A unique Danish way of celebrating high school graduation

Share this post Copenhagen,-Denmark | Chirag Virani | Hetal Virani

When I was doing my masters, we went on a summer exchange program to Copenhagen Business School (CBS) as a part of our MBA exchange program from Ryerson University.

One of the first things we noticed after moving to Copenhagen was that almost everyone rode bicycles. Since we were there to experience the Danish culture, we also rented bicycle for the entire period of our exchange program. We felt like locals as rode bicycles to CBS every day to attend our lectures.

During the month of June, we saw hundreds of young Danish students wearing white caps and celebrating something really special on the streets of Copenhagen. We got curious because it looked like a lot of fun. Before we could figure out what exactly they were celebrating, we saw a few more colourful open-back trucks filled with students dancing, screaming, waving and having the best time of their lives.

After asking some of our classmates who were from Denmark, we found out that it was a part of their high school graduation celebration. It turns out that the party truck stops at the houses of every student of the graduating class. Students bring food and drinks which is specially prepared by their parents. The celebration typically lasts for an entire day, but many students keep wearing their special graduation caps during their entire summer holidays.

We were lucky enough to be in Denmark in the third week of June. Apparently, June 23 is celebrated as Sankt Hans Eve which is a midsummer witch burning ritual that takes place in many Nordic countries. We were casually strolling around in one of the parks in Copenhagen and heard some people singing near a small pond. Out of curiosity we walked towards the pond and saw big crowds gathered around a witch doll made out of old clothes, straws and firecrackers.

After asking a few people about what exactly we were witnessing, we found out that it was a midsummer celebration of light overcoming darkness. The evening was filled with a lot of singing and dancing around a large bonfire.

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