Aabenraa’s name comes from aaben strand, or Danish for “open beach.” Denmark had long used “aa” to represent a Danish vowel sound that’s elusive for English speakers, but is kind of similar to the vowel in our word “caught.” But in 1948, the country decided to reform its spelling, replacing “aa” with “å”. That’s how this vowel is written in every other Scandinavian language. As a result, the Danish Language Board recommended that Aabenraa rename itself “Åbenrå.”
In 1955, Denmark decided that their new letter “Å” would be the last letter of the alphabet, coming after “Z” in the dictionary. Aabenraa, which was accustomed to being the world’s very first town alphabetically, was unenthusiastic about moving to the very bottom of the list overnight. Read this fun and informative article at Condé Nast Traveler to find out more!