Danes don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (for obvious reasons). However, the Black Friday experience seems to be catching on here, sorta. The online scene consists of many Danish companies having online sales starting at different times on Thursday and Friday. And what were these great offers? Answer: 20% off.* You know you’ve lived in Denmark too long when 20% off actually sounds like a pretty good deal. Yes, I bought a vase. To be fair, it is a really awesome vase. But it still sounds lame. I’ll make it less lame by giving said vase it’s own blog post. It’s very special. Ok, enough about the vase. I’m obsessed (with the vase).
In real life, for at least the past two years, and probably longer, Santa brings Christmas to Aarhus on the last Friday of November. In Denmark, Santa is called Julemanden. Julemanden arrives in the harbor from Greenland (not literally, at least I hope not) and then gets in his white Cadillac to lead a parade around Aarhus. Santa then lights the 23 meter tall Christmas tree in front of Aarhus City Hall and everyone sings a few carols.
Since Santa always brings Christmas to Aarhus on Black Friday, many shops in the city, including the mall, are open for “night shopping.” This means that they open on Black Friday at a regular time (9 or 10am), but stay open until 11 or midnight, which is special because normally retail stores here close around 6 or 7pm. In typical Danish fashion, the weather was windy and cold with intermittent spits of rain. Perfect for a night out. After watching Santa light the tree, I decided to go on a cultural field trip and see what Denmark’s Black Friday had to offer. I hit the mall first because it was closest and I’m lazy. There was a huge crowd and the predominant “deal” was 20% off any item at all stores.
A few of the stores had DJs and from 11pm-midnight there was free champagne (which I didn’t stick around for, dumb I know). The other main attraction at the mall was a Justin Bieber-esque Dane playing the piano and singing top 40 tunes. People seemed entertained. I then decided that drinking a large latte at 8pm was good idea. (Rookie mistake).
Next, I decided to take a walk down the pedestrian street . Although there were a lot of people out, it was a rather relaxed atmosphere. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry and lots of families were strolling down the pedestrian street eating candied almonds and sharing hot drinks they had bought at the various Christmas themed specialty stands that pop up this time of year. So overall, my Black Friday experience in Denmark was more relaxing than the US version of the tradition. For a little taste of the festivities, here is a short and lovely video featuring the aforementioned Aarhus Christmas activities: Click here!
Thanks to the latte, I was up that night until probably midnight. So really, I should have stuck around for the free champagne at the mall. Next year?
*Disclaimer: Obviously I’m not aware of every single sale occurring on the interwebs, there may have been deeper discounts available. If you are looking for an amazing sale in Denmark, they all happen after Christmas.