One of the statements I often hear from the international community is where are the Danes during winter? Of course, the short answer is indoors, but we are not alone. Danes enjoy socialising indoors and participate in various activities and events during the winter.
Photographs: Enjoy Nordjylland / Unsplash
Text: Lasse Frimand Jensen
Whether getting together involves playing indoor sports, going to the cinema, or meeting friends at home for "hygge" (social cosiness), we Danes always find ways to socialise, even in the coldest weather.
The value of associations in Denmark and volunteering
In the winter, many indoor activities in Denmark are centred around associations. When Danes are not spending time at home with their families or friends, they often participate in association activities, including sports and volunteering. In Aalborg, there are sports arenas for indoor football, handball, badminton, gymnastics, indoor swimming pools and many other sports, which are used frequently by different associations. Gigantium, as an example, is a great sports arena and cultural institution, which associations and organisations frequently use for sports, concerts, fairs, or events.
But associations are not only about sport and music but also social work, politics and much more. It is just as much about the feeling of community and being a part of civil society. In fact, every third adult Dane has volunteered in the last three months to work for a sports association, social work, cultural association, or other areas of the diverse Danish association life. In that way, association life and volunteering are a pillar of Danish culture, not only by providing a social network and creates social cohesion and opportunities for fun and exciting activities when it's cold outside.
International organisations and civil society
It is not only the Danes who participate in associations. International organisations are also doing a wide variety of activities. For example, in Aalborg, we have a house for international organisations in International House North Denmark, where we host around 28 organisations. The organisations in the house organise and run social, career, and cultural events, and much more. So if you're reading this article and live in North Denmark, please get in touch with us to find your organisation. In addition, we host a big welcome event called Internationals' fair North Denmark every year, where some of the organisations are present, and you can meet them there.
Facing the cold and celebrating Danish Christmas Hygge
The winter period can be long and dark in Denmark, and the joy of spring and summer can seem very far away. But luckily, December means Christmas, and Christmas means hygge. Danish Christmas hygge is practised at home with the family and is a huge part of Danish institutions and associations. In Budolfi church in the centre of Aalborg, you can experience and enjoy Christmas hygge at the Nine Lessons and Carols event for free for all international citizens. Music, songs, lights, and readings related to Christmas will be combined into one magical evening. Afterwards, there will be free snacks, soft drinks and "æbleskiver" at the student house, next to Budolfi church.
Of course, not all activities and socialising are indoors in Denmark during Christmas and the winter period. However, the winter weather does provide opportunities for outdoor activities. Almost every city or area has its own ice-skating field, and Aalborg is no exception. Ice skating in the centre of Aalborg is very popular when the square "CW Obels plads" is made into an ice-skating field. At Christmas time, the city sets up a Christmas market in the centre of Aalborg, where you can enjoy Christmas in all its form and shapes. From Christmas trees and huts to trying Danish treats like burned almonds, waffles, æbleskiver and gløgg. So there are a lot of opportunities to meet new friends and find out that even though it is cold outside, our hearts are warm in Denmark.