The Little Mermaid’s 97th birthday, as well as the statue’s first birthday abroad, was marked on Saturday with the start of a three-day celebration.
Sculptor Edvard Eriksen’s statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Little Mermaid was first unveiled on Aug 23, 1913, when it was placed beside Copenhagen harbor in Langelinie.
A Danish national symbol, The Little Mermaid was on display there until it was moved to the Denmark Pavilion in May for Shanghai Expo 2010, where it will remain for the duration of the event.
To celebrate the festive occasion, a series of commemorative activities were held over the weekend.
“We will give The Little Mermaid a big party on her first birthday away from home. This is a great opportunity to celebrate The Little Mermaid’s presence in China and give our visitors the chance to have fun experiencing some of the best of Danish culture,” Christopher Bo Bramsen, Commissioner General of the Denmark Pavilion, said as the celebrations began on Saturday.
The Tivoli Boys Guard, a group of boys aged 9 to 16, marched through the pavilion dressed in red coats, white trousers and bear skins hats while playing flutes and drums for visitors.
Theatre Madam Bach, led by Pernille Bach and Christian Schroder, presented a play for children called The Four Seasons, which took the audience through the four Danish seasons.
As paper cutting was a favorite hobby of the children’s author who created The Little Mermaid, there was also a paper-cutting workshop jointly taught by Lu Xue, from China, and Soren Thaae, from Denmark.
Among the other activities, there was a reading of fairytales written by the author and a mermaid stone where visitors could pose for photos in which they look like the fabled sea creature.
The festivities will culminate with a great splash on The Little Mermaid’s actual birthday on Monday, when a round of happy birthday is sung to the statue, followed by a water show.
“It is a Danish tradition to celebrate The Little Mermaid’s birthday with girls of all ages jumping into the water by her spot in Copenhagen harbor,” said Bramsen.
Three female Danish synchronized swimmers, headed by Mette Markussen, and male dancer/choreographer Tore Munch will present a performance about mermaids, love and fairytales in the harbor pool at the centre of the pavilion.
The show deals with the classic theme of a love divided by two different worlds – the kind of love that the Little Mermaid suffers in the fairytale.
A specially designed Mermaid Stamp will also be launched on Monday only for visitors to have placed in their Expo passports.
Zhang Keying, a 4-year-old Chinese girl who shares the same birthday as The Little Mermaid, will present the statue with a flower and be the first guest to receive the Mermaid Stamp on her special day.