Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Public Service Announcement - Karameldag! Flying Toffees!

We interrupt the series on Danish Weddings to bring you an important Public Service Announcement:

This coming Friday - 31 May 2013 - is Karameldag ("Toffee Day")!  It's the last day of school for 9th and 10th graders.  And they'll be celebrating.  Selvfølgelig.  Most of them will be attired in fancy dress (and will perhaps return home, soaked to the skin and covered in shaving foam).  Some will make breakfast for their teachers.  There will be singing and dancing.  And all of them will be roaming around the school, throwing huge amounts of toffees - to be caught by the kids in the lower grades.

So remember to give your little 'uns a plastic bag on Friday.  They're going to need it to hold their booty.  Or, at least, to hold the empty toffee wrappers so they can keep score ("Hey, I caught 72 toffees this year!").



God Karameldag!

Diane :)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Danish Weddings (Part Four)

Okay, so we got hitched, started the party off with lots of kissing by all and sundry and have heard a lot of speeches.

What's next?  Time to dance?  Nope!  The serving staff are handing round papers and our hardworking Toastmaster has announced the first sing-a-long! 



Now this is the part of the wedding celebrations when the grannies, aunties, sisters, mums and mother-in-laws are totally in their element.  For weeks (sometimes months...) they've been hard at work writing funny, sometimes embarrassing but always sentimental rhyming ditties to be sung by the whole wedding company.  And every copy of each song (80 copies for, say, 80 guests) is carefully printed on coloured paper, rolled up and tied with ribbon, dotted with heart-shaped stickers or  folded into hearts or origami animals.  Hey, these crazy Danes are crazy creative!

If you're not feeling quite so creative or are having writer's block, there are selvfølgelig plenty of online companies who'll write a song for you.  But the best songs are, of course, the really personal ones which mention pets, anecdotes of what the bride did when she was 3 years old or the groom's stag night.  Anything goes, as long as it rhymes! ;)



Naturally we need a familiar melody.  Which is usually "Fra England til Skotland", "Det hammer, hammer fedt", "Yesterday", "I en kælder sort som kul" or "Der bor en bager".  Don't worry, even if you aren't Danish, once you've been to a couple of weddings, you'll be singing along like a native.  Just remember to keep your glass filled, because there will be plenty of "Skål!"s between verses...



Join me next time when the happy couple finally takes the floor!

Diane :)

 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Danish Weddings (Part Three)

 


In Danish Weddings (Part One) we got hitched.  In Part Two, we started the party, with lots of kissing by all and sundry!

So, now, we're busily tucking into our food.  Which, if it's like 95% of the numerous Danish weddings I've been to, will be: a seafood or fish starter, beef or veal for the main course and chocolate cake/icecream for dessert.  In Jutland (the Danish mainland) the tradition is suppe, steg og is.  Soup, roast and icecream.  And - being Jutland - the serving staff will always come round with a second serving of the main course.  Hooray for that! :)

But don't get too engrossed in the starter because - ching, ching, cough, cough - the Toastmaster has just announced the first in a very long line of speeches.  Oh, you thought there would only be three speeches: the Father of the Bride, the Best Man and the Groom?  Well, think again!  In Denmark, everyone can join in.  It could be a friend of the Bride, a former boss, Kirsten Giftekniv (the "Matchmaker") who brought the Happy Couple together, an University chum, the Groom's brother, the Best Man, colleagues...













Or all of the above - and more.  As happened at our wedding! ;)

And, ladies, remember those hankies!  Because you're about to discover that Danish men are actually incredibly romantic.  When the Groom gives his speech, he'll start off - selvfølgelig - with a few funny anecdotes.  But towards the end the whole atmosphere of the room will change and you'll be able to hear a pin drop.  He'll turn to his Bride and solemnly declare "Jeg elsker dig!" ("I love you!")  Sniff, sniff, not a dry eye in the house!

And, hey, let's give some credit to the unsung hero of the wedding party - the Toastmaster.  He really has his work cut out for him - working out an order of service, communicating with the kitchen staff ("Hold the roast pork, Moster Gerda is up next!") and the keyboard player/DJ ("Stop the music, Bedstefar Ole wants to bring a toast!") . 

[caption id="attachment_1771" align="aligncenter" width="429" caption="No Danish wedding without a Toastmaster!"][/caption]

Phew - what a line up!  And - wait a minute - our Toastmaster also needs to fit in all those songs, specially written by the guests for the occasion...

More about those next time!

Diane :)

 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Danish Weddings (Part Two)

So, in Danish Weddings (Part One), I told you about the Danish marriage ceremony.


Now that we've said "Ja!" (Yes!) to each other and are officially married, what next?  Well, let's get the party started, selvfølgelig! :)

Danish weddings involve lots and lots (and lots) of kissing.  You'll need to keep your wits about you!

Keep your ears open:

Ching, ching!  Ching, ching, ching!   Someone starts tapping a knife on their wine glass or plate.  Then everyone joins in.  Ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, ching, chiiiiiiiiiing!  And you don't stop making the noise until the Happy Couple get out of their seats, stand up on their chairs, carefully reach out towards one another (careful, mind you don't fall!) and kiss.   Mwa!  And skål! (Cheers!)


Repeat at random.  Over.  And over.


Keep your eyes open:

You also need to keep your eye firmly fixed on the Bride and Groom.  If, at any point, the Groom leaves the room to go wee-wee, then it's open season on the Bride!


The men dash over to her, and queue up to give her a kiss.


 

Given that we are in liberal Denmark and there is full equality, the opposite applies selvfølgelig if the Bride leaves the room.  Then all the ladies have a chance to go smooch the Groom.  You might want to make sure that the Bride and Groom are drinking plenty of water, so they'll need to leave the room often.  Otherwise you'll just have to lure them out under false pretences.  Perfectly acceptable!


Join me next time for the next round of Danish Wedding traditions!

Diane :)

 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Danish Weddings (Part One)

Yay, it's wedding season!  :)  As my regular readers will know, I'm constantly amused and amazed by the quirky traditions of those crazy Danes.  From hitting barrels with baseball bats to sending secret snowdrop letters, tradesmen removing their shoes and marcipan pigs...  And Danish weddings are no exception - hooray!

[caption id="attachment_1751" align="aligncenter" width="613" caption="Danish wedding anno 1975"]Danish wedding anno 1975[/caption]

Now, unfortunately, statistics say that over 40% of Danish marriages are doomed to end in divorce.  But, hey, many Danes go on to remarry - so let's look on the bright side...even more weddings! ;)

So where does it all start?  Well, you can either get married in the Danish church (which also, by the way, performs same-sex marriages - halleluja! - an idea supported by a large majority of Danes) or at a civil cermony (usually at your local town hall, but can also be your back garden or at a hotel).  And you can - selvfølgelig - also choose to go the whole hog and do both!



The ceremony itself is short and sweet.  Forget all those toe-curling Hollywood film scenes where the bride and groom bumble through their marriage vows...  There are no lines to learn!  Those practical Danes get straight to the point.  The priest or mayor will give a little speech then ask you two questions: 

  • Do you take Morten/Christina to be your husband/wife?

  • Will you love and cherish him/her until death do you part?


.

And if you reply "Ja" (Yes) to both questions, you're married - simple as that!

Oh, and don't be surprised if the flower girls or ushers turn out to be the bride and groom's own kids.  It's very common for the Danes to get married after they have kids, not before.  Sometimes they even kill two birds with one stone and have a joint wedding/baby christening...

Join me next time when we'll be getting ready to celebrate!

Diane :)

 

 

 

Back to the books!

If you haven’t already heard or seen the jubilation of parents partying in the street, the LockOut of Danish teachers is finally over and my kids cycled off to school this morning at 7.30am - hooray! They were, of course, a tad sad to be going back after an unexpected hiatus of 5 weeks – not to mention very grumpy when they were dragged out of bed selvfølgelig – but resigned and looking forward to seeing their friends and getting back in to their groove.

On a side note: I had to laugh on Saturday night when we were watching Danish kids’ tv. At the top of the screen was a countdown: 1 day, 12 hours, 38 minutes and 35 seconds until…school starts! Yep, gotta love those crazy Danes and their warped sense of humour… ;)


Anyway, now that the kids are back to their textbooks, how about some other books? (Y’all know how much I love Danish libraries - I promise not to mention them again!) Free books. From our local alfresco book trading posts!



Yep, Gentofte council has set up specially designed book trading posts - book ‘sculptures’ – around the commune. You can come and take books around the clock. 24 hours a day. But, um, if I want to borrow a book in the wee, small hours, won’t it be too dark, I hear you say. Why, no, because inside there are LED lamps which are powered by solar panels on the top! Okay, I’m interested, so where do I get the key, I hear you ask. No need – they aren’t locked – just help yourself! :)



You’re free to keep the books once you’ve finished reading them. Or return them - along with any others you have lying around at home, collecting dust and clogging your feng shui. But won’t it just turn into a giant junk heap of books, I hear your ask? No, because a team of volunteers ensures that there is a good varied selection and rotates the stock.



And what can you expect to find? An eclectic mix. The occasional DVD, foreign languages books, plenty of crime and Agatha Christies, kids books and non-fiction. From Dan Brown to Tolkien and everything in between.



It’s a ‘green’, self-sustaining project - which is absolutely dependent on trust. (Indeed, part of the thinking behind the project is that it will actually help to promote trust in public spaces.) Six-months down the road, it looks like a success. No vandalism and lots of happy customers!



Happy Monday – whether you have your nose in an ebook or a free book!

Diane :)

Danish Weddings (Part One)

Yay, it’s wedding season! :) As my regular readers will know, I’m constantly amused and amazed by the quirky traditions of those crazy Danes. From hitting barrels with baseball bats to sending secret snowdrop letters, tradesmen removing their shoes and marcipan pigs… And Danish weddings are no exception – hooray!

Danish wedding anno 1975
Danish wedding anno 1975

Now, unfortunately, statistics say that over 40% of Danish marriages are doomed to end in divorce. But, hey, many Danes go on to remarry – so let’s look on the bright side…even more weddings! ;)

So where does it all start? Well, you can either get married in the Danish church (which also, by the way, performs same-sex marriages – halleluja! – an idea supported by a large majority of Danes) or at a civil cermony (usually at your local town hall, but can also be your back garden or at a hotel). And you can - selvfølgelig – also choose to go the whole hog and do both!



The ceremony itself is short and sweet. Forget all those toe-curling Hollywood film scenes where the bride and groom bumble through their marriage vows… There are no lines to learn! Those practical Danes get straight to the point. The priest or mayor will give a little speech then ask you two questions:

  • Do you take Morten/Christina to be your husband/wife?
  • Will you love and cherish him/her until death do you part?

And if you reply “Ja” (Yes) to both questions, you’re married – simple as that!

Oh, and don’t be surprised if the flower girls or ushers turn out to be the bride and groom’s own kids. It’s very common for the Danes to get married after they have kids, not before. Sometimes they even kill two birds with one stone and have a joint wedding/baby christening…

Join me next time when we’ll be getting ready to celebrate!

Diane :)