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Saturday in the park…

. . . I think it was the Fifth of July. Actually, I know it was the Fifth of July as it was just last Saturday!

Everything changes in Copenhagen on the weekend. People seem much more relaxed, the car and bike traffic disappears (relatively speaking), and you can find lots of people having a good time at the numerous, large parks.

I love the parks here. Each has a unique, distinctive quality, yet all share a common Denmarkian (is that a word?–OK, Danish) feel that is very different from any park you’d find in the states.

60 Minutes recently did a feature story on the Danes being the happiest people on earth. On the weekends, at least, you can really see that at a park. They have laws prohibiting overtime work, a required maximum work week of 37 hours (which means most stores and businesses close right at 5 Monday through Thursday and at 2 on Friday), and forced vacations of at least 5 weeks a year.

Last Saturday we headed out to the largest park in our area, Frederiksberg Have.

pacifier disposal tree in frederiksberg park copenhagen denmark

While at the park we got caught in a very brief downpour (which seems to happen a couple times a week here in the summer). We headed for cover and wound up under a tree that was loaded with baby pacifiers hanging from it. Some had inscriptions attached to them, and reminded me a bit of Japanese ema. Not being able to make out what the wording attached to the pacifiers said (being in Danish of course), we asked a passerby what the deal was with this tree.

He said that people bring their kids here when they are ready to give up their pacifiers and tie them to the tree. They attach a written fond farewell and thanks for the help the pacifier has given the child to this point in their lives. Before winter someone comes out and takes all of the pacifiers down. Apparently the tree can’t support that many pacifiers and snow.

We thought it was a cute tradition. I think we had to trick our kids out of their pacifiers so the Danish method seems more humane and ceremonial. Plus, every Dane that we saw approach the tree had a smile come across their face.

Frederiksberg Palace in Copenhagen

The park and palace at the end of the park are over 300 years old. Frederiksberg Park contains some canals which were built in the century following the building of the “palace” (sometimes called “castle” in English). Apparently Frederik IV would sail around the canals. Last Saturday, people were rowing little boats around them.

frederiksberg park lake

pirates in frederiksberg park

While walking one of the trails we saw pirate signs so Ryan wanted to take that trail. It went through some thick foliage, but we never found the pirate treasure.

Cricket in Denmark?

A wide variety of games were being played by the Danes, few of which I recognized. Some were playing catch with small balls (no baseball gloves so they didn’t actually catch the ball much of the time), others played variations on soccer, and the above photo shows a group playing something that sort of looked like baseball or cricket (but I don’t think it was either).

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