Danish Weddings (Part Six)

 

So far, so good!  We got hitched, started the party off with lots of kissingby all and sundry, enjoyed lashings of good food and wine, have heard a lot of speeches, joined in the sing-a-longand cut the toes off the groom’s socks.

We’re nearing the end…  Anyone for a piece of kransekage (Danish wedding cake)?

Danish wedding cake - kransekage

Danish wedding cake - kransekage

Now, I may not be Danish by descent but I’m as mad about marcipan as the next Thor, Dennis or Henrik.  And kransekage is made out of marcipan, egg whites and icing sugar…  Baked in circles, towered high and adorned with Danish flags for weddings.  Sometimes it’s baked in little logs or tiny circles (with their bottoms dipped in chocolate) and served at the end of a fancy meal.  We also eat it at midnight on Nytårsaften (New Year’s Eve) when the bells ring in the New Year, washed down with a glass of champagne or two…

Kransekage on New Year's Eve - complete with fireworks!

Kransekage on New Year's Eve - complete with fireworks!

Yum-o!  So, with the last crumbs of the cake eaten and the guests enjoying a last boogie on the dancefloor, that just about wraps up our Danish wedding.  But wait!  Talking of wrapping – what about the bryllupsgaver – the wedding gifts?  Um, we’re going to need a truck to take them home!

Birthdays or weddings...bring your gift along on the day!

Birthdays or weddings...bring your gift along on the day!

What, you mean those crazy Danes actually brought their gifts along to the wedding party?  Yep.  In Denmark there is no wedding shower, or show of presents for the mums, aunties and grannies before the wedding.  Guests bring their gifts with them – as they also do at birthday parties, christenings, confirmations, graduations, etc, etc.  And place them on the specially designated gavebord – gift table.  (I’ve even been to weddings in Jutland where staff were on hand to unpack the gifts for the couple, in order to save time!)  On a side note, the word gift in Danish means ‘married’.  And it also means ‘poison’.  Co-incidence?  I think not! 😉

Now, you may think bringing along the gifts is a quaint tradition.  But not practical.  Especially when me and ‘Mr. Diane’ – both of us working in Luxembourg at the time, and just months before relocating to Copenhagen – got hitched in my hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Hubby’s Danish family flew over to Scotland for the wedding, brandishing gifts.  Most of them fragile!  Which we then had to transport from Edinburgh to Luxembourg.  And then back to Denmark…

From Denmark, to Scotland, to Luxembourg, and back to Denmark!

From Denmark, to Scotland, to Luxembourg, and back to Denmark!

But, hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?  Well, the wedding is over and I don’t know about you, but after six posts on Danish weddings, I’m ready for a drink.  Join me next time when I’ll be showing you how to make hyldeblomstchampagne – elderflower champagne!

Diane 🙂

 

 

 

 

 


Danish Weddings (Part Five)

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

Time to sing!

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.

Wedding traditions apply to Copper and Silver weddings too!

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!

To paint or not to paint? That is the question!

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 🙂


Danish Weddings (Part Four)

Okay, so we got hitched, started the party off with lots of kissingby 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 ourhardworking Toastmasterhas 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 🙂

 


Danish Weddings (Part Three)

 

In Danish Weddings (Part One) we got hitched.  In Part Two, we started the party, with lots of kissingby 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!”) . 

No Danish wedding without a Toastmaster!

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 🙂

 


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 🙂

 


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 🙂

 

 

 


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 :)