The Steamier Side of the Julefrokost Party

I’ve only been to one corporate julefrokost – you can read about it in my last post – and that one was lively and convivial and fun. But I have hear rumors of a different side to the julefrokost, a darker side. Some people have told me, half joking, half serious, that most of Denmark’s divorces – and there’s many of them in a country with an almost 50% divorce rate – happen around and after Christmas time because of what goes down at the corporate Christmas parties.

The article “Sex, Schnaps and Shakin’ Stevens: the Danish office party” by Helen Russell from the Telegraph – first brought to my attention by my friends over at Heather + Thomas – tells it all and is definitely worth a quick read. A snippet:

Four hours in and I’m ready for a lie down, but the party’s just getting started. Wine flows and my fellow diners’ inner Vikings seem to emerge. Faces are flushed and lips, blackened with red wine, move animatedly. Hotel room cards seem to be being passed around and hands rest on places they shouldn’t – the smalls of backs and bottoms of colleagues they’ll presumably have to face on Monday morning in the cold semi-light of day.


8 thoughts on “The Steamier Side of the Julefrokost Party

  1. It’s ironic that you post this, as my husband and I were just talking about that steamier side as I was asking him a couple questions to clarify my response to your last post. His experience (especially when he was a VP in the oil industry years ago) included a little of this, and also the fact that upper management was expected to be a little more sober … and, come Monday morning, *anything* that was said by a drunk employee was to be forgotten.

    We’re human, though. How in the world could you forget some of what goes on? Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with this culture, but I’d have a very hard time forgetting the insubordination aspect! (Let’s not even go into that steamier aspect you mention.)


    • That’s interesting, Cindi. I hadn’t thought about that tension until you brought it up. I think it might be a very American thing to worry about 🙂 I was just responding to a comment by Astrid, and she reminded me that in Denmark everyone is considered very equal. Even if you’re my manager, that doesn’t mean you’re better than me. So maybe that’s why it’s a little easier for everyone to party together and leave what was said at the party at the party?


  2. I just stumbled across your blog when I was researching, and had to leave a comment.
    As a dane, the ‘darker’ side to julefrokoster is not something I have experienced at all. Yes, it’s something people talk about, but it’s more the stuff of urban legends. I’ve never actually seen any of my collegues doing anything they shouldn’t have. I have read somewhere that the large percentage of divorces during January and August is because people either can’t stand to be together non stop for two or three weeks during vacation time, or because they use the holidays to talk things through. It wouldn’t surprise me if the statistics were similar in other countries…
    As for the ‘insubordination’ that Cindi talks about: this is the one time a year employees are allowed to let loose. If management chooses to participate, it’s their own fault if they hear something they don’t want to hear. The julefrokost is supposed to be a good time for the employees. It’s concidered good manners for management to leave early because it’s not really a party if the employees have to watch what they’re saying all the time. If they choose to stay, it’s their own problem how to deal with what they witness. The employees are under no obligations to behave in a servile manner towards management during a julefrokost.


    • Thanks for your comment, Astrid. My post about the “steamier” side was, of course, a little exaggerated for comedic effect and also because there are some aspects of the corporate julefrokost that are a little unusual if your’e from the US. But I really think it’s a great tradition. Like you said, it really promotes bonding with your colleagues and allows the employees a chance to relax on the company’s dime.

      I hadn’t thought about that tension between upper management and the rank and file employees before Cindi posted about it. I know in Denmark everyone is meant to be equal, so I do like how everyone parties together at these things. At mine, it didn’t matter where you worked or what you did, you found out where you were sitting through a game the same way as everyone else. So I can understand how in Denmark it doesn’t matter if management is there or not, you party on anyway.


  3. I have so much enjoyed reading you blog! Always refreshing to see your own culture rtc from another perspective 🙂 I hope you just have taken some time of, and will continue writing? If not. THANKS for what you did give 🙂


    • Hi Christa. Thanks for reading my blog! I’m glad you have enjoyed it so far. I just took a couple weeks off for the holidays. It wasn’t really on purpose. I had planned to keep writing, but I just kind of didn’t. Kind of a blogging faux pas! I hope all my readers forgive me 🙂 Hopefully I can keep coming up with interesting posts!


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