Danish ‘Julefrokost’ Through the Eyes of an International
The Christmas season is approaching and many companies are about to celebrate their annual Christmas party, also known as ‘Julefrokost’. After three years of working as a Systems Engineer at Systematic in Aarhus, Alpár Imets has learnt first-hand that this festive ritual is a crucial – and fun – part of Danish workplace culture and how socialising with co-workers can be beneficial for the working environment.
When spending your first Christmas in Denmark, you’ll soon learn that Julefrokost is an essential Danish Christmas tradition. I was introduced to this annual feast shortly after moving from Romania to Denmark, during one of my Danish classes at language school. Aside from learning about prepositions and pronouns, our teachers taught us about Danish culture and cultural practices and around Christmas they held a joint Julefrokost for all the course participants.
But what is this Julefrokost really about? And what does it mean within Danish workplace culture to gather employees together once a year for this special occasion? In my experience, Julefrokost is a crucial part of celebrating Christmas in Denmark. Danes celebrate Julefrokost with family and friends, but also with their co-workers. Many companies rent a venue in the city but at Systematic, Julefrokost always takes place in our office. I personally think it’s great to use our office for a more social and informal purpose. We usually eat a traditional Danish Christmas meal with roast pork, potatoes, red cabbage and gravy. For dessert, we have the traditional risalamande (from the French riz à l’amande), which everyone in the office loves. The first time I attended, I found it a little challenging because I’m a vegetarian and the meal contains a lot of meat. But, the following year, they also served a vegetarian option which I enjoyed.
During the evening, we sit around tables chat and then when the band starts playing people get up and start dancing. Our band consists entirely of employees from Systematic, and it is really amusing seeing my colleagues – who are normally coding – suddenly playing instruments.
Social events are a cornerstone of Danish workplace culture
Before I attended my first workplace Julefrokost, I had heard a few rumours and crazy stories about people getting really drunk during the party and not remembering anything the next day. In reality, however, I don’t think it is like that. Of course, we have a few drinks, but in my experience, the night is really more about having a good time and getting to know your colleagues better. In general, social events amongst employees are a big priority and this is something that I value about Danish workplace culture. At Systematic, we have both a barbeque in the summer and the long-awaited Julefrokost in December that almost everyone from the office attends.
Keep an open mind
If you’re an International working in Denmark and are about to attend your very first Danish Julefrokost, here’s my advice for you: be open-minded! The Julefrokost is a cornerstone of Danish workplace culture and I highly recommend that you attend. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know your co-workers outside of a work context and in the following weeks, you are sure to have a lot of good memories to share with your colleagues during lunch breaks or at the coffee machine.
Article from The International, December Issue 2018
Written by Katrine Skibsted Jakobsen, International Community