day of the New Year.

There is also a Halloween-like tradition in Norway, referred to as  ‘Nyttarsbukk’, when small children visit all the houses in the neighborhood, while singing special New Year songs. In turn, people give them candies.

With regards to private fireworks, rules and regulations tightened in 2008 prohibiting rocket type fireworks with stabilizers and fireworks looking like toys. From the 27th to the 31st of December, smaller fireworks will be available for sale to consumers. You will see these fireworks sold in stores such as Coop and Europris, among others. There will usually be big banners to let customers know that there are fireworks being sold in that store.

New Year’s Day is generally a quiet day spent resting from the festivities of the night before. Some Norwegians also make it a point to go to church on this day. The King will also give a speech on this day, which can be seen on TV.

Happy New Year in Sweden

New Year in Sweden is considered to be the perfect time for everyone to have some enthralling time, and thus everyone ensure to celebrate it with splendor and joy. They dress up in newly bought clothes and pretend the icy wind howling outside the door is not there.

Swedes like to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends, and in spite of freezing temperatures, they often toast the New Year outdoors, the sky lit up by fireworks.

During dinner, they discuss both the past year and the year to come. They promise to become a much better person in future, and when the clocks strike midnight they make their New Year’s resolutions. Many promise to stop smoking, or to lose weight, or to start exercising at a gym or make more money. As a rule, these promises are kept − for a few weeks, at least.

NYE Stockholm
NYE Stockholm

During the time of the New Year, most of the Sweden, in particularly the northern part, goes through unconscionable cold climatic conditions. In such weather, people do tend to come out covered up all over from head to toe, and never miss a chance to let a few extra pegs of champagne down their throats. They love their New Year celebrations to be intensely prolific, modern, and flamboyant.

Many actually prefer the cold night air. Those who are not lucky enough to live in a town flat with a view, tend to seek out public places at midnight from where they can fire off rockets and sneak a look at other people’s firework displays.

It is easy to find many who are planning to be a part of New Year Eve parties, which reflect less of the local culture and are more of an evidence of the adopted continental lifestyle. New Year celebrations are also more about spending time with friends, rather than members of the family, which otherwise is outright reserved during the time of preceding Christmas time. New Year celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve and go on the whole night to conclude in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

With the arrival of the moment of New Year, people cheer out loud with whatever they have. Their natural senses, car horns, whistling talent, church bells, or drum beats, all live their vibrant moment as soon as clock turns twelve at midnight.

It is quite an endearing sight: people standing outside, shivering, teeth clattering, up to their knees in heavy snow – just to wish each other a happy new year, accompanied by the bang and sparkle of fireworks. It is also symptomatic of modern Sweden. In many respects, Swedes have begun to absorb the outdoorsy continental lifestyle, but somewhere along the way a collision always occurs, in this case, with the climate.

Swedes don’t mind Christmas celebrations being an old-fashioned family affair, but New Year is nowadays supposed to be lavish, ostentatious, international and modern. In city market halls and delicatessens, last-minute customers fight over the last lobsters and the last box of oysters.

Each year ends with a live broadcast from the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm, where the bells chime and a New Year’s verse (interestingly enough a translation of a poem by the British poet Lord Alfred Tennyson) is solemnly declaimed by a famous Swede to the nation. There’s something nice and secure about rounding off the year in front of the TV in your living room.

Happy New Year from Scandinavia, written by Tor Kjolberg

You might also enjoy the following article from last New Year’s Eve:

How to Celebrate New Year’s Eve Twice in  Scandinavia