Christiania: 40, fresh and free

September 26th, 2011

This article is more than 12 years old.

As Christiania turns 40, residents and guests at the kickoff party find reason to celebrate

Though Christiania may now be over the hill, the freetown was decorated with t-shirts and posters sporting the motto Â’40, fresh and freeÂ’ Monday morning in celebration of its 40th birthday. According to residents and guests, the birthday celebration marks not only another year but also a new era for Christiania.

Amidst Christiania’s signature red and yellow banners, guests were welcomed with breakfast, cake and plenty of free music as the Stig Møller Trio entertained enthusiastic guests over breakfast to kickoff the week-long party.

Despite uncertainly still looming over the future of Christiania after an agreement with the state that requires residents to come up with 76.2 million kroner to purchase the land, Monday morning brought reasons for guests to celebrate.

Peter Plett, a Christiania resident of 38 years, said the milestone comes at an interesting time.

“The birthday means a lot,” Plett told The Copenhagen Post. “It has been a struggle to keep Christiania going because we have lots of enemies who want to close it down, but we are glad to be here where we are now.”

For some, the birthday is a time to reflect upon 40 years of a judgement-free culture within the city. Guests Zack and Janni, who travelled from southern Zealand to partake in the festivities, said that they arrived early to spend the day listening to music and relaxing. And, according to Zack, the spirit of Christiania runs through his blood.

“My mother lived here when she was pregnant with me and now I like to come back and visit at least once a month,” he said.

Throughout the last 40 years, Christiania has undergone many political upheavals. But the heart of the place is still the same according to Zack.

“ItÂ’s a free haven for smoking and living.  You have the breathing space to be who you want to be,” he said.

His partner Janni agreed with these sentiments and said she likes to visit Christiania to have the freedom to express herself that she never had growing up.

In the true Christiania spirit, the party goes on despite the ongoing political debates. Inspired by Copenhagen’s 800th birthday where guests could grab a slice of cake from any of the hundreds of coffee tables lining the whole of Strøget, on Monday, cake was served to nearly 400 people in the chaotic centre of Christiania amidst birthday speeches toasting the neighbourhood’s past and continued existence.

A new graffiti exhibition is being shown to mark the big day as well. The old hippie-spiritual mural, which was taken down some years ago, has also begun to be repainted.  Like some people might consider botox on their 40th birthday, Christiania is getting a well-deserved updated look.

Kristoffer, who has been a resident for a year, said Christiania has undergone several significant changes over the years, but the grassroots of the place remain the same.

“It’s still a public space widely used and unlike other places, it’s unique in that people can just walk through,” Kristoffer said. He said he looked forward to what the future holds for Christiania but hoped it would not be spoiled by the recent changes in property ownership.

Along the same lines, Plett hoped that residents would embrace the new situation and work with it and that “the community won’t stagnate,” and Christiania would continue to be an evolving space.

One proud guest who travelled all the way from Stockholm and planned to purchase one of the newly announced ‘Christiania Shares’, said he was “so proud to be able to buy my own little piece of freedom here.”


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