Rebild – A Danish-American Celebration Posted by Bjørn A. Bojesen on Jul 4, 2012 in Denmark and the World, Geography, History
Knowing that many of my readers are Americans, I can’t find any excuses not to have a post about the Rebild Festival! 🙂
And 2012 is the right year to tell you about it, as it is exactly 100 years ago a group of danskamerikanere (Danish-Americans) and Danes combined forces and launched the first mayor celebration of American Independence on Danish soil. It was a great success, and each year on July 4th Danes and Americans have flocked to Rebild Bakker to take part in what has become known as Rebildfesten (the Rebild party), or, in English, the Rebild Festival. Today, it is rumored to be the biggest July 4th celebration outside the US…
Yeah, I should’ve been there in person, to tell you about all the taler (speeches) and flag and festklædte mennesker (people in gala). (Click here to see some photos of last year’s event!) Fortunately, I’ve been to Rebild Bakker several times, so let’s take a look at the place…
A bakke is a ’hill’, and Rebild is a small village in the region called Himmerland, in eastern Nordjylland (Northern Jutland). Just outside the village there is a marvellous landscape of bakker, covered with lyng (heather). The hills are crisscrossed with stier (pathways), leading travellers across shady dips and round hilltops. It’s a wonderful place to explore as a child! Landskabet (the landscape) has a feeling of mystery and wildness to it that is rarely found in flat, industrialized Denmark.
I guess the party-planners of 1912 must have come to Rebild and felt the wind in their faces and thought: ”Well, this reminds me of the prairie back in Kansas…” To remind us of this heritage, a US-style blokhus (log cabin, literally ’block house’) has been built in the highest part of the plateau. It currently serves as a museum [moo-SEH-oom].
Why celebrate the national day of a foreign country? If I had a chance to interview the participants of Rebildfesten, I’m sure they’d have loads of good arguments… Although Denmark is now busy making new friends in places like China, there is a historical link between the US and Denmark, in particular between the US and Jutland – as seen in the stories of Danish-Americans and in jysk (Jutlandic, Jutish) literature such as Himmerlandsfortællinger (Himmerland stories) by Johannes V. Jensen, the great 20th Century Jutland storyteller.