Last Friday I was lucky enough to have two friends from the motherland fly into Copenhagen to visit! After checking into their hotel we spent the day wandering around city center so they could get a sneak peak of all that Copenhagen has to offer. We ate outside at Hoppe’s on a little street off of Strøget, even though it was raining and about 50 degrees we decided to eat outside. (Granted, under umbrellas with blankets and heat lamps at our disposal) We started to wander about the city after lunch and noticed so many restaurants and pubs with blue banners and flags displayed in their windows. The festive signs were there to advertise J-Day, an age old Danish tradition dating back to 1990. Since Copenhagen is such and old city and even Tuborg has been around for ages, I thought it was a little funny to be celebrating a tradition that had only been happening for 18 years. I guess I shouldn’t complain because this holiday (18 years in the making) was awesome.
J-Day represents the unveiling of Tuborg’s Christmas beer (Juleøl) or Julebryg. On the first Friday of November each year all of the pubs, cafes, and restaurants begin to sell Tuborg’s Julebryg at 8:59 pm. If an establishment sells the brew a moment before 8:59 pm on this day they could be penalized with a fine. . . or worse. . . no more rights to sell the Christmas beer. (Those were the rumors, not sure if they are true – but nonetheless the establishments we went to that day/evening wouldn’t budge on the 8:59.) Adding to the celebration there are a set of Tuborg trucks with little elves and faries to distribute the beer and goodies all across the city! The trucks even look like they are covered in snow. (The fire department sprayed each one with foam.)
Everywhere we turned, Cyndy, Laurie, and I saw advertisements for J-Day. Our anticipation began to build. We could hardly begin to think of waiting until 8:59 for the introduction of this holiday beer into our lives!!! For Cyndy and Laurie, it was because they were jet lagged and wished to climb into bed way before 8:59 pm. For me it was just pure excitement. The three of us went to eat at Stella’s and then wandered down to Nyhavn’s Barock to try the beer. The countdown began and then at 8:59 on the dot a bartender with a blue and white santa hat served us each a Julebryg. It was delightful.
After sampling the Juleøl, Laurie decided to call it a night so Cyndy and I walked her back to the hotel. After that, Cyndy and I set out to see all of the excitement going on around the city over the Christmas beer. We walked back to Strøget where we ran into about a dozen Santa Clauses. Upon closer inspection these Santas were about 16. They began chatting with us and asking where we were going, what we were doing, etc. As we conversed with three of the pubescent Santas another one approached Cyndy and I, stroking his fake beard and said “vhat brings you to Danaaarrrkkk?” The image of teenage Santa stroking his beard and asking the Americans why we are in Denmark will be forever burned into my mind. . . so funny. Eventually four of the Santas piled into the back of a rickshaw and were peddled off to another bar.
Cyndy and I continued to wander, hoping to catch up with my friends. However, my phone had run out of money and I could not call anyone! So Cyndy and I wandered about, in hopes of getting a free Julebryg hat, but mostly in search of more beer. We came across a Tuborg truck and a woman dressed in a giant blue heart costume for the event. Unfortunately she didn’t have any hats for us. So we wandered to Charlie’s Bar. Charlie’s Bar is a great little English pub that serves an assortment of really really good beers. We found two spots at the bar and bellied up. First we each had a cask beer. That was good, but our second beers were amazing. Cyndy ordered a porter and I ordered a different kind of Christmas beer. Both were amazing! We sat and talked for ages, just enjoying the atmosphere and buzz of the people around us. Cyndy began to notice all of the cool coasters on the walls and bar, advertising the beers on tap. She politely asked the bartender for a few coasters. The bartender dissapeared to the back and returned with about 200 coasters. He handed them over to Cyndy and said Merry Christmas!
After leaving Charlie’s Bar we wandered toward Nyhavn. Still determined to get a hat, we went back to Barock where we had sampled our first Juleøl of the evening. The bar was closing but Cyndy pleaded with the staff for a hat. Finally, one nice girl handed me her blue Santa hat with the little ball on the end that lights up. I’ve never been so happy. I walk Cyndy back toward her hotel and notice that it is 3 a.m. I guess we got a little carried away with the holiday. . . but we were just doing our party to make this 18 year old tradition the best year ever!!!