This time of year brings a large number of visitors to our island, including many Danes, in part because of our prevailing pleasant climate at a time when winter storms make life miserable in northern regions. By coincidence, it is also a time when some of the year's most enjoyable public activities take place, such as can be seen in our events calendar, brimming over with a great variety of activities, from agricultural fair to art show or regatta, to just name a few.
But the month of March has special meaning to anyone with a Danish connection. That is the time when Denmark-Virgin Islands Friendship month is celebrated. In recognition hereof, you will see all month the Danish flag, the Dannebrog, flying alongside the Stars and Stripes and the Virgin Islands flag at our handsome old Government House in Christiansted. This is a unique compliment to a former colonial power, as is the fact that even in the Virgin Islands Official Seal you will find a small Dannebrog flag depicted.
This friendship is also reflected in the existence of a community non-profit organization, the St. Croix Friends of Denmark, with a membership of over 100, whose aim is the furthering of friendly relations with Denmark through cultural exchanges and reciprocal visits with their sister society in Denmark, the Danish West Indian Society. The latter was formed by individuals with ties to the islands, often through previous generation members having been stationed here as officials, soldiers or gendarmes. In recent years, St. Croix Friends of Denmark holds an enjoyable Danish West Indian Night in Frederiksted open to the public on the first Saturday of March, celebrating and offering samples of the inherited cuisine from Danish times.
When Denmark sold the Danish West Indies - St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix - to the United States in 1917, the transfer was an emotional event for many local citizens. Many changes were in store for all the islands. The event took place on March 31, which still is a local holiday celebrated annually as Danish Heritage Day with a gathering open to the public at no cost at the scenic Carl & Marie Lawaetz Family Museum north of Frederiksted. Many visiting Danes find this event a moving experience, as do the several hundred other individuals attending. Local schoolchildren participate in song and dancing, and often, prominent individuals articulate on the many bonds between the islands and their former mother country.