Okay, so you’ve arrived in Denmark, be it for study, work or mere fascination with Danish tv drama. Though you’ve most likely – as it is for 99% of us – been lured to the Kingdom by a dashing or delectable Dane. You’re excited for the first couple of weeks but then you discover that integrating with those crazy Danes isn’t as easy as you thought. Hmm, what to do?
Become more Danish than the Danes! As Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (the former Minister for Foreign Affairs) so famously said in 1992 – when Denmark had just voted ‘No’ to the Maastricht Treaty and won the European Championship in football – “If you can’t join them, beat them!”
Just concentrate on using the ‘H’ words. HEJ, HILS and HYGGELIG. You can work them into any conversation. Use them liberally and don’t forget to gush.
- “Hej!” means “Hi”. Or “Hej, hej!” which is “See you later!”
- “Hvor er det hyggeligt!” “Isn’t this cosy/we’re having such a good time!”
- “Hils!” or “Hils din mor/din kæreste/derhjemme!” which means, “Tell your Mum/your other half/everyone at home that I was asking for them!”
And when all attempts at conversation fail, just massage the Danish male ego and mention Euro 92 (see above).
Eat a huge plate of havregryn (raw, rolled oats) with sugar and milk for breakfast. (Generations of Danes can’t be wrong – hey, even Michael Laudrup swears by it, see below.) Rugbrød med leverpostej (ryebread with liverpâté) for lunch. And frikadeller (meatballs) for dinner. Mmm, ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’… If you need a sweet treat, try Flødeboller (like a Scottish Tunnock’s teacake) or skumbananer (banana flavoured marshmallow covered in chocolate). And, for the very brave, lashings of [yuck] Danish lakrids (liquorice).
The Danish weather can be frightful or fantastic – and usually everything inbetween. Be prepared for all seasons in one day. All before lunchtime. As the Danes say, there’s no such thing as bad weather…just the wrong clothing. So embrace it, wear layers and invest in some waterproofs and wellie boots. Or discover your inner Viking, strip off completely and become a winterbather!
|Yep, that’s me on 9 January 2012 = water temperature 1c/34f|
A DANE OF TWO-HALVES
Be traditional! As I’ve said time and time again, the Danes may be ultra liberal but they’re painfully traditional. Every season, every feast, every holiday, every celebration from cradle to grave has a Danish tradition attached…
|Paper woven hearts made by my DDDFIL(dearly-departed-Danish-father-in-law)|
Secret snowdrop letters, sangskjuler (song holders), walk around the Citadel, hit barrels, weave hearts, put candles in the window, wear Blue Monday clothes, guzzle goose, listen to bonfire speeches, win a marcipan pig, feast on fjord prawns. The list goes on… With the Danish flag – Dannebrog – flying majestically in the background. And – selvfølgelig – your shoes left at the doorstep.
Yes, those crazy Danes are a constant inspiration. If you need concrete ideas, tips or some homework, may I suggest you go and read my previous blogposts? I’ve written so many blog posts about them, even I can’t remember it all.
And what will I be doing? Well, the Danish school holidays are rapidly approaching, so I’m tidying my blog desk and am ready to enjoy a long summer blog break. Like most families around these parts, we usually head south to Italy, France or Spain. But this year we’ve taken the plunge. We’ve joined 11,000 other Danish families and bought a summer house in Sweden. (Yes, yes, that means crossing The Bridge/Broen/Bron!) So I’m preparing myself for life with… those silly Swedes!
Have a wonderful summer! Gud Bevare Danmark!