The kids with caps…time to make some noise!

So the other day I told you about the Invasion of the kids with caps… Once they get the cap placed on their head, it doesn’t stop there. It’s time to celebrate. Big time.

It goes like this. Each High School class gets on to a truck. Which they have decorated with flowers, banners, Danish flags, etc, etc, etc. One of the most important things is the banner on the side of the truck. Which tells you which class and high school the students graduated from. And what the students will do if you wave to them or give them a toot from your car. (And, yes, everyone takes it in good spirit and toot, toot, toooooooots!) Along the lines of “1 Toot, we drink. 2 Toots, we finish the glass. 3 Toots, we’ll give you a flash.” And these Danes keep their promises…we saw several bare bottoms last year!

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And their parents/grannies/siblings/next-door-neighbours/the neighbour’s cat are on hand to give them a good send off.  Flags?  Check!  Beer?  Check!  Air horn?  Check! Loud speakers? Check! Ready for takeoff? Check! And where are they heading? On a loooooooong journey – they’ll stop at every student’s home for drinks and snacks. And – with about 25 students per class – that means that they’ll be driving around on the truck until the wee small hours of the next morning…

Alcohol, young kids and moving vehicles can be a dangerous cocktail. But the long arm of the Danish law are on hand to make sure that everything is all present and correct before take off.

At our local High Schools, there will be several trucks. Each playing different playlists. And that they play music for the entire duration of their trip around the area, usually 12 hours. Plus any passing cars or lorries will toot their horns and join in. Boom, boom. Toot, toot. Boom, boom! So it’s a very noisy afternoon and evening around these parts… Are you beginning to get the picture? Here’s a quick video I snapped of one of the trucks leaving the school (apologies for the shaky-hand) to give you a glimpse!

If you’re here in Denmark, you might want to sleep with your windows closed tonight (despite the tropical heatwave we are currently experiencing).  Because it will be the wee small hours of the next morning that these trucks finally grind to a halt, the tooting stops, the speakers are unplugged, everything is a bit blurry, it’s actually gone quite dark (despite the long Danish summer days), and we can all finally get to sleep!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane 🙂

 

By Diane • June 24, 2016
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Invasion of the kids with caps…

First there was just one or two. You didn’t notice them really. Just random dots on the landscape. Then they started popping up in the train and bus. They began to multiply. Huddled together in groups on street corners. In school halls, department stores and on the street. And – selvfølgelig – all over my Facebook feed.

What is this invasion? It’s the kids with caps!

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School’s out for summer and – for third year High School students – school is out for ever! 😄 Hence the graduation caps. Which, once it is placed on their head, doesn’t seem to leave said head for weeks and weeks… You must also remember that, here in Denmark, there is no such thing as school uniform. So lots of kids wearing the same item is a rather special sight. There was even one down at my bathing bridge this morning…

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And let’s not forget the families you will see walking around town, carrying baskets filled with flags and champagne. On their way to celebrate the big moment with their son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, sibling, nephew or niece…

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And notice how those crazy (but lovable) Danes wait patiently for the Green Man before they cross the road. Ten out of ten for good behaviour! 😄

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The shops are filled with graduation greeting cards and lots of ‘cap’ stickers, cocktail sticks and gift ribbon. Buy, buy, buy!

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But it’s not only students who are getting in on the act. Even the horse statue in the window of a local bar was wearing a graduation cap this morning!

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Oh well, you know what they say. If the cap fits, wear it..?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :mrgreen:

By Diane • June 22, 2016

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Witches and Midsummer on Thursday!

I spotted witches in the supermarket today…which is a sure sign that we are counting down to Sankt Hans Aften! 😉

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What is it? A huge event on the Danish social calendar – the night where you go out and celebrate St John’s Eve, probably better known as…midsummer! It falls on 23 June – which this year is Thursday.  The Danes gather around bonfires, often topped with effigies of witches – the idea being to send them off to North Germany. There are bonfires everywhere. All along the coast and beaches, in parks and forests and in town centres. Normally around 9.30pm or 10pm, when it’s still light.

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But, hey, let’s backtrack a little! The evening usually starts with people gathering – perhaps with a picnic – down at the beach or in the forest. The evening officially starts with a short Sankt Hans Tale or “Bål Tale” (bonfire speech) by a local dignitary or ‘personality’. And then the singing can start. Sometimes with live music from an orchestra or band. And, if you’re very lucky, a songsheet, so you can join in the singalong! 🙂

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You’ll be singing Midsommervisen. A.k.a. Vi elsker vort land. “We love our country.” Last year we also sang I Danmark er jeg født (“In Denmark I was born”) and Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) which you might recognise as the Danish national anthem.

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Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect, starting with the traditional version of Midsommervisen

…and here’s the modern version by Shubidua.

Whichever version you prefer, sing up, take care and have a great night. And watch out for those low flying witches overhead…

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Diane 🙂

By Diane • June 20, 2016
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What does that sign mean? Beats me! (Badum tish!)

[Today’s post is especially for my DBB (Dear Big Brother) in Scotland.]

I got into the Quiet Zone compartment of an S-train last week when this sign caught my eye…

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I had to take a closer look. No, my eyes didn’t deceive me. No drums allowed? Say what?!

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It turns out – selvfølgelig – that those crazy Danes (or should I say some rather crazy, clever people at DSB) came up with this great sign to make us look twice. And to reinforce the idea of respecting the silence. I’m sure you’ve been in that position yourself – sitting next to someone with [excuse my French] crappy earbuds when you can hear every. single. pesky. boom. boom. schack. noise that comes out of their ears? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! I’m all for loud music (I turn mine up to 11) but, please, please, people…get some decent headphones!!!

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So although you are very welcome to bring your bike on the train (as I regularly do), please leave your drumset and your crappy earbuds at home! 😉

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Have a terrific Tuesday!

Diane 🙂

By Diane • June 14, 2016

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When it’s hot in Denmark, reach for the ‘cold bowl’!

Three weeks ago we had hail stones and sleet, and hard frost during the night. Last weekend that all changed and yesterday afternoon (a bog standard Tuesday) our local beach was packed and the temperature was 20c/68f. Welcome to Denmark! (Though, of course, the water is still cold – 11c/52f – so me and my fellow Winter Bathing Belles were the only ones who were actually swimming in the sea…)

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The warm weather brings Danes on to the beach, bikepaths and sidewalk cafés. And gives them a craving for that first ‘taste’ of summer – koldskål. Which means that the sales of koldskål rocket. Which in turn means that [gasp] when I tried to buy some this morning at the supermarket, the fridge section was completely wiped out! So it’s either make your own (homemade koldskål recipe is here) or make do with the (vastly inferior) longlife stuff. Boo hoo! 😉

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So what on earth is it? The Danes have been eating koldskål for over a hundred years. Personally, I love the name. Kold = Cold. Skål = Bowl. Koldskål = Cold bowl! It’s traditionally made with buttermilk, raw eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon. Today you buy it readymade from the supermarket. And the Danes buy lots of it. Millions and millions of liters of it during the summer months. When the temperatures start to rise, so do the sales of koldskål… As I found out this morning at the supermarket, there is often a problem keeping up with demand.

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And what does it taste like? Hmm, even though I’m a ‘Dairy Queen’ (pass the cream, please, and yes, I’ll have a little bread with my butter), koldskål is definitely an acquired taste. A weird mixture of sweet and sour. But a very ‘fresh’ taste. It looks like thin yoghurt and you normally serve it in a bowl and throw a handful of little crispy biscuits called kammerjunkere (available from the supermarket or bakers) over the top. Or a few sliced strawberries.

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You can eat it for lunch or dinner. Or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. Or drop the kammerjunkere competely and just drink it straight out of a glass. Some people even eat it for breakfast. In our house we usually eat it after dinner, for dessert. My daughter aged 14 is addicted to it – so I had better find a new pusher soon!

Velbekomme! 😀

Diane 🙂

By Diane • May 11, 2016
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Star Wars and Danish Liberation Day

If you’re out and about in Denmark today, you’ll notice that the buses, official buildings and private individuals are flying the Danish flag today: Dannebrog (incidentally, the oldest national flag in the world).

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As regular readers will know, the thing I love about living among those crazy Danes is all the different traditions. Denmark is, on the face of it, a very modern country, but they have more holidays and traditions than you can stick a very big stick at. Hooray! Now, usually these special days are accompanied by a traditional Danish lunch (Easter, Whitsun, Christmas, etc), a Danish pastry (Fastelavnsboller for carnival) or bread roll (Bededag), etc.  Something edible. (More often than not washed down with a cold beer and a small snaps…)

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But Danmarks Befrielsesdag – Danish Liberation day – is marked in an entirely different way. The Germans surrendered on the Fourth of May 1945, and this message was brought to the Danes in a BBC radio broadcast at 8.36pm. (The surrender officially came into force the next morning, the Fifth of May 1945.) So many Danes will mark the occasion tonight by putting candles in their window. Just as they did on that night in 1945, when they were finally able to take down their blackout curtains (and burnt them in bonfires out on the streets) and placed candles there instead. A very beautiful and rather moving tradition that we also follow in our family.

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Happy Danish Liberation Day. May the force be with you!

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Diane 🙂

 

 

By Diane • May 4, 2016
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Attention! It’s Ascension!

Hot on the heels of Big Prayer Day, I bring you yet another public service announcement…

This Thursday, 5 May 2016, we have yet another religious holiday where Denmark will basically be closed for business. What’s the occasion this time? Kristi Himmelfart. Literally, Christ’s Sky Flight. Or Ascension, as is the more boring name in English. Oh, yes, I may have lived in Copenhagen for 18 years but the Danish word ‘fart‘ still brings out the child in me! Don’t you just love the elevator buttons in Danish stations..? 😉

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But, as usual, I digress! Attention! Where were we? Ascension. Oh yes, Thursday is closed and Danish schools make ‘a bridge’ for this particular holiday and so schools will also be closed on Friday 6 May. But most workplaces will be open for business as usual.

And what do the Danes do for Ascension? Just like our last holiday (Big Prayer Day), it’s high season for confirmations, a spot of gardening and – if the Danish weather gods are with us – enjoying some hot and sunny weather. So far we have had a very cold spring. As regular readers will know, I’m a winterbather, and our sea temperature has been stuck on 5c/41f for weeks and weeks… Cheers with a hot cuppa!

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Have a great Kristi Himmelfart!

Diane 🙂

 

By Diane • May 3, 2016
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Big Prayer Day? Time for big rolls!

With Easter behind us, we are counting down to the strangest day on the Danish religious calendar. This Friday, 22 April, is Stor Bededag. ’Big Prayer Day’! Those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year. So they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter and – voilà – Stor Bededag was born. It’s an official holiday so Denmark will be ‘closed’ on Friday, and the kids are off school. It’s time to get out in the garden, work on a DIY project, make a trip to Tivoli Gardens or just chill at home. And eat big rolls! (More on that later in this post.) But many Danes will make a day trip to Sweden or Germany, where it’s business as usual and cash registers will be working overtime.

Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray.  And, though I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings and weddings), a lot of Danes will be attending church this Friday.  Not for regular church services but for confirmation ceremonies. Which was actually the case for us last year, when it was our son’s turn to go through this very traditional Danish rite of passage…

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Want to know more about Danish confirmation and the traditional “Blue Monday” that follows it?  Then go read my post “When Blue Monday isn’t New Order!”

But the biggest tradition associated with Stor Bededag is eating hveder on Thursday night.  What are hveder?  Large, fluffy, pale, basic white bread rolls which you halve, toast and butter.  You’ll find them on sale at the bakers but be warned that – despite their modest ingredients – they don’t come cheap!

I gave up queuing for them at the bakers years ago and just buy the ready-made ones from the supermarket.  Best enjoyed warm with a nice cuppa!

After you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel).  You don’t live near Kastellet?  Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel…  (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen. Oh! And let’s not forget the third season of Broen/Bron/The Bridge 😉

And me? I’m praying for some warmer weather. It has been exceptionally chilly (not to mention wet and windy) so far this spring, so we’re still waiting for everything to start blooming.

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God Stor Bededag!

Diane :)

By Diane • April 19, 2016
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Getting ready for Easter

If you live here in Denmark you’ll have noticed that the Danes are getting ready for Easter. They celebrate in big style, and the country will basically shut down tonight, Wednesday.  Despite being very low-key about religion, most of Denmark will be closed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.  So although you may find the occasional food store open, schools are closed, as are council offices and most businesses. Plus libraries and post offices (don’t expect to receive mail or parcels).  Museums, your local swimming pool and fitness club may have special opening hours. Buses and trains may be running on ‘holiday’ schedules. Check before you head out!  😉

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Today – Wednesday – is the biggest shopping day of the year aside from the last shopping days before Christmas.  Pretty amazing when you consider that people are only buying food and drink – not a Christmas gift in sight!  If you forget to stock up, you’ll need to hop over the Sound to Sweden (they’re open for business as usual on Thursday). Or prepare to run the gauntlet on Saturday.

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And what do the Danes actually do on all these holy holidays? Well, they don’t really head for church – they save that for Christmas. No, Easter is the time to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends. To get out in the garden. And get the garden furniture out (if you didn’t do it when spring officially started in Denmark on 1 March). Do some DIY. Get busy down at the allotment or open up your summer house and hope for fantastic spring weather! Here’s my DS16, many years ago, at our Swedish cabin, about to dig into some Easter chocolate…

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Me?  I’ll be doing a mixture of the above: a bit of gardening, an Easter egg hunt and friends coming to stay. Lots of eating and drinking. So I’m already stocked up with the Danish Easter essentials. And what do the Danes eat? Lamb selvfølgelig. Lots of påskebryg (Easter beer) and snaps. And the ubiquitous array of foods that you will see at Danish lunches (see my Christmas Advent Calendar post). Rejer (prawns), sild (herring), varm leverpostej (hot liverpâté), various meats like flæskesteg (roast pork) and rullepølse (rolled pork). One of my own faves is tarteletter (tart cases filled with a mixture of chicken and asparagus).  Look here for more about them.

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Get them while they’re hot!

There’ll be lots of cheese. Dainty biscuits and chocolates/chocolate eggs. Or you might want to serve this yummy Danish mazarinkage (marcipan cake).  Takes only 5 minutes to put together if you have a kitchen mixer! My recipe is here.

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And now? Let us pray. And hope the Danish weather gods are with us!

Skål! God Påske!

And if you are bored over Easter, then why not enjoy a good book. My cozy crime novel, set in Denmark, is finally here! “Death Comes to Strandvig” is now available on amazon – for less than the price of a cup of coffee! Links here to the international store and the UK store. Set in a small Danish town, there is plenty of hygge, a lot of winterbathing, traditional Danish food, iconic Scandinavian design, terrible jokes, a little romance and – selvfølgelig – a dead body! 😉

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I hope you enjoy it!

Diane  🙂

By Diane • March 23, 2016
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Easter is coming…send a secret letter!

Fastelavn has been and gone. The snow has been and gone (with the occasional flurry to keep us guessing). So what’s next on the Danish calendar? Easter beer and eggs!

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The kids will be on Easter break from next Friday – woo hoo – no more pesky packed lunches until they restart on Tuesday 29 March 🙂

But you can’t have Easter in Denmark without – selvfølgelig –  a traditional Danish Easter craft. Today we’re making a gækkebrev – a secret snowdrop letter!  For which we’ll need a vintergæk (snowdrop). My garden is currently full of them. Splendid!

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If you don’t have a snowdrop, you may need to improvise. Draw one?  Now, did you know that gækkebreve are a purely Danish tradition?  I thought it was a Scandinavian thing.  But no.  It’s a crazy Dane thing.  And right now, as I type, little kids all over Denmark are sitting at home (or nursery, school, the museum or local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots.  All in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg!  More on the logistics of that later in the post…  First up, let’s get making one! :)

You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper
  • glue or a gluestick
  • a pair of scissors
  • a snowdrop

Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again.  Draw a rough shape and cut out.  If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple!  The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting.  Hans Christian Andersen (you know, the one who wrote “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Little Match Girl”, “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “Thumbelina” etc, etc, etc…) was also an expert at papercutting.  I’ve only lived here for 18 years, so I’m still learning…

Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.

Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick.  And it’s fine if it isn’tperfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)

Then you’re ready to write a little poem on it.

Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.
Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.
Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,
han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!

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But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:

Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,
Omen true of hope divine,
From the heart of winter bring
Thy delightful hope of spring.
Guess my name I humbly beg.
Your reward: An Easter-Egg.
Let these puzzling dots proclaim
Every letter in my name

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Now listen carefully.  [I shall say this only once…]  At the bottom of the gækkebrev,DON’T sign your name.  You draw a large dot for every letter of your name.  So my name, Diane, would be  . . . . .    If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg.  But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg.  So disguise your handwriting and be creative!  I usually put in three dots for M.U.M.!  ;)

The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden – just draw one if need be – add it to the letter and send to a friend or loved one.   And keep your fingers crossed that theydon’t guess who it’s from…

God Påske!  Happy ……!

Diane :)

By Diane • March 10, 2016
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Diane's Daily Denmark

Diane

Never too serious but always informative, Diane is a Scot who moved to Denmark in 1998. Author of "Death comes to Strandvig", a Scandinavian cozy crime novel. Mentor at FlyladyPremium ...