Tag Archives: wedding

The Danish tradition of Polterabend

Michael and I got married a few weeks ago (*yeay* to us). This has meant trying to navigate through a lot of Danish traditions, deciding how to mesh up both of our cultures, traditions and expectations. One of the traditions I have been (happily) initiated into is the ‘Polterabend’, also known as a hen’s night or bachelorette party in other parts of the world. And, surprisingly, it was my (super lovely) colleagues who planned it for me!

The first characteristic of a Danish polterabend appears to be that it should be a complete surprise to the person getting married. This was very easy in my case – I didn’t suspect a single thing (not least because I had no idea this could even happen). There was collusion in the plan by all at work, with my manager calling me in for a (bogus) meeting, and coordination with Michael so I don’t have the car on that day.

Another characteristic is a lot of planned events. We first had cake and coffee. Then some painting. Then a dance class. Then a visit to a shooting range for some target practice. Then on to health and beauty centre, to have fish munch around our feet. And then dinner. But that was not the end! After dinner we had a quiz prepared by one of my colleagues on Danish design. We finally went home when we were kicked out of the restaurant!


In Malta, ‘hen’s nights’ are typically friendly events, if often a tad embarrassing. In Denmark, what you should be aware of, however, seems to be ‘danger’! I am lucky that my colleagues are mature, responsible people. But they did mention a couple of times that we were going to the dentist. Oh! And they brought a swim suit for me, and took me to the Viking bathing club…in March! Luckily for me, no swimming was involved. It was only a ‘threat’. We just got lovely sparkling wine just outside on the bridge.

It was a great day, especially coming from my colleagues. For the non-Danes out there, it is good to mention that people here tend to keep their work and home life very separate, and they find it baffling to be called friends when they are ‘just’ colleagues. So it was extra special that they went through all this effort just for me.


All that was left was then actual wedding. Unfortunately for you guys it won’t be a ‘typical Danish wedding’, but a mish-mash of our two cultures. However, you can read about traditional Danish weddings in a previous blog post.

Danish Wedding Traditions

So far we have written about general Danish celebration traditions. Although most of those are also true for a Danish wedding (particularly the speeches!), there are a couple of other traditions that are worth knowing if this will be your first experience.

The first time I attended a Danish wedding I was surprised as to how much of a spotlight the wedding couple was under and that as a guest I felt more of an observer than a participant (rightly so, you may say – this is their day). What about you? Have you been to one? And if so, what surprised you? These are a few other things that surprised me.

Let’s Stamp and Clink

You may be expecting an uninterrupted dinner with pleasant conversation with the people sitting next to you. However, if the speeches haven’t already put paid to this expectation, there is one more thing you have to keep an eye (or ear) out for. During the meal, at random intervals, the guests will either stamp their feet or clink their cutlery against glass or plates. If the stamping happens, the couple have to go under the table and kiss. If the latter, they have to stand on chairs and kiss.

You may kiss the bride (or groom)

If the groom leaves the room you will see all the guys get up as well. They will quickly queue up to go and kiss the bride, and vice-versa; when the bride leaves the room all the girls will rush to give the groom a cheeky kiss. So don’t worry – you will be kept active as well!

First Dance

You may be looking forward to cake following dinner (and all the activity around it). However, If the cutting of the cake is a major event in your culture’s weddings, you will probably be disappointed. Instead, a major occurrence is the first dance. This has to happen before midnight (as otherwise your wedding day is over), but also close to midnight, as this is when the couple changes status from unmarried to married.

As a guest you do not only watch. You also have to get involved! As the couple dances, the guests surround them, clapping in unison and getting closer and closer to the couple until the couple can no longer move…and they kiss amid (thunderous) applause.

The Cutting of the Cake Socks

Back to the cake! The cake will be cut, but even more importantly is that the socks are cut! After the first dance, the guys often pick up the groom, take off his shoes, and cut his socks. Apparently it is for the guy to see how good his new wife is at sewing. Let’s just hope I am never put to this test!

Cutting the grooms socks + why we do that I dont know