Saint Johns Eve, Celebrating Students and Constitution Day
Saint Johns Eve bonfire in Hornbæk. Photo: Tine Uffelmann / VisitNordsjælland
May is a bright and sunny bridge between spring and summer in Denmark, and we hope that you are enjoying it 🌞 The team here at Expat in Denmark has officially swapped the treadmill in the gym with the running paths surrounded by green and blooming trees outside - and we love it!

The next month offers a handful of traditions and celebrations that we want to include you in. Most of these traditions and celebrations are outdoors - we need to enjoy the warm rays of sun while we can! In this edition of our newsletter we have focused on highlighting these traditions. Amazing bonfires on beaches, happy students celebrating and driving on the loads of open trucks, and flags on busses. The festive month, June, is ahead of you 🎉
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Saint Johns Eve / Sankt Hans, June 23
Saint Johns Eve bonfire in Hornbæk. Photo: Tine Uffelmann / VisitNordsjælland
Sankt Hans or Saint Johns Eve is, as many other Danish traditions a mixture of pagan and Christian traditions. Sankt Hans Aften celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist with the Danish name Sankt Hans, who is believed to have been born on June 24th. However, because Danes, according to Nordic tradition, like to celebrate the night before, Sankt Hans Aften is celebrated on the eve of June 23th – just like Christmas is celebrated on December 24th instead of the 25th. This is however not the reason for why the evening originally was celebrated. Originally, it was a pagan marking of sun solstice, which later was altered to be a Christian tradition.
In the days leading up to Sankt Hans Aften, big bonfires get build which are burned on the eve, while groups of people watch and sing songs throughout the night. For many people, Sankt Hans Aften is the night to celebrate summer while being in the company of friends and family. The bonfire would traditionally have featured a straw witch, but it is no longer a staple of the night, since it does stem from the time of persecutions of witches, that took place all over Europe in the 17th century.

Today, Sankt Hans Aften is a really cozy gathering that we advice you to go and explore with your friends and/or family. Click on the button below to see a summary of some of the most popular places in Denmark to see the infamous Sankt Hans bonfire 👇
Danish students, white caps and trucks loaded with them
One of the Danish graduation caps. Photo: Rene Deleuran Molgaard Andersen / Deleuranfoto
To the untrained eye, there seems to be something unusual about Denmark’s youth in late June every year. In towns of all sizes all over the country, young people can be spotted riding around in open-backed trucks blaring horns and music, jumping into water or drinking beers in cafés or parks.

They are Denmark’s latest class of high school graduates or studenter, and it’s easy to spot who they are – they’re the ones wearing white caps.

The students spend up to two weeks celebrating their high school certificates, going to parties and taking the studenterkørsel: a trip around town on a colourfully decorated truck, often emblazoned with innuendo-themed wordplays. The trucks stop at the homes of each class member, where parents provide food and drinks. Above this article we have found a nice photo that can give you a feel of what this celebration is about, but we also hope that you get to see one drive by you in late June this year. It's a special yet funny experience that makes most people smile - if you clap your hands when the students pass you, be sure to see a lot of happy faces, they are usually more than happy to celebrate with the public!
Constitution Day, June 5
The Danish Constituent Assembly. Christiansborg, Copenhagen, 1848. Painting: Constantin Hansen, paiting completed 1860-1864.
Denmark today is a democracy and a monarchy at the same time. But it is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the power of the monarch is limited by the Constitutional Act.

The reigning monarch, Queen Margrethe II, has no political power. She does not interfere in political life or express political opinions. Yet, she does perform certain official functions related to political life, such as attending the opening of the Danish Parliament, signing laws that have been passed, and formally appointing the Prime Minister.

The Constitutional Act is the most important piece of legislation in Denmark, and all other laws must comply with it.

The division of power 
As in many other democracies, the Danish Constitutional Act divides power into three independent branches in order to prevent the abuse of power. In Denmark, the Danish Parliament is the legislative power, enacting the laws of the country. The Government is the executive power, ensuring that laws are implemented. And the courts of law are the judicial power, pronouncing judgements in disputes between citizens and between the authorities and citizens.

Amendments to the Constitutional Act
The Constitutional Act of Denmark is one of the oldest constitutions in the world. It has only been amended a few times since it was enacted in 1849. This is partly because making an amendment is a rather complex procedure, requiring that both the Danish Parliament and the Danish people agree to it. However, another important reason is that the wording in the Constitutional Act is so general that it can still be applied today, despite major changes in society and political life over the past 160 years.

The Origin of the Constitutional Act
From 1660 to 1848, Denmark was an absolute monarchy, a form of government that was the norm in many European countries at the time. In the 18th century, however, there was growing opposition to absolute monarchy in Europe. People demanded the right to decide how their countries should be governed, and monarchies were overthrown in several countries and replaced by republics.

As international developments began to accelerate, King Christian VIII decided that Denmark should also have a free constitution. Before he died in 1848, he therefore ordered his son, Frederik VII to promise the Danish people a new constitution that guaranteed them freedom and equality and prevented any one person from having unlimited power.

It was signed by King Frederik VII on June 5, 1849. This date is therefore known in Denmark as Constitution Day and is celebrated every year as a national holiday with political meetings held throughout the country. The painting above is from that very day in 1849, and can be seen at The Museum of National History in Copenhagen.

Click on the button below for a deeper dive into the contents of the Constitutional Act of Denmark 👇
Upcoming events for you
Funen (Odense area)

Join a mixed group of internationals and Danes meeting in an informal setting to speak Danish with each other. The focus is language used in everyday situations.

This initiative was originally launched by a couple of passionate volunteers who have experienced that it can be difficult to practice Danish language outside of Danish language classes. 

Join Chat in Danish's Facebook group on the link above to receive all news an announcements from the organizers, next Chat in Danish event is on May 28.
Jutland (Aarhus area)

Not an ambassador yet? No worries! Join HEADSTART and discover the great ambassador network - a team of volunteers living in Denmark who share insights about their expat life on social media, this way helping promote Denmark as a great place to live and work. 

This workshop aims to help you reinforce your soft skills within social media, personal branding, storytelling or knowledge sharing. So you become an even awesomer ambassador, but also to give you tools to better showcase your work/passion/expertise.

Join Headstart on June 10 at 10:00-14:00, at Kjeld Tolstrups Gade 12, 8000 Aarhus.
Zealand (Copenhagen area)

Interested in renting a home or buying cooperative housing in Denmark?

At this event, you will be guided through the Danish housing market and what you should look out for when considering renting a place to live or buying cooperative housing. International House Copenhagen will present different kinds of financing options and describe the various areas in Copenhagen. You will also get information about insurance products in Denmark.

On June 15 at 17:00-19:00 you can attend this event physically at Nyropsgade 1, 1602 København V.