Every summer from June onwards, young people wearing white and black caps are seen all around Denmark. These are students who have completed their secondary education and have bought a cap as proof of passing their exams – the so-called student cap.
The student cap was introduced in Denmark in 1850 and at that time it was black. Today, the black cap is not so common, and has largely been replaced by a white cap with a burgundy band. This cap is for students who have passed the most common secondary exam (studentereksamen). Students at other secondary schools wear other caps, and in total there are more than ten types of student caps.
The most common student cap today is white with the cross of Dannebrog as a badge.
A classic Danish student cap
Various traditions attached to the student cap
The student cap is a very much a tradition in Denmark, and there is a long list of special traditions attached to the cap:
- It is bad luck to wear the cap before you have passed your final exam
- You write your last grade inside the cap
- Classmates and friends write messages in the cap
- Tooth marks on the shade of the cap mean good luck
- The students with the biggest and smallest cap in a class have to buy a round of beer for their classmates
- You get a notch in the shade if you throw up because you have drunk too much
- If you jump in the harbour wearing only the cap you get a drawing of a wave in your cap
- Drinking a case of beer in less than 24 hours allows you to wear a beer capsule as a tassel for the cap.
Danish students sailing near a bon fire on St Johns Eve on June 23. Photo: Kim Hansen