Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year - Danish Style

My Dad is one of those "safety Dads" which meant (a) we never had a trampoline, (b) always wore our seat belts, (c) had to learn to swim before we were allowed on a boat, (d) always locked our doors, and (e) never had fireworks bigger than sparklers. I called my Dad on the First to wish him a happy New Year and informed him that a Danish New Years celebration would turn his hair white.

We were invited to a friend's house for New Years where we ate grønlangkål and brown potatoes - two traditional Danish dishes. At 6:00PM we watched Queen Margrethe give her annual New Years speech. At this point fireworks were going off at regular intervals - enough to keep my toddler's nose pasted to the fifth floor apartment window narrating the display from time-to-time with a "BOOM! BOOM!"

Just before my friend's daughter went to bed, her Dad mentioned that he wanted to do the "champaign bottle" with her. He set a sheet of foil on the coffee table, placed a plastic champaign bottle on top of it and lit a fuse. I was sitting about a foot away from this indoor firework, contemplating my mortality, when it went off with a BANG sending confetti, noise makers and small poppers flying all over the room.

From what I can gather, there is no distinction between legal and illegal fireworks in Denmark. Anyone can buy whatever kind of fireworks they want and Danes spend a significant amount of money every New Year on them. After the clock at City Hall struck midnight (the Danish version of the ball dropping in Times Square), the entire city erupted all around us with fireworks. All along the skyline, in the parking lot of the apartment building we were in, as far as I could see in both directions was the largest fireworks display I have ever witnessed. And it went on for a solid 30 minutes.

Around 1:00PM when John and I were dropped off at our own apartment, there was a group of four guys with champaign bottles setting off their last remaining fireworks and at the other end of the street an ambulance packing up someone. The streets in our neighborhood were littered with broken bottles and the remnants of fireworks. Michael had arrived back from the APA around 9:30PM and was jet lagged just enough to sleep through the fireworks being set off in front of our building.

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