ELVERHØJ MUSEUM OF HISTORY & ART

Danish Days Memories

The beginning of fall in Solvang means warm days, cool evenings, harvest – and Danish Days! However, this year the annual three-day festival has been cancelled because of the pandemic. 

Although we can’t virtually share the smell of the æbleskiver and medisterpølse breakfast or the sounds of bands and energetic folk dancers entertaining crowds, we can share photo and video memories of Danish Days.

This is the first installment in a 3-day series of Danish Days memories marking what was to have been the 84th annual Danish Days. We begin with the history of Danish Days and a video of Maids through the decades.

Danish Days memorabilia.

The history of Danish Days goes back to Solvang’s silver anniversary in 1936. The town threw a massive, three-day party in typical Danish fashion. Beginning on June 5, Grundlovsdag (Denmark’s Constitution Day), the festivities included parades, a torchlight procession, folk dancing, gymnastics, an open-air theatrical tableau, concerts of choral singing and solo performances, speeches, three amateur plays, barbecues, and street dancing.

Solvang's Silver Anniversary celebration in 1936 was the precursor of Danish Days. A particular highlight was the pageant, "The Last of the Vikings."

The celebration was so well received that Solvang decided to have another party the following year, this time in July. Though the timing had changed, the theme still reflected Denmark’s Constitution Day. These two events were the precursor of Danish Days, which became immensely popular in the following decades.

The ever-popular æbleskiver breakfast in the 1950s.

In fact, thanks to an article in The Saturday Evening Post in January of 1947, Solvang’s Danish Days celebration that year attracted almost 10,000 people, quite an overwhelming number for a town with fewer than 1,400 residents. Crowds continued to increase each year until Solvang was forced to cancel the event in 1959 and 1960, when sanitary conditions could no longer keep pace with the horde of visitors.

Young folk dancers perform during a Danish Days parade.

Facilities were upgraded, and Danish Days resumed for Solvang’s Golden Anniversary in 1961. In the years that followed, residents and visitors alike could take part in enthusiastic expressions of Danish heritage, including ring riding and games of horsemanship, exhibits of arts and crafts, æbleskiver breakfasts, organ recitals, music, gymnastics exhibits, and folk dancing.

Danish Maids representing 50 years.

Since 1967, a Danish Maid has been selected each year to represent Solvang and demonstrate the town’s hospitality. The Maid makes appearances throughout the year and has an honorary role in Danish Days festivities. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO

Danish Days Memories - 50 years of Danish Maids (video, 3 min.)

The citywide party will resume in 2021 on the third weekend of September, organized and executed by a team of volunteers which includes locals as well as others who return each year to participate.

Skål!

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ELVERHØJ MUSEUM of History and Art

1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463
805-686-1211
www.elverhoj.org

 

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