Danske studenter, traditioner, studenterhuer

The Consultant as a young Student - in 1988

Danish Students everywhere ...

Just these days, this year's students are having their final exams. Did you know that there are many traditions associated with becoming a student in Denmark? And, by the way: “Student” (in Danish) means a person who just finished high school (Gymnasium) where as “studerende” is a person who studies at the university, e.g.

“Studenterhuen” - the student’s hat (or, rather: cap);

After the final exam, you put on the student’s hat. Earlier, it used to be the teacher who gave the student his hat - today, it is often his parents or siblings. A student’s hat is quite expensive; It costs between 500 and 800 DKR, depending on whether you want special decorations, e.g. one's name embroidered on the edge.

The tradition of students’ hats dates back to the mid-19th century. Back then, you wore a black hat in the winter and a white one in the summer, and you wore the hat until you had taken your master's degree. Today, the hat is used mostly in the weeks following graduation. It is also a tradition that the girls wear white dresses, perhaps with something red to match, and the boys wear white T-shirts or shirts.

Today, you can get hats for almost all exams - but it is the white hat, with burgundy colored ribbon, that is considered the classic, traditional student’s hat.

Different traditions are associated with the student’s hat. Inside the hat, friends write their names and maybe some sweet or funny greetings. If you watch a sunrise- that is, if you have been partying all night, a triangular notch is made in the edge of the hat. If you get so drunk that you throw up, you make a notch in the shade of the hat. And, by the way; you must never try on a student’s hat before your exam - it brings misfortune, it is said. If you do, you must jump over the hat three times - backwards.

Once you have put on your hat, it's time for "students’ tour". It is also an old tradition that all the new students in the class go round to call on all the parents to greet them and say congratulations on behalf of their child’s exam. In the old days, people lived closer to each other, and you drove around in a horse-drawn carriage, decorated with flags and beech branches. Today, students often live far apart - i.e. because more people go to high school now - and most drive in a truck. But it is still adorned with flags, banners and beech branches. The students are happy, smiling, singing, dancing and waving to people they pass by. And they drink a lot, while they do it ….

When you visit the parents, it is a tradition that you get a drink, i.e. a glass of wine or a beer. When you sum it up, it can turn into many drinks in a class with approx. 30 students…. It is also a tradition that students drink in the truck while driving. Fortunately, it is part of the tradition that the students take good care of each other.

Is it a problem that young people drink so much? Absolutely. However, drinking is part of our culture, when we celebrate something, and it is considered part of growing up. And becoming a student is the beginning of adult life.

The award-winning movie, “Druk” (Another Round) staring Mads Mikkelsen as a high school teacher who drinks with his colleagues - and students - explains the role that alcohol plays in Danish culture well, especially when we celebrate the new students each summer.