Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Merry Christmas....in November?!

There have been many times in the past two and half months where I have begun blog entries only to get distracted and – to paraphrase Aldous Snow in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall – “just carried on living my life.” For a while, just a trip to the grocery store was a serious undertaking and an adventure of near-mythic proportions, so please forgive me for the serious delay. I have never, ever been good at keeping a record of my activities. In fact, I’m pretty sure that pink, sparkly scented gel pen was my writing tool of choice when I last kept a diary. But since I am living at least six hours ahead of just about everyone I know, I have finally realized that a blog is the best way of sharing my life with family and friends and am kicking my butt into gear.

I originally studied abroad in Copenhagen during fall 2009 at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), which typically has several Gettysburg College students attending each semester. I lived with a host family in small harbor town of Dragør, which is about an hour outside of the city center by bus. The friends I made during that semester became some of my best friends at college, and I wish I could have smuggled them back here with me in my suitcases. Long story short, I fell in love with Copenhagen, came back to the States, applied for a Fulbright, and to my great joy, was selected for a ten-month long grant to study land management at the University of Copenhagen. My project proposal focused on the still-undergoing development of the Danish national park system. I will say more about what I’ve learned so far in another post, as this one will already be pretty long. But now for some cultural exchange!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Too soon? Not in Copenhagen, where the Christmas season officially began this past Friday at 8:59 PM, with the release of Carlsberg Brewery’s Tuborg Julebryg. Julebryg is a Christmas beer released on the first Friday in November each year and the entire city of Copenhagen gets in on the celebration. The first J-dag (or J-day) was held on a Wednesday in 1990, but as time went on, the powers that be began to notice that young people were not turning up to school and work the following morning! Thus, J-dag was moved to a Friday. Despite only being on the market for about six weeks, Julebryg is reportedly Denmark’s fourth best selling beer. Tuborg trucks drive around to various bars, opening to reveal workers with free beer, light-up hats, bells, and horns. I also learned the hard way that you must be careful when they dance past you – it can end up being a drive-by stamping! The next thing I knew, my arms and neck were all saying “Glædelig jul og godt tub' år, “ or “Merry Christmas and a good Tuborg!” Thanks, Tuborg man, but I would have preferred the free beer or maybe a hat.

As much as I miss being home for the fall, enthusiasm for Christmas more than makes up for missing Thanksgiving. Fake snow outside of bars, fake snow on the windows, even fake snow on the table centerpieces. Fake snow on you and me and even somehow in my festively wrapped beer bottle! Copenhagen takes on a wonderfully festive atmosphere during the holiday season. There's something magical about rounding a corner and seeing Gråbrødretorv all lit up, with everyone gathered outside the bars and restaurants. Singing “Jingle Bells” at the top of my lungs with a bunch of random Danes flinging fake snow is a memory I will never forget. And then it was time for a sweaty, crowded dance party upstairs in Den Glade Gris, AKA The Happy Pig, always a good way to end a night, even sans light-up Santa hat.

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