We had some interesting people-watching while we were in Copenhagen. Some sights we were prepared for, some of them found us pulling out our phones to Google what was going on!
For one thing, alcohol is legal on the streets and even on public transportation. So our very first day in Copenhagen, we spotted a rowdy bachelorette party in progress on the metro. The girls all had on crows and sashes. Some carried balloons – others carried bottles and cans of beer. No big deal. I even ended up taking a beer on a bus so we didn’t miss our ride!
May 12th was Store Bededag, or General Prayer Day, in Denmark. From what we read, it’s basically a collection of a bunch of minor Christian holidays all smooshed into one day, which started back in the late 1600s.
Way back when, all work and business was forbidden from 6 p.m. the evening before the holiday, probably to make sure that nobody would show up late (or drunk) to church service the following morning. To get around this, bakers would make extra wheat buns and sell them in the evening so that they could be reheated and eaten the next day.
We saw lots of people rushing around with their bags of bread, buns, and rolls. In fact, while we were out for a walk, one bakery kept bringing out racks of rolls and selling them to passers-by. We stopped in another bakery for pastries for the following day’s breakfast and the man gave #ToddlerGoodwin his own roll for Prayer Day, which he thoroughly enjoyed. (To be honest, he eats just about everything.)
Later that night, we were lying in bed around 10 p.m. or so, and heard some loud singing outside our window. It was still General Prayer Day, so we wondered if some people had gone a little overboard celebrating the holiday or something. Shortly after that, there was a blast of loud music – “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns n Roses. We thought it came from a car passing by. Then we heard some loud club/dance music. Tommy peeked through the blinds out the window and said…
“Uh… They’re rollerskating.”
I hopped to my feet and we drew up the blinds to see what was going on. Hundreds and hundreds of people were rollerblading and skating down our street. There was a police officer at the intersection directing traffic. People skated by wearing reflective gear. Someone pushed a baby carriage decorated with holiday lights – the carriage held a boombox with more loud music. It was one of the craziest things we’d ever seen. Apparently, on Friday nights throughout the summer, people meet up for the Friday Night Skate and skate a big circular route around town!
We heard more loud music out on our street a few days later, except this time it was Dr. Dre. I couldn’t help looking out the window to see who was blasting the music. I was really surprised to see this giant vehicle rolling slowly down the street. But when I saw the kids, the white caps, and the signs, I at least kind of had an idea of what it was.
Graduation! Graduates party and celebrate by riding around in decorated open-air trucks, playing loud music, stopping off at people’s houses, drinking, and wearing their white caps. I tried to take a picture, but unfortunately, you can’t really read the sign on the side of the truck. It said something like “Made possible by vodka, Red Bull, Google, and Wikipedia.”
Another big celebration that took place while we were in Denmark was May 17th – Norway’s National Day. In the morning, I took the metro to do some shopping and was astounded to see that the train was full of young people in full Norwegian dress. Some of the guys were dressed up in suits, many of the girls were wearing their traditional dresses or bunad. It seemed like at every stop, another crowd got on with lots of cheers, singing, and champagne! (Or beer, or booze.)
While on the train, I texted our friend/#ToddlerGoodwin’s godmother back home who is from Norway, and told her what was going on. She told me that it’s a huge celebration in Norway, and that Norwegians party pretty hard even when they’re away from home. She excitedly told me to say to someone “Gratulerer med dagen!” – which is sort of a congratulations/happy birthday… but I was too nervous to attempt it in the middle of everyone’s festivities.
When we went to Tivoli Gardens later that day, there were lots of people continuing to celebrate – all dressed up, waving the Norwegian flag. (#ToddlerGoodwin was done posing for pictures and just wanted to go on some rides.)
It was really cool to see the pride the Scandinavians have in their countries, whether it’s celebrating the warmer weather, high school graduation, or the holidays.
But the one thing that really shocked us, despite having read about it beforehand, was that some parents in Denmark might leave their babies outside while they go shopping. Tommy heard about it on a podcast and I read about it later, but yeah… if parents need to go into a shop, the pram stays outside. If they’re eating brunch in a restaurant, the pram stays outside. The parents will usually pull the pram up to a window and then sit at the table right by the window. More than once, we saw moms eating brunch while their baby slept contentedly in the stroller.
While it’s perfectly acceptable in Denmark, we never left #ToddlerGoodwin outside. He’s way past the sleeping in the stroller stage so he probably would have freaked out at the thought that we were abandoning him; it also would have been a pain to take him out/put him in every time we wanted to go into a place. There were a couple times where we took our stroller into a little book shop to browse or a tiny restaurant to pick up takeaway, and I can see why strollers don’t make it into many places – some are just REALLY small. We might have looked like blaringly obvious tourists and caught a funny look from an Indian restaurant owner when we struggled to get our stroller over the threshold just to come in and order our takeaway, but there was no one else in the restaurant and we needed dinner. Oh well.
Here in the U.S., the thought of leaving your kid unattended outside is unheard of. People would think you were crazy if, say, you walked into Starbucks and left your kid sitting outside the door. Tommy and I talked about whether or not any Danes visiting the U.S. would think it was okay to leave their kid outside here… I guess it’s actually happened.