In case you couldn't guess, folks, that's Danish for happy new year.
Tonight is my last night in Copenhagen, and quite a last night it was. I spent the past week with my family, partaking in exciting Danish traditions such as dancing around the Christmas tree and singing Chanukah O Chanukah (ok, well, most Danes sing Christmas songs) and continuing the classic American Christmas tradition of watching movies and eating Chinese food.
Here's the family about to partake in an actual Danish tradition of eating a marzipan pig (the traditional gift for the one who finds the whole almond in their rice pudding, also something we sampled, though we all shared the "prize").
And Mom and Jason warming themselves in the evening at Tivoli Gardens.
But after they left this morning, I had New Year's Eve on my own to celebrate with the Danes.
In general, I've found Denmark to be a much better organized, tamer country than the US - trains run on time, streets are clean, people are generally polite. But Danish new year's celebrations are, well, crazy. A nice Indian man I stood next to in the main square in town to watch the festivities said it was much more "grand" than anything he was used to, but I stand by crazy.
In the US, I'm also used to new year's being a time for fireworks...but in the parts of the US where I've lived most of my life, fireworks are set off by trained professionals in pre-arranged displays. Not here - in Denmark (as in Iceland) it seems that anyone can get a batch of fireworks and set them off in downtown Copenhagen.
To my American sensibilities, this seems like a horribly bad idea. There were fireworks shooting off in all directions, across the ground and towards buildings and young children throwing sparklers along the sidewalks. The favorite, however, seemed to be explosives without the firework that would boom so loudly that they left my ears ringing and literally shook the sidewalk. These were thrown right in the road, where buses, taxis, and later police and ambulance vans drove right past, seemingly unphased by the explosions.
Here's a video of the smoke from one of them (I missed the bang, but it was loud), immediately followed by many of the police vans that came to monitor the action.
Once I got past the shock of regular ground-shaking explosions and having to check for lit fuses before crossing a street, it was really exciting to watch - much more so than the sort of fireworks displays I'm used to, though I still have a nagging sense that somehow this must be a bad idea if the evening requires so many ambulances. But, hey, who am I to question a cherished Danish tradition?
Plus, it was really fun to watch, no tickets or whole-day waits required, and definitely not something I'd see at home. Here's what the fireworks looked like over the crowd at midnight - all, mind you, set off by individuals, not as part of any organized show.
It was certainly an exciting conclusion to my three months in Denmark and to 2007. Early tomorrow (today) I'm flying to London and then heading north to Scotland for further adventures beginning the next phase of my project in the new year.
But for now, here's wishing you all the best for 2008!