Friday, April 10, 2009

Not exactly the Easter Bunny

Half-mast Danish flag on Dronning Louises Bro—View northwest towards Nørrebro (09 April 2009)

It's Easter vacation time, and the weather is beautiful, so not many Danes are working unless they have to. Among the "not many" are myself and a few insane co-workers trying to get a couple of extra experiments in before the weekend. Of course we do try to get outdoors for lunch, at least. Yesterday a colleague and I ended up getting our lunch from Non Solo Pizza (Nørrebrogade 18b), a nice Italian takeout place not far from work. While we were waiting for our pizzas to bake, we walked out along Nørrebrogade and over Dronning Louises Bro, the bridge over Peblingesø that connects on the other side with Frederiksborggade, which continues on towards Nørreport Station and København K. On the way, Katrine noticed that Danish flags were flying half-mast on the Fredriksborggade side of the bridge but—strangely—all the way up on the Nørrebrogade side. We thought at first it had something to do with Easter, and tried to come up with some rationale why they were at half-mast only on one side of the bridge.
The photo above, taken from the Frederiksborggade side, documents the situation. Just about 2 minutes after I took it, two city workers showed up and started to raise the flag all the way up. When Katrine asked one of them what this was about, he explained that it had nothing to do with with Easter; the flags were at half-mast to mark Danmarks besættelse, the day the Germans invaded Denmark in 1940. Last year I noted Danmarks befrielse, the day the German occupation ended in 1945; well, you can't have a befrielse (liberation) without a besættelse (occupation). Sure enough, my Danish desk calendar shows 09 May as a day to fly the flag at half-mast until 12:00. We now guessed that the guys must have just finished raising the flags on the Nørrebrogade side before we got there; maybe they had a smoke before raising the other pair on the Frederiksborggade side.
But why are the flags flown at half-mast only until noon, Katrine asked the worker. "We wouldn't want to spend a whole day on this," was his reply.

A squad of Danish troops on the morning of the German invasion, 09 April 1940, photographed near Bredevad in Southern Jutland. Two of these men were killed later that day.*
*This image file is a work in the public domain, obtained from Wikimedia Commons (File:Danish soldiers on 9 April 1940.jpg). Original source: C. Næsh Hendriksen: Den danske Kamp i Billeder og Ord, Odense: Bogforlaget Dana, 1945, p. 18.

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