The Gate of Honour

The Danes love to celebrate. And they love the many traditions that come with each individual celebration.

The Gate of Honour recently created for your blogger’s parents.

One tradition is that of the ”Æresport” or the ”Gate of Honour”. This honours the guests of honour at weddings and Silver and Golden anniversaries.

The “Gate of Honour” has the shape of a door or gateway and is placed over the front door or entrance to the house. It is decorated with pine or spruce branches, flowers and Danish flags.

At the top of this festive construction is a wooden sign in the shape of a heart or a shield. It carries the initials of the couple being celebrated.

History unknown

How far back this celebratory gate has been used is uncertain. But we know that they were raised by the people of Copenhagen in celebration of two royal weddings as far back as 1749 and 1790.

It is certain, however, that the tradition is old indeed with ties to rural communities. Here, flowers were more abundant than funds for more expensive finery.

The Golden Anniversary couple under their Gate of Honour

Standing the test of time

Now as then, friends and family gather on the evening before the day of celebration.

These gatherings are often quite festive in and of themselves and culminate with the placing of the Æresport. This takes place under much sh’ing and half-hearted attempts at stealth. This is by default hard as the Æresport is attached by hammering nails into the door frame.

Secrecy – or the feigning of – is as important a part of the Æresport-tradition as the Æresport itself. More often than not, however, everyone knows quite well, what is going on.

Song and music in the morning

On the morning of a Silver or Golden anniversaries, friends, family and neighbours join in to sing the guests of honour out of their home and into the (hopefully) sunshine. Here they are met by singing and music, a glass of champagne or a Danish morning bitter.

Part of the tradition is that the guests of honour remember to act surprised at the whole to-do. They also “just by chance” have prepared breakfast and coffee for however many well-wishers have arrived. And so the merriment continues throughout the day.

The Gate of Honour stands as long as the greenery and flowers can manage. Thus all who come and go, know that a celebration has been held.