Friday was Graduation Day for students all across Sweden. So, people were already pumped. Graduation from gymnasiet (the rough equivalent to high school) is a huge deal here, much bigger than anything in the U.S. It starts a week or two earlier with the Swedish version of the Senior Prom, which I blogged about last year. I also blogged about this event, called “studenten” last year but it rained and even so it was a joyous affair. Friday, however, Halmstad made Disneyland look like North Korea by comparison. These folks were really flipped out. The previous day was Sweden’s national day, so everyone had the day off and could chill before studenten. The fact that the gorgeous weather continued (70 F. and sunny for most of the past month, unheard of according to one neighbor I asked) brought the happiness level up a notch.
The graduates have ceremonies at their schools and the family attends, and most make posters of the graduate showing baby pictures, a few examples of which are below. After the graduation ceremony, the kids pile into trucks or trailers pulled by tractors and roam through the streets in the center of town making as much noise as possible with whistles, horns, screams and shouts. They organize into vehicles by class or subject of study.
Many of the kids are drinking and carrying on and blowing off steam after their final exams With the chaos that kids flipping out riding through town on truck beds and drinking creates requires a police presence and here it is:
One cop on a Suzuki. To be fair, I did see one other motorcycle cop and one police car. No cops on the street directing traffic, no police barriers, no riot squads waiting for something to happen.
Translation: Thanks Wikipedia, coffee and alcohol. Without you we wouldn’t have done shit.
In the but square in town, things were a little less raucous but just as happy.
After an hour or so terrorizing the city streets, everybody unloads and makes their way to a nearby park and the festivities continue.
Family and friends hang trinkets or flowers around the graduates’ necks.
There are no activities planned for the park. The graduates just hang around with their friends and family and the entire place is super happy.
After watching for awhile, I left to get a sandwich and then went to the Apple store to check out the new iPad. When I returned around 40 minutes later, the park was deserted and the party had moved somewhere else. All that remained was the flowers.
That was okay because right across from the park is the gallery where I had my show that closed last week. A new show opened on Friday and I went to the opening. This time it is ceramic sculptures not paintings but the humor was evident. The artist got a really nice big write up in the paper.
Last month he snuck this sculpture on top of a tree stump in the park which created a stir and now the city is planning to buy it.
He has done some humorously inspired works for the show which fits Peter Wahlbeck’s agenda for the art community here in Halmstad: inject some humor into the art scene here.
Man, this was a happy day. Tons of stuff going on, fantastic weather and a resident of Halmstad could not ask for anything else.