Huh..? You are joking?!? No, I’m actually not joking. I’m dead serious. This video shows you the beautiful graveyard with suntanning people.
Close to my house in the centre of Copenhagen is a beautiful, old graveyard called “Assistens”. It is the last resting place of a long line of famous Danish people such as H.C.Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard.
But in the summer time it is also the daily resting place of many “Copenhageners”. And it is totally legal. We are not illegal invaders.
Suntanning is indeed permitted in the graveyard…even in a bikini. But of course you are expected to act in a proper manner and treat the place with respect.
And really, why should we not utilize this public space for “living” activities? In Europe death is considered such a final and tragic event. In many other parts of the world, death is a celebration. By sharing the space with the dead people I feel like some of the morbidity disappears.
It really is a beautiful oasis in a busy city and it has been used as a park for decades in all seasons. It is wonderful for walks in the winter as well when the trees and bushes are covered in snow…a real fairytale landscape. I love this place.
In some countries and in some religions birthdays are not celebrated. But in Denmark, which is traditionally a protestant, Christian country, we consider birthdays as something very important and a great opportunity to celebrate.
The video below is from my sister Pia’s birthday (on July 10, 2008) and gives you an idea about the way we celebrate birthdays in my family.
In my family (and in many Danish families I know) birthdays are celebrated as the most important day of the year.
Before the birthday itself the birthday "child" makes a wish list with all the things he or she would like to have as a birthday present and gives the list to the members of the family (and perhaps friends depending on relationship).
On the birthday itself the family does everything according to the wish of the birthday child (whether he or she is a child or a grown-up).
The family makes a delicious breakfast before he or she wakes up and then wakes her/him up with the Danish birthday song (see the video). Then she/he opens the presents and eats breakfast.
Lunch is also as special as possible and oftentimes we have friends over in the afternoon for "cake-man", sweets (and fun games if you are a child).
Dinner is also prepared according to the wish of the birthday child and will often be several courses the favourite dishes of the person who has his/her birthday.
When I was a child (and laterïŠ) I used to look forward to the day long time in advance and it was surely my favourite celebration. It is a celebration of love that your family makes for you and you for them.
This video shows the wedding of my wonderful dad and his girlfriend Sanne on May 31st 2008. In the video you get a good idea about what a traditional Danish wedding entails in terms of customs and traditions.
With love, Tina
NB. To read more about Danish wedding traditions, please read here
May 31st 2008 was a big day in my family. It was the wedding day of my wonderful father to his girlfriend Sanne. In the article below you get an idea about what a traditional Danish wedding entails in terms of customs and traditions.
Traditionally the man proposes to his girlfriend, but they buy the wedding rings together (and usually share the cost). The preparation and cost of the wedding is also shared between the bride and groom.
As for the wedding dress, it is bought by the bride and is not to be seen by the man before the wedding. The bride needs to wear four things: something new, old, borrowed and blue. And if the bride is young the guests of the wedding may insist on seeing that she is wearing all four things (typical pervert Danish humour :-)).
It is the job of the groom to purchase the bridal bouquet.
The night before the wedding the bride and groom are supposed to sleep separately. In Denmark most couples live together for several years before they get married and therefore the separation for one night is to make a distinction between the wedding day and other days.
On the day of the wedding itself the groom arrives at the church 30 min before the wedding and the bride arrives 5 min before and is led by her father. However, many couples in Denmark prefer a secular wedding at the city hall with a party afterwards.
Once the church wedding ceremony (or city hall) is finished the couple leaves the church together and is greeted outside by friends throwing rice (not cooked) at them. It is a way of symbolically wishing the new couple fertility.
Danish weddings are typically kept quite small in terms of the number of guests. We usually only invite close family and friends so on average we may invite somewhere from 25 – 80 guests (usually not more).
After the church the couple often has their pictures taken, or some kind of reception, or something like at my father’s wedding where we went on a boat trip on Silkeborg lake. After this event there is a beautiful dinner with lots of speeches, songs, fun games, and dancing. There is a special order in which to conduct the speeches: 1. Bride’s father, 2. Groom, 3. Bride, 4. Family (hereunder the groom’s parents), 5. Friends.
The following two customs are always played out during the wedding: 1. while the bride is absent (e.g. using the ladies room during dinner) all the ladies (guests) run over to kiss the groom and vice versa – while the groom is absent all the men run to kiss the bride. 2. All the guests knock on the plates or glasses (many times during the wedding) until the bride and groom climb onto their chairs and kiss each other in front of everyone.
Last but not least, the wedding waltz is to be danced before twelve a clock midnight and after that the male guests lifts up the groom and cuts the tip of his socks on both feet. It apparently symbolises that now he should no longer walk in the footsteps of other women (not that we would ever tolerate that he did :-)).
The night ends with lots of dancing, drinking and Danish hygge.
Denmark has recently emerged as the world’s happiest country, beating out Bhutan, the long-time favorite of anthropologists everywhere.
The birthplace of LEGO"”a contraction of leg godt or "play well""”offers even the first time visitor an incredible sense of hygglige: amiable cosiness.
"I remember you mentioned in your book," my Danish editor said over lunch in Copenhagen two weeks ago, "that you had a big head." I do have a huge head. I took a bite of delicious Esrom cheese and nodded for her to continue, keeping one eye on the wienerbrÃ¸d.
"But you don’t have a huge head. You just have a healthy, normal-sized Danish head." I smiled"”home at last.
Even if you don’t have a Danish bloodline like I do, there are some good reasons to visit Copenhagen, the capital of the world’s happiest country
Here are just 6 of them:
1. More than 80% of the Danes speak English.
English movies are almost never dubbed in Denmark. Combined with excellent free education, this results in a high % of Danes speaking more pleasant English than the average Brit or American.
"OK, I’ll see you for dinner at 6pm then," I said to one friend named Christopher over the phone. "You shall. Have a nice evening and see you soon," he responded. Did I just get out-Englished by a non-native speaker? I felt like a TOEFL student.
You’re more likely to have communication problems in the bayou of Louisiana or in a pub in Manchester than you are in Copenhagen.
2. Christiania"”the anarchist state of Scandinavia.
In 1971, a 101-acre site formerly used for army barracks was effectively seized and converted by hippies into "The Free State of Christiania." They hotwired themselves into the power grid, created their own form of goverment, as well as a rich community of shops, schools, recycling programs, and most things you would associate with a normal township"”but they claimed sovereignty and paid no taxes. It became a haven for artists, alternatives, and soft drug dealing, among other things, and the Danish government"”though allowing Christiania to exist as a proclaimed "social experiment""”has been trying to shut them down for more than 35 years. In 1991, the appointed powers within the anarchist state agreed to pay rent and cover the costs of water and electricity.
I spent a late night wandering through the beautifully painted historical buildings of Christiania, ultimately ending up with two friends at The Woodstock Cafe, where we drank organic beer and met interesting vagabonds from all over the world. Dogs played outside among the metal barrels, which glowed like jack-o-lanterns from the flames inside them, producing surreal shadows on the graffiti all around us. It was incredible.
Most Danes agree that Christiania’s days are numbered. It’s an anachronism that has somehow survived every attempt to demolish it, but it’s nine lives will soon be up. Get there before it’s gone.
3. Danes pair food and wine better than most Italians or French.
That’s a strong statement, but I was amazed at how precisely, and insistently, most decent restaurants paired courses with wine. Restaurant Saa Hvidt, featuring young culinary superstar Frederik Hvidt, offers a prix fixe 5-course meal with five separate wines for each tapas-like dish. Incredible and unlike anything I’ve had in more than 30 other countries. Danish cheese is also the best I’ve ever had.
For a taste of real home-cooked Danish food, eat with a local family for about 400 DKK through the Dine with the Danes program.
4. The people are beautiful but seem unaware of the fact.
As Bill Bryson once observed: you could cast a Pepsi commercial here in 15 seconds.
Right up there with Argentina, Denmark has a jaw-dropping number of gorgeous people. The truly beautiful part, and unusual differentiator, is that appear blissfully unaware of the fact. There is little LA-style pretension unless you go to a social climber magnet like Club NASA, which helps to pull the mirror gazers off the streets. Go in the spring or summer and there is no need for catwalks"”the sidewalks at Nyhavn are good enough. For those feeling the club or lounge itch, Vega and JazzHouse are hard to beat.
5. Danish design is incredible to experience, even for non-designers.
"It doesn’t cost money to light a room correctly, but it does require culture." This quote from Poul Henningsen, encapsulates the beauty of Danish design minimalism. Much like in Japanese design, form follows function, and half of the time I found myself in a great mood in Copenhagen, I realized it was due to the planned passage of sunlight in Danish architecture, as well as their understanding of interior lighting intensity and placement.
Bigger is not better, as is so often the case in the US, and the tallest building in Copenhagen is a modest 358 feet.
From the sleek silverware of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the most famous chairs in the design world, the Danes have a functional and pleasant feast for the eyes almost anywhere you go, whether the renowned Louisiana museum or your hotel lobby.
6. Bite-sized goodness: public transportation is as good as Japan, and you can cover the entire city in a weekend.
I looked at where I wanted to go. It was on the other side of the map from my hotel. "How long does it take to get there by taxi? 20 minutes?" The receptionist looked at me and laughed: "10 minutes by bicycle." Copenhagen is probably the most hassle-free capital I’ve ever visited.
Rent a bike for 100 DKK and you can cover 1/2 of the "Barcelona of the North," as design god Sir Terence Conran calls it, in an afternoon. 1-3-hour bike tours from Central Station are a perfect first-day orientation. The numerous S-line and Metro stations, in addition to HUR buses, will get you where you want to go if self-propelled locomotion isn’t your gig, but the average Dane bicycles 375 miles per year. Get off your ass and join them for the real Danish experience.
Looking for other happy travels?
Here are the combined top 10 according to separate studies from the University of Leicester in the UK and Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the latter of which had 953 indicators (!):
* 1 Denmark * 2 Switzerland * 3 Austria * 4 Iceland * 5 Bahamas * 6 Finland * 7 Sweden * 8 Bhutan * 9 Brunei * 10 Canada
Today was an amazing day in Copenhagen. The sky and sea were blue, the people smiling and the weather hot…32 degrees! I spent the day on the beach with my wonderful sister Gitte and thousands of other Danish people who had gotten the same idea.
This video was filmed on Amager strand (Amager beach) in Copenhagen and it shows you Sweden in the background and lovely Danish beach life.