Kulturnatten 2014

In Denmark, there is a week of holiday called efterårsferie (autumn holiday), which is also known as kartoffelferie (potato holiday), as in the old days schoolkids get a week off to help with potato harvest. These days, schoolkids still have a week off and there are no classes (including at universities and language schools). However, there is no longer any need for these kids to work at a farm picking potatoes.

On the Friday preceding the potato week, there is kulturnat (Culture Night) in Copenhagen. (I guess kulturnat is somewhat similar to White Night in Melbourne.) On that day, a lot of institutions open their doors to the public, and people can come in and check out what’s behind the normally closed doors in Copenhagen. In a very Danish way, everything is free… as long as you have a pass. These places are supposed to be open from 6 pm to midnight, but there are many which close much earlier (8-9 pm). Public transport around Copenhagen is also free from 5 pm to 5 am on Saturday. There are of course a lot of people in the City, and there are queues everywhere.

Kulturnatten 2014 badge.
Kulturnatten 2014 badge

This year, a group of us went to several places:

  • The first place we went to was Sankt Petri Kirke (Saint Peter’s Church), where we visited the catacombs. It’s actually not as impressive as it sounds. We were expecting to go under the church, but the catacombs were only at the back of the church. We didn’t even need our torches.
  • We briefly visited the Metro construction at the Rådhus (City Hall), but unfortunately didn’t get to see the tunnels, as the line was so long!
  • At the Rådhus, we visited Jens Olsens Verdensur (Jens Olsen’s World Clock). This one I really like, actually.
  • Jens Olsens Verdensur (Jens Olsen’s World Clock) at the Rådhus (City Hall).
    Jens Olsens Verdensur (Jens Olsen’s World Clock) at the Rådhus (City Hall).
  • At this stage, the rest of the gang left for beer-tasting. I decided to go to the Brandvæsen (Fire Department) and checked it out.
  • I went past the fængsel (prison) and a photography exhibition as I made my way to catch up with the guys again. Of course, they were still in line. It would take them another half hour to finally get into Europa-Huset and get their beer. Meanwhile, I caught up with another group and went to the barracks of the Kongelige Livgarde (Royal Life Guards).
  • Shortly afterwards, we joined forces with the beer-tasting group again and visited the Botanisk Have (Botanical Gardens). There were some light show at the lake and the palmhus (palm house). They were quite cool, but slightly underwhelming.

Those were all that we could see that night. I think next year if I am still in Copenhagen, I will go and check out the prison and the Rosenborg Slot (Rosenborg Castle). The latter you can explore in the darkness! They turn the lights off, and you are free to wander around using torches.

The Vikings

Viking exhibition at the National Museum.
Viking exhibition at the National Museum.

Things I learnt about the Vikings today:

  • Viking is an occupation. Not everybody in the Viking era was a Viking.
  • They mainly did trade and exploration.
  • When they did pillage and plunder, they liked to lie in wait and ambush their targets.
  • They explored pretty much all of Europe, and went as far as Russia and Newfoundland
  • The names Russia and Normandy actually refer to something related to the Vikings. Russia refers to the Rus people, and Normandy means “north man”.
  • They rarely went back to Scandinavia after going on a viking.
  • The men wore jewellery, mostly to impress other people.
  • They did not wear horned helmets.
  • Berserk is a loan word from old Norse, meaning either “bear skin” or “bare skin”.
  • They enjoyed board games such as chess.
  • One of the Vikings (Harald Bluetooth) claimed to have united Denmark and Norway and converted Danes to Christianity. While his first claim might be true, Christianity  never really took off.