Why all those caps?

June 27th, 2013

This article is more than 10 years old.

Get your students straight with our overview of what the various ‘studenterhue’ caps symbolise, and what all that infernal honking is going to be about tomorrow

Why are there suddenly hoardes of white-capped teens running around the city? 

They are students who've just completed their leaving exams.

Here's our lowdown on what the colours of the bands signify and what some of the other traditions surrounding the annual rite of passage are.

Colour-me graduated

Graduating students wear caps with a coloured band signifying the type of programme they completed. Here is a list of the most common colours:

Bordeaux red – for students passing the Studentereksamen, a university preparatory programme (three-year)
Light blue – two-year higher preparatory (two-year)
Royal blue – higher commercial (three-year)
Purple – basic vocational (two-year)
Navy blue – higher technical (three-year)
Flags – internationally orientated commercial (three-year)
Black cap – the ‘original’ Scandinavian cap for secondary-school graduates. Now the cap of choice for gymnasium students studying Latin or Greek

Cap insignia also vary depending on the programme. Students not wishing to bear a cap with the Cross of the Dannebrog can choose a crescent moon, a Star of David or a non-denominational maple leaf.

Hats off to you

When gymnasium students graduate, they each wear a cap with different badges and hatbands, depending on the type of study they completed. The caps carry a strict set of rules for students on graduation day:
Classmates sign the inside of the cap
Grade from the final exam is written inside the cap
Secret love notes go underneath the sweatband
Cut a square in the sweatband if you drink a crate of beer in 24 hours
Cut a triangle in the sweatband if you see the sun come up
Cut waves in the sweatband if you skinny-dip with the cap on
Best friend must bite the brim of the cap
Cut the brim off if you get so drunk that you need your stomach pumped
Reattach the brim if you score the nurse

Back on the wagon

On graduation day, each class of gymnasium students will don their caps and career around on the back of a truck.

The joy ride begins in the morning and the truck travels around to each of the students’ homes, where the graduates have a drink, and sometimes eat snacks, before moving on to the next house.

Some of the trucks will be decorated with signs. For example: “honk once for a little drink, twice to down a drink, three times for a flash.”

Some students scrawl a tally of how many beers they have drunk on their arm.

Traditionally, if the celebration is in Copenhagen, students might finish dancing around the statue of King Christian V on Kongens Nytorv, but that area is a metro construction site at the moment.



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