If there is one thing everyone should know about Danes, it's that they love their traditions. Some would even say that in Denmark, “tradition is our religion”. Confirmation within the Church of Denmark is one these traditions and if you're a bit confused on what it's all about, here is a handy guide.
1. What is a confirmation or 'nonfirmation'?
Photo: Mads Jensen /Scanpix
Confirmation has been around in Denmark since 1736. It was an obligatory religious act, and if you were not confirmed at church you were not allowed to study or work. Fortunately that's not the case anymore.
Even though for some Danes confirmation is a religious act, today it doesn't really matter if participants believe in God or not. While many may think that confirmation is about saying yes to God and confirming your baptism, it is actually God saying yes to you and accepting you as his child. So even the non-faithful get in on the act, often taking a crash course in the religious aspects in the weeks before the big day.
Others have embraced the idea of a 'nonfirmation', which basically includes all of the partying and gifts (more on that later) but none of that God business.
Most of all, confirmation is a celebration and a time-honoured coming of age ritual.
2. Who is it for?
Photo: Preben Madsen/Scanpix
It is for white-clad teens between 14-17, though most take part in the tradition while they are in seventh grade, meaning they are typically around 15 years old.
According to the Church Ministry, 48,334 teens were confirmed in 2015 and that is 71 percent of the all the teens in the country. The number of teens participating each year has dropped by around six percent since 2001, but rebounded slightly last year.
3. When does it take place?
Photo: FRANK RUMPENHORST/Scanpix
Confirmation day typically falls on a Sunday sometime in April, May or June, dependent on the local church schedule. However, Saturday confirmations have become increasingly popular in recent years.
in order to be able to get confirmed in the church teens are obligated to attend 48 hours of confirmation class during the school year. Classes usually start in autumn of the year before until the April of the year they want to be confirmed. In these classes they learn about the basics of Christianity and decide for themselves if they want to believe in God or not.
4. What is the church ceremony all about?
The ceremony is usually huge. It is normal to confirm from 10 to 30 teens in one church, or even more, depending on the church's size. Some churches host two to three ceremonies in one day and with guests of every family attending the ceremony, the crowds can be enormous.
Pro tip 2: If you are invited to the festivities, it is very rude to just pop up at the party. You have to attend the who ceremony.
5. What about the after party?
Photo: Lars Plougmann/Flickr
For most people, this is the biggest event of the day. Families and friends are invited to a big party, that often has a them and a three course menu with A LOT of speeches and homemade songs.
Usually there will be a wish list included in the invitation. It is quite common – and considered acceptable – for the young people to ask for expensive gifts such as iPhones, computers, gold jewellery, gift certificates, and money as their confirmation gift.
Photo: Marie Hald/Scanpix
Oh did you think the party is over? Maybe for you, but all of those teens who were confirmed in the church on Sunday are going out to party all day on the following Monday afterwards. Even schools give them a free pass that day! Blue Monday is about having fun and blowing through a lot of that money they just collected.
The day consists of shopping, amusement parks and restaurants. And the only blue is the colour of their jeans and hopefully the skies over Denmark.
8. How much does it cost to host a confirmation?
According to Nordea Bank, the average Danish family will invite 37 guests to a confirmation party and spend 30,375 kroner on the food, the present and party clothing to celebrate their teens.