On Friday my DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14) went to a birthday party/sleepover at a classmate’s house. All the boys from his class – that would be twelve of them – were invited, as is the general rule here for birthdays. You invite the entire class (boys plus girls). Or all the boys. Or all the girls. No picking and choosing individuals, no leaving people out. Which is a great idea! But can be quite the logistical conundrum with around 25 kids in a class… So often two or three kids will hold a joint party – holding it in the biggest home – and the parents split the costs. Hats off to those brave Danish parents in DS14’s class who open their hearts and their home and invite all sixteen (count ’em!) girls for an overnighter! 😛
But I digress!
DS14 packed the gift for the Birthday Boy (a ‘goodie basket’ he made himself containing sweets, soda and crisps). Oh, yes, forgot to mention that there’s also a general rule of how much to spend on birthday presents – absolutely essential with those 25 birthdays a year. Or make that 50, or more, if you have two or three kids. Eek! We, the parents, decide the amount at the beginning of term and it’s currently DKR 30-50 per gift (UK £3.10-5.25, US $5-8.50).
But back to Friday and DS14 who was champing at the bit, ready with the gift, his sleeping bag/mattress and toothbrush (ha ha, as if he was actually intending to use it!). So off we tootled in the car.
We checked the address before we left (DS14 hadn’t been to this particular house before, as it’s a completely new class), got to the street and slowed down, peering out the car window for the right house number. But – hey ho – there was no need to worry… Because X marks the spot!
Yep, when you see the Danish flag stuck in the ground, you know a party is never far away 🙂
Just don’t confuse the large party flags (above) with those itty, bitty, cocktail-stick-size ones (below). Those teeny red and white pennants are – as I hope you will remember – a warning to pedestrians of upcoming dog poop! (Join the protest…stick a (Danish) flag in it!)
We interrupt – again, again, again – the series on Danish Wedding traditionsto bring you another public service announcement!
This coming Saturday – 15 June – is Valdemarsdag. And what is that, I hear you ask? Well, on 15 June 1219 Valdemar the Second of Denmark was fighting a crusade in Estonia. His army were losing the battle and prayed for God’s help. Lo and behold, a flag fell from the sky…a white cross on a read background. And they – selvfølgelig – went on to win the battle. And so goes the legend of Dannebrog– the Danish flag – the oldest national flag in the world.
Now, here comes the interesting part. Since 2000 Valdemarsdag has become the ‘biggest party for old people’ in Denmark- “Danmarks Største Ældrefest“! Thirty-two thousand of them! Yep, sprightly and not-so-sprightly oldies will be celebrating in old people’s homes and daycentres all over Denmark – with speeches by majors, live music and dancing. But the most important part is the food and drink…
To drink? AalborgSnaps – akvavit. 1,200 bottles of the stuff. Delivered to them by Post Danmark – so watch out for your red postie on Saturday – he’ll be carrying some Very Important Packages! 😉
And to eat? New Danish potatoes. In 2000 a lady ‘smuggled’ some new Danish potatoes in her handbag to her husband who was in an OAP home. A rare treat! Since then Danmarks Kartoffelråd(Denmark’s Potato Council) has sponsored new potatoes once a year for the OAPs. And so goes the legend of snaps and new potatoes on Valdemarsdag!
[This post is also published over at www.blogs.denmark.dk – the official website of
Denmark run by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
My friend and I were down at the beach for our daily skinny dip on Monday
morning and spied this, right in the middle of the pavement. A dog poo. With a
Danish flag in it…
Now, of course, those crazy (but lovable) Danes love to fly their flag round the clock. So you get used to seeing them all
over the place (shop windows, birthday parties, public buildings, on buses, etc,
etc). But I’d personally never seen one stuck in a dog poo. And it certainly
stuck out like a sore thumb in the slightly-snooty-oldy-worldly-chic district of
Klampenborg. Which, on a sidenote, is part of the ‘Whisky Belt’ area north of
Copenhagen. The area where all the rich Danes live. Those who can afford to drink whisky
So what was the (carefully placed) flag doing there?
Well, it turns out it’s a form of protest. (Search google pictures with the
words “hundelort” and “flag” and see for yourself.) To bring
attention to dog poos on pavements. To shame (dirty) dog owners. And warn
unsuspecting pedestrians. According to the website hundelort.com (literally ‘dog poo.com’), using
the flag is also practical. Once the poo has dried, simply remove it with the
Being a houseowner (with a very long fence…), I also get tired of removing
dog poo left outside our gate. Guess what I came home to on Monday morning? Yep. Poo! So I joined in the protest. And stuck a Danish flag in it.
I love those crazy Danes. I love the contrasts. Super liberal. Super traditional.
One of the top news stories yesterday was the proposed legislation to allow homosexual couples to adopt. The majority of Danes are behind the idea. The Danish Government is against the proposal but yesterday announced that – when it goes to the final vote – they will not force their own members to toe the party line. They will allow their members to vote according to their conscience. (The general expectation is that government members, like the opposition, will vote for the proposal.) Super liberal. Hello 2010! 🙂
But being liberal doesn’t give you carte blanche to start messing around with Danish traditions. Traditions are sacred here. I hope to goodness you’ve all made the Secret Snowdrop Letter that I posted yesterday? Or else you’re in big trouble! 😉
This morning I was out buying a few last minute things for DD7’s birthday party. The girls from her class (14 of them) are coming here on Friday afternoon. My first stop was the supermarket. Because no Danish birthday party is complete without…flags. Flags for the dining table, flags to stick in the food, confetti flags to scatter on the tablecloth, a paper tablecloth (with Danish flags on it), mini sticky flags to stick on the birthday cards and presents, plastic flags to put in the flowerpots outside your front door. Don’t forget to stick flags into your driveway, on your gate and along the front of your fence so that everyone knows you’re celebrating and can find the way to the party! You’re getting the picture now, aren’t you? If not, here’s one I took of the stand at the supermarket 😉
And please, please don’t forget to take a flag (or two) when you go into the birthday girl’s room and wake her by singing. It’s traditional…