J-dag: A Danish tradition that’s all about Christmas beer (Yule beer)

In Attractions by Einherjar

J-dag is a Danish tradition that is celebrated on the first Friday in November at 8:59 p.m. when the breweries release their yearly Christmas beers (Danish: Julebryg). Many people all over Denmark gather in the center of the cities, at restaurants, bars, or at their friends to enjoy or probably more correctly “get hammered” while partying most of the night away.

“A Christmas beer is not one type of beer, but typically has a higher alcohol percentage, and is sweeter and darker than an ordinary lager.”

What is the history of J-dag?

J-dag means Yule brew day (Danish: Julebryg dag), and it has been celebrated every year since 1990, except in 2020, due to the pandemic. It was the brewery Tuborg that came up with the idea as part of a big marketing stunt to promote their Christmas beer by handing out free beer in the streets of most major cities across Denmark.

But because many of the university students were absent the following day. The day was eventually moved in 1999 from Wednesday to Friday, so the students and other Christmas brew enthusiasts could sleep it off on Saturday, which was probably a good decision.

Although J-dag was invented by Tuborg, today, many large and small breweries all over Denmark have jumped on the bandwagon and also release their Christmas beer at the beginning of November.

The first Tuborg Christmas beer commercial

Christmas beer has become such a widespread tradition in Denmark, that we do not only have the typical Coca-Cola Christmas commercial, but we also have commercials with Christmas beer. The first commercial aired in 1984 across the cinemas in Denmark, and afterward, it was added to the commercial breaks on the tv channels.

The Tuborg Christmas beer is also called “The Snow beer” (Danish: Snebajeren)

This image is from the blue and white advertisement for Tuborg Christmas brew. The text reads: Merry Christmas and a Happy Tub’year (Danish: Glædelig jul og godt Tub’år)

Christmas beer is for adults and children

The tradition is so strong, that some breweries even have made root beers for children called Hvidtøl. These are mostly called “Nisseøl” by the Danes. While you might be declined to think that “Hey, these are probably alcohol-free, since they are for children”, but, you would be wrong. Most of these Christmas root beers for children have between 1.7 to 1.9 percent alcohol in them. However, most children don’t like them, or just share half of a bottle with their brother or sister.

But in recent years, alcohol-free beers have started to become more popular, and it is probably just a matter of time before the root beers, and perhaps some of the Christmas beers for adults will become alcohol-free.

The Scandinavians have loved beer for thousands of years, and this will probably never change. Their Viking ancestors were also big fans of beer, and during their winter celebrations such as Yule, beer was also on the menu. In fact, there was a law that you had to drink Yule beer, or else you would be punished. But you can read more about that in my article about the Origin of Yule, or watch the video on Youtube.