Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Danish Weddings (Part Five)

Okay, so where did we get to?  We got hitched, started the party off with lots of kissing by all and sundry, enjoyed lashings of good food and wine, and have heard a lot of speeches and joined in the sing-a-long...

[caption id="attachment_1792" align="aligncenter" width="429" caption="Time to sing!"][/caption]

What's that we can hear in the background?  Aaaah, it's the first notes of "Det er så yndigt at følges ad" - one of the psalms you probably sang in the church...
Det er så yndigt at følges ad
for to, som gerne vil sammen være;
da er med glæden man dobbelt glad
og halvt om sorgen så tung at bære;
ja, det er gammen
at rejse sammen,
når fjederhammen
er kærlighed.

"How sweet to travel the road ahead
for two desiring to be together,
for joy is double when we are wed,
and sorrow's stormwinds much lighter to weather.
How sweetly valid
to travel married, to travel married
when we are carried
on wings of love. On wings of love."

(You can find all 5 Danish verses here in the Danish Online Psalm Book and the English translation on the Grundtvig website.)  

Which means it's time for the Happy Couple to finally take the floor!

Here's how it works in Denmark.  First the Happy Couple start a slow waltz.  Everyone else stands around them in a circle, clapping in time with the music.  Then very slowly the guests start moving in, still clapping.  This goes on and on until it's basically a big rugby scrum and the couple are literally unable to move right or left, forwards or backwards.

[caption id="attachment_1791" align="aligncenter" width="429" caption="Wedding traditions apply to Copper and Silver weddings too!"][/caption]

Now, here's where the really crazy Danishness takes over...  Some of the male guests forcibly lift up the groom, who in turn puts on a show of a light struggle.  Normally two hold him under the arms while another two hold his feet and another two remove his shoes.  Enter onstage left: a person brandishing a pair of scissors!  Who proceeds to pull up the toes of the socks.  And cuts them off.  Chop, chop!  Hopefully said scissor-brandishing person is not too inebriated at this point ;)  Everybody holds their breath and hopes for a nice clean cut, with no damage to the groom... Scissor-brandishing person then holds up the sock toes and everyone cheers!

[caption id="attachment_1788" align="aligncenter" width="429" caption="To paint or not to paint? That is the question!"][/caption]

Now here comes Danish craziness number two.  The Bridesgroom knows selvfølgelig that there is a 99% chance that his sock toes are going to be cut off.  (On a side note, this is obviously this is not the day to wear your expensive Christian Dior ones.)  And he may want to turn the tables on the guests.  Often the sock-toe-cutting episode reveals...that the Bridesgroom has painted his toenails black.  Or each toenail has a different colour! ;)

And the point of this sock-toe-cutting tradition?  To stop the husband being unfaithful, apparently.  In the old days a Dane would only have one pair of boots and socks.  Unsuspecting maidens would be able to tell if he was married man, as soon as he took his boots off... Ha!  (Maybe that's also why Danish people take off their shoes at the door?)

By the way - it's the same procedure at Copper Weddings and Silver weddings, so beware!

Join me next time for the gifts!

Diane :)

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