Welcome 2015 - godt nytår and happy new year!

A very happy new year 2015! I hope it will be as fun and full of new discoveries as 2014 was. I have some plans for the blog, and I’d be thrilled if you would follow along.

Here are a couple of impressions from my New Year’s party, which was held at our friends’ place smack in the center of Copenhagen, across from the Glyptotek. Now, every Danish New Year’s party starts at 6pm with watching the Queen’s annual speech. As last year, you could place bets on what she would mention (safe bets include Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and “søfolk”, whereas guesses like “snapchat” or “Bendtner” have great odds, but did not make you rich this time). Some people also have a drinking game centered around the number of times she makes a mistake while reading up from her papers. I am always greatly surprised by the table of “royal experts” that dissect every part of the speech afterwards. What does a “royal expert” even do all day? My guess is writing for ladies’ magazines, probably.

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For dinner, we had an amazing three course meal, which consisted of a starter with carrots and scallops, a main course of venison with root vegetables and potato nests, and cheesecake for dessert. The dinner was a bit potluck style, with different people bringing the three courses, but all of them were truly delicious.

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We were so lucky to have access to a rooftop terrace, so around 10pm, we headed up to watch Tivoli’s big firework show. For some reason, they don’t wait until midnight, so we got two times the fireworks, and I won’t complain about that! After dinner, it was already time for the show, and it was definitely good to get some fresh air. The party continued as parties do, and we made sure to climb on couches and chairs so we could “jump into the new year” at midnight, as Danish tradition requires. Afterwards, we headed out onto the street to watch the fireworks, and shoot off some of our own.

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Now, I admit that the pictures could be better, but I didn’t want to bring my camera, so I had to make do with the phone! Next year, I might try some long exposure shots of fireworks, but I don’t have a foot for my camera yet, so any attempt this year would have turned out blurry anyway.

We finally headed back inside and had a piece of delicious, homemade “kransekage”, which is a delicious pyramid of layered marzipan cake rings. I failed to get a shot of the entire cake (a masterpiece!) but I did manage to snatch the top layer, including the little silver umbrella.

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Now, I had a great time at the party, potentially a bit too great, because after boasting that I never get drunk (allegedly because I’m German - great logic), I spent the complete day yesterday a miserable mess on my couch. So I guess I had that coming. But I’m still determined that 2015 will be an amazing year, despite that somewhat failed first day. I don’t have a list of resolutions, because I tend to not keep them and then feel bad. So instead, I just plan to enjoy every second of this new year to the fullest, and make the most of it the best way I can.

How was your New Year’s Eve? And do you have any resolutions for 2015?


The crazy Danes and their flags

I always find it funny to observe the country I’m living in from an expat perspective. My experience with living in 4 different countries in the last 6 years or so is that not only do you learn a lot about the country and culture you’re living in, but you learn even more about yourself and your own culture. I’ve caught myself doing distinctly German things, like mixing fruit juice with sparkling water to make a delicious refreshing “Schorle” (pure juice is way too sweet, people!), that I never actually thought were something special. And of course, you notice odd or weird things in your host country that are quite different from what you’re used to.

One such thing I have noticed in Denmark is flags. It might just seem so strange to me because in Germany, we’ve had a difficult relationship with our flags and national pride in general after the Second World War - understandably so. The first time I remember waving a German flag was during the soccer world cup 2006 in Germany. We had those Aloha flower necklaces in black-red-and-gold, painted the flags on our cheeks, and waved flags when we won a game. But otherwise, you won’t find many people who actually display a flag, say in their garden, and if they do, you immediately think they might be weird and maybe a bit to the right end of the political spectrum. In Denmark, this is totally different. The flag is everywhere.

The Danish flag has a name: “dannebrog”, which means “Danish cloth”. Legend has it that the flag fell from the sky during a battle of the Danish army against Estonia, when they were praying to God to save them from defeat - which worked. I think it’s a quite pretty flag, and the red and white colors look great on the background of a clear blue sky.

Note that the queen’s royal yacht also carries the name “Dannebrog” (to be precise, the vessel is called “KDM Dannebrog”), but it was named after the flag. It usually anchors in Copenhagen harbour, but in the summer, the queen usually spends a couple of weeks in Greenland on the ship.


The Danish flag is a common sight in Copenhagen (and Denmark). It is found on public buildings, Amalienborg palace, of course (where flags on the four main buildings indicate which members of the royal family are home), and a lot of people even have a flagpole in their garden. This is a typical sight especially for summer houses.

But the Danes also use flags on special occasions. For example, when there’s a special holiday, all busses in Copenhagen will fly little flags. This is also the case when it’s the birthday of a member of the royal family, or another special event, like the royal wedding. If you see the flags on the busses but can’t remember what they are for, there’s a website called http://hvorforflagerbussen.dk/ (why do the busses fly flags) that will tell you exactly why - pretty neat! But I’ve also asked bus drivers before, who were happy to explain.

Another popular occasion to use flags for decoration is birthdays. Not only royal birthdays, but every single family birthday is celebrated by pulling out the flag decorations! Our neighbors even put two flags outside their door when there’s a birthday in their family! You can buy napkins, paper plates and cups, even small paper “strøflag” (sprinkle flags) to just throw on the table… the possibilities are endless! And of course, the miniature flagpole can’t be missing from any birthday table! Even high-end interior brands like Georg Jensen have those little flagpoles so you can celebrate in style.

And last but not least, flags of course also decorate the famous Danish “kransekage” (layered marzipan cake) traditionally served on New Year’s Eve and at weddings, but sometimes also as a birthday cake.



What do you think? What are your experiences with flags - the Danish and your own? And to the Danes: did I forget an important detail about the Dannebrog? An occasion where it is also used? Are there other traditions or trivia around the flag?

2014 - Happy New Year!

To everybody out there who might stumble upon this, I wish you a very happy new year, and I hope it will be your best one yet!

For myself, after 2013 has not been too kind to me overall (despite many great experiences), I have decided to do what I can to make 2014 better in every possible way.

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still. 

(Franklin D. Roosevelt)


New Year’s parties in Denmark aren’t so different from what I know from Germany, although it is common to meet as early as 5:30pm in order to watch the queen’s New Year’s speech at 6pm. It’s a common party game to guess which words she will use, and Danish betting sites even let you gamble on it! This year, to everybody’s great disappointment, she didn’t say “selfie” or “twerking“, and didn’t mention Allan Simonsen or Nelson Mandela.

After the speech, there’s a usually a quite elaborate dinner with three or more courses. Our party decided to order it from Cofoco, a group owning several very nice restaurants around Copenhagen. Our menu consisted of a lobster bisque with scallops, cottage cheese and salmon roe, beef tournedos with pommes Anna, onion puree and root parsley, and for dessert, variations of Belgian chocolate, including a dark chocolate cake, milk chocolate mousse and cocoa shortbread with blueberries. Yum!!

Around 23:40, the TV is turned on again to watch “Dinner for One“, which usually serves as the basis for a drinking game (take a drink whenever the butler drinks or trips over the tiger’s head). Right before midnight, champagne is poured and some people like to climb on their chairs or the couch to jump into the new year at midnight. After wishing “godt nytår” to each other, people go out into the streets to watch the fireworks and shoot off some of their own. And while in Germany the fireworks seem to last about 30 minutes, with some going off a bit later, there is just no stopping the Danes! As we were on our way home around 4pm, you could still hear some!

Afterwards, there is usually kransekage, a marcipan cake in layered rings that is very typical for New Year’s Eve, but is also traditionally served at weddings. The classic recipe can be found here, for example (in Danish).

I haven’t made one yet, but this is definitely on my bucket list. Maybe this year for NYE?