Americans across the USA and throughout the world will be celebrating Independence Day today. This is a time for picnics and BBQs, family get-togethers and fireworks, and a general chance to celebrate all that is great about the nation.
For those who haven’t brushed up on their history about U.S. independence from the British Empire, they probably know about this special day through popular culture. Films like Independence Day and Born on the 4th of July have brought Independence Day into our general knowledge. But, not a lot of people know that Denmark leads the charge in celebrating Independence Day in Europe as well.
Why Do The Danes Celebrate Independence Day?
No, it’s not Denmark’s day of independence. This day was traditionally observed by ex-pats living in Denmark, who would gather at military bases and tourist bars. But, this all-American tradition has now converted into a Danish one as well. Thousands of Danes will gather in a national park to picnic, listen to American songs, like “Home on the Range,” and observe an explosion of fireworks.
This Independence Day tradition started in 1911, when a group of Danish-Americans decided to purchase some land on the Jutland peninsula, a part of Denmark renowned for its natural beauty. The land was handed over as a gift to King Christian IX, with one condition; that they continued to observe the Independence Day 4th July holiday. And keep up the tradition they have.
An American Holiday in Denmark
Egon Bodtker, President of the Danish American Heritage Society, says “I think Danes to some extent are really like Americans in that a lot of people like a good party. It’s really just a nice day out.”
In fact, the celebrations in Denmark begin on July 2nd, but the main event will be observed this evening as the sun goes down and the fireworks come out after midnight.
A Time for Family Fun – And Controversy
While July 4th is generally a joyous occasion and ideal family fun for everyone, politics has on occasion interfered with the event. There are those who are against the idea of Danish people celebrating an American holiday. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, in particular, there were protests during the cold war and, more especially, when general Pinochet of Chile came to power after a US-backed military coup.
But, it’s a rare Independence Day that’s tainted by political backlash these days in Denmark. Most people really see the occasion as a chance to eat, drink and be merry, and just enjoy the festivities.
So, however (and wherever) you’re celebrating Independence Day today, a very happy July 4th to Americans (and Danes) all around the world!