Copenhagen’s Assistons Cemetery: not just a place of mourning, but also a place to celebrate life

By Anna Tereza Kristóf

Many cultures view the graveyard sites as sacred places where one can find solace, reconnect with their loved ones, grieve. The Danes bring a unique approach to that, though. Even in rough weather, the Assistons Cemetery is crowded with people celebrating life.

Assistons Cemetery on a snowy day, photo: Anna Tereza Kristóf

On Wednesday, March 8th, Copenhagen was hit with a snowstorm. The skies were grey, wind was strong, and the whole city fell under a thick blanket of snow. The next day, just as soon as the sun started peeking through those clouds, Assistons Kirkegård, a cemetery in Nørrebro, is already full with strollers, dogs, and families with children. 

This is not unusual for Denmark. The culture of death and the afterlife is approached quite differently compared to many Eastern European countries.  But in combination with the beautifully kept flora, and the minds of Denmark’s greats, like Hans Christian Andersen or Søren Kierkegaard, laying under these grounds for the rest of their eternity, it is no wonder Assistons Cemetery has become a popular place to wander in one’s free time.

With 25 hectares of greenery not so common for the industrialised Nørrebro, Assistons became a cemetery-turned-park, where people come for a run, to have a picnic or sunbathe in the summer, or sledge and build snowmen in the winter.