Text: Josephine Wan
Danes love to celebrate life! So many occasions in life are precious, but some are more precious than others. High school graduation in Denmark is one of them.
Parting is such sweet sorrow
In one of my previous articles, I mentioned the strong sense of community young people have here. A lot is happening during their final month of high school: final exams, achieving significant milestones, the upcoming memorial celebration, and well-deserved summer holidays. This is not an experience they celebrate alone but with the whole class as one unique community.
The final exam
The final is usually an oral exam. Unlike other countries, this final exam is not competitive. Instead, there is a lot of support from classmates as they cheer for each other once they leave the classroom. When the final exam is completed, and they’ve received their grade, they now hold the title of student (high school graduate). The student's parents and family are waiting outside the exam room to congratulate their child by handing them a rose. One of the parents does the honour of placing the studenterhue (the graduation cap) on their head.
It's all about the hat
Families and studenter usually go out for dinner the same evening, and the student will, of course, be wearing their studenterhue. It’s the norm to wear the graduation cap for at least 2 weeks, and there are lots of fun rules surrounding the dos and don’ts of cap etiquette. They are proud of showing others their achievement, and it is courtesy that people they meet on the street congratulate them, even if they don’t know each other.
On the graduation cap, there is a ribbon representing which kind of youth education they have completed. In the old days, there were only two: blue (for Mathematics students) and red (for Arts students). However, as I also mentioned in one of my previous articles, Denmark offers a wide range of youth educations. Today, you can see graduation caps with ribbons of many colours: red (STX), light blue (HF), royal blue (HHX), marine blue (HTX) and many more, which you can read about on this website: https://www.alt.dk/artikler/studenterhue-farver-det-betyder-de-forskellige-farver
If you’re not familiar with the different youth educations, you can go back and refer to this article where I introduced them: https://www.the-intl.com/post/choosing-a-high-school-education
The truck ride
After all the hard work and celebration with family, this is the day the students have been waiting for! Now it’s time for the whole class to kick back and relax with their classmates. Students that are a year behind them decorate special open-top trucks equipped with loud stereo systems and designated drivers. Before explaining the drive, it’s good to mention the student truck ride fun rules (studenterkørsel regler). These fun rules vary from school to school and range from learning a battle cry to scream at passing student trucks to jogging behind the truck if you received a high grade on your final exam. There are many more and lots of websites to check out what different students do: http://skullemantageenoel.dk/studenterkorsel-olspil/
"It’s the norm to wear the graduation cap for at least 2 weeks – there are lots of fun rules surrounding the dos and don’ts of cap etiquette."
The proud moment for students and parents is when they drive round to each student's home, where they make a short visit – usually no more than 15 minutes, depending on the size of the class. Once there, parents will organise snacks and drinks for the thirsty students before they hop back on the truck and head out to the next destination. Some truck rides have to be celebrated over two days due to geographical areas and limited time. The trucks play loud music, and the studenter are in a great mood, drinking and cheering as the truck drives past motorists and pedestrians. Everyone greets and sends their congratulations when they see these trucks. Studenterkørsel is such a lovely Danish tradition that they celebrate with their fellow studenter and the rest of Denmark.
So, when you see them out and about this summer, don’t forget to wave, honk a horn and generally send them good cheer for their future into adult life!