Another sign that spring has sprung in Copenhagen is the bloom of cherry blossoms in Bispebjerg Cemetery each year! Thousands of locals and tourists flock to this cemetery to see the beautiful pink blooms and stroll through the gardens within the cemetery.
But wait a second..people casually stroll through a cemetery to see flowers? Yes! In Copenhagen, its not unusual for cemeteries to be treated as parks where people can walk, read, or look at the flowers. Unlike cemeteries that I have been in in the United States, cemeteries here are used as both a place to remember those who have passed and celebrate life in the moment.
Early in my semester here, my SRA from my kollegium and I walked through the cemetery where H.C. Anderson is buried and talked as we saw women strolling with there babies and people reading under giant trees. At first I found this unusual because I’m used to cemeteries that are silent places of remembrance where people rarely go on a normal basis. But to see Danes casually wandering in a cemetery and enjoying the beauty within was very comforting and actually felt more natural than US cemeteries.
Most cemeteries in Copenhagen that I’ve been to usually have beautiful gardens, sculptures, and walkways, so for them to be used as a type of park makes sense. It also makes the cemeteries seem less grim when people are smiling and talking rather than only seeing people grieve. It brings a celebration of life to a place where people tend to only reflect on death.
At the Bispebjerg Cemetery it was amazing to see so many cherry blossoms in bloom and see people enjoying the beauty of them. My friend Mara and I even got to ride in a golf cart from a friendly gardener when he told us we were on the wrong side of the cemetery to see the blossoms! Walking around the cemetery there were also sculpted trees and grave sites that depicted each of the inhabitants in a personal way which was nicer to see than a bunch of plain, white headstones.
Ultimately, seeing the cherry blossoms in a cemetery is a way to reflect and celebrate the beauty of life and remember those who have already died in a less somber manner. And since I’ve never gotten to see the cherry blossoms bloom in Washington, D.C. it was great to see them in Denmark when Denmark and Japan are celebrating 150 years of diplomatic relations this year!