Janteloven

 

Although many people will probably live in Denmark without knowing what this is, when one starts going a bit deeper into Danish culture, the Law of Jante (Janteloven in Danish) will most likely pop up at some point.

Although the law exists since the beginning of civilization, it was only officially declared in 1933 by writer Aksel Sandemose in the novel “A refugee goes beyond limits”,  in which the fictitious Danish town of Jante lives by its own ten commandments. Jante’s law is defined by Sandemose: “This is Jante: each little soul’s struggle for coequality and recognition, never without consciousness that all the others are greater than he.”

It’s one of the many non-written laws in Denmark, which operates in a subconscious level. Those foreigners who want to integrate properly should know it (and probably follow it to a certain degree?)

According to Wikipedia, there are ten different rules in the law as defined by Sandemose, all expressive of variations on a single theme and are usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: Don’t think you’re anyone special or that you’re better than us.

The ten rules state:

  1. Don’t think you’re anything special.
  2. Don’t think you’re as good as us.
  3. Don’t think you’re smarter than us.
  4. Don’t convince yourself that you’re better than us.
  5. Don’t think you know more than us.
  6. Don’t think you are more important than us.
  7. Don’t think you are good at anything.
  8. Don’t laugh at us.
  9. Don’t think anyone cares about you.
  10. Don’t think you can teach us anything.

In conclusion, it’s all about being humble and not bragging of ones success/skills. As I see it, it tries to take importance off the individual and give it to the society as a whole. Maybe that results in the egalitarian/homogeneous society that we know?

According to my skat, it is not something that they’re told but more the general mentality of Danish people, that dislikes anyone that stands out.

Well, I am sorry but I don’t like it. Of course I don’t like the opposite mentality either, that is mothers who tell their children they are the best in the world, better than anyone else. That happens a lot in Spain (I guess it happens in a lot of countries) and it results in a bunch of spoiled-narcicistic-selfcentered jer… erm.. people.

My kids (future kids, as in the ones I’ll maybe have in some years from now) are gonna be told what my mum told me: “You are different, because we are all different. You’ll be good at some things, and bad at others. You’ll be better than some people at some things, and you’ll be much worse at others. And that’s okay, and that doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone, just different”.

Diversity is necessary. Diversity leads to evolution. Diversity brings enrichment. Of course it’s not nice when someone comes to us thinking that he’s better (as  a whole) than anyone else (personally I’d punch these people on the face), but how good is it having people who think they’re worth nothing?

Balance, friends, balance is always the key.

 

**** Edit: I find myself in the need to add a note to this post. I just came home from an outstanding lecture on Danish working culture (I’ll try and write a post asap, although nothing I say will do it justice) and there was a brief talk about this Janteloven. They mentioned that this law is the way Danes use to explain some traits of their behaviour that they can’t really explain in any other way. Aparently, it’s something in the lines that differences among people create conflicts and Danes are not very able to deal with conflictive situations. So, if people are all the same, there’s less problems and moreover, there’s more trust (it’s easier to trust someone who is similar to you, not only ethnically but socio-economically speaking). Quite an old concept and easily missinterpreted, but it’s still present in their personality. 

By Natalia • May 18, 2012
Categories: , , , ,


62 Comments

61 Comments

  1. Posted May 19, 2012 at 17:24 by Aleksandra Goinska | Permalink

    Hello Natalia!

    Great to read about that, I actually have little book about this and I was thinking to write about that as well, but you explained everything really well here! :)

    Best regards,
    Aleksandra

  2. Posted May 19, 2012 at 17:27 by Natalia | Permalink

    Oh, you have a little book about it? Did I miss anything? I merely did some research on the internet :P

    Thanks for the comment, and I’d love to hear your opinion about it! Do you think it’s a real thing that is present in the society? Do you agree with that view? :)

    Kind regards,
    Natalia

  3. Posted May 20, 2012 at 18:11 by ib51 | Permalink

    This Jante law seems to be aimed again one of the Cardinal Sins: haughtiness which can lead, for Christian, to several other sins. Instead, for some other people, pride can be seen as a positive quality which can permit mankind’s progress (spiritual and material). On this matter, the view of P. Coelho could be interesting ( http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/02/03/the-law-of-jante-3/ ), even though I believe he has not understood at all the scandinavian way of thinking. I’ve also read a good article (unfortunately in French) which study Carl Nielsen’s life in the light to Jante Law. The great Dansk komponist’s life seems to have been marked by modesty and discretion but it was not in contradiction with his artistic ambition. I believe I’ve read something about Niels Bohr’s behaviour. Interesting!
    I’ve not read A. Sandemose’s book (there is no transition into French) but it seems to be satire of the Danish society (especially one of a little Danish town located in Nordjylland), at the beginning of the last century, thus the trait is, perhaps, exaggerated. The argument makes me thinking to K. Blixen’s book (an, overall, very good and trusty film) : Babette’s feast … I hope you have seen or read it.
    It’s not easy to say if Jante Law fit all Danes because each Dane is an original individual but really, it seems to reflect the Danish way of life. By the way, if altogether, these ten items fit me, the second (Don’t think you’re as good as us) and the last one (Don’t think you can teach us anything) hurt me. The second is in opposition with egalitarian principle and, about the last one, I think we have always something to learn from other people.
    Have a good day (and unskyld for the long speech :-) )
    Bruno.

  4. Posted May 20, 2012 at 19:15 by Natalia | Permalink

    Oh, Bruno! I love your long speeches! :)
    Well, I think arrongance and excessive pride are to be avoided, of course. But there’s a whole greyscale between one extreme and the other. I think Jante’s Law is maybe more about preserving the harmony between the people and avoiding jealousy (that would perturbate the peace in their community).
    I like Coelho’s text, when it says “You are worth far more than you think. Your work and presence on this Earth are important, even though you may not think so.”
    It’s a reality that some people are better at some things than others, and I think it’s important that people believe that they are all valuable, in a way.
    I haven’t heard of Babette’s feast at all, but I’ll definetely check it (the movie, probably :P )
    Thank you again for participating!

  5. Posted May 21, 2012 at 05:34 by ib51 | Permalink

    Yes, watch the movie. In Blixen’s book the story took place in Norway in the 19th century but it as been moved by G. Axel to Denmark on the North-Western coast of Jylland, a very poor and religious area. Except the location, the film is a very accurate image of the book. I love K. Blixen but her style could be a little bit too obsolete (except for Out of Africa which has led to the well-known film with the smuk R. Retford).
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  6. Posted May 21, 2012 at 18:58 by Natalia | Permalink

    Sounds somehow educational!
    I’ll see if I can find it :)

  7. Posted May 22, 2012 at 12:03 by Aleksandra Goinska | Permalink

    Natalia, I think its a very common thing in danish society, I even met with that today in the school and now I really feel like writing a blog post about that!
    I want to let danes know that I have my own jante law :D

    Bruno and Natalia – 2 interesting people I met in blogs.denmark.dk, I would love to meet you guys in a real life.

    BR Aleks

  8. Posted May 22, 2012 at 13:46 by Natalia | Permalink

    Please write a post about it! I’d love to hear your point of view! And who knows, maybe I got it all wrong :P

    I think it’s a great idea to meet, if possible!

  9. Posted May 22, 2012 at 14:43 by cathrine | Permalink

    Hey!!

    I’m a Dane living in the usa with my American family.

    First of; great post, easily understood – I always find it difficult to explain to my friends and family here.

    The law of Jante is still ever present in our mentality. I feel it every day, and I’m confronted with it every day. I’m a pro soccer player and have a great family and my future couldn’t look any better, yet I still find myself being the shy quiet person and my friends always wonder why.
    I can always feel how I always end up in the back of lines because I don’t push myself in front of people like the Americans do – chasing their American dream (way different mentality) they want to make everything for themselves where I just want to do good, have a job I Love and fits my quiet needs so I can enjoy time with my family – my american friends find this to be crazy because I often turn down better contracts for no other reason than it’s not what I’m looking for I don’t need more than I have. So yes always ever present in our mentality and nothing can change that because it’s so deep in our personality.

  10. Posted May 22, 2012 at 18:17 by Natalia | Permalink

    I actually just came home from a super interesting lecture and was about to edit the post on Janteloven. I’ve been told, that this law is the way Danes use to explain some traits of their behaviour that they can’t really explain in any other way. Aparently, it’s something in the lines that differences among people create conflicts and Danes are not very able to deal with conflictive situations. So, if people are all the same, there’s less problems and moreover, there’s more trust (it’s easier to trust someone who is similar to you, not only ethnically but socio-economically speaking).

    I have to admit I like the Danish way of being happy with a job they’re interested in, and not being motivated by bonuses or other stuff like that. :)

    I really appreciate the imput, Cathrine! Thanks a lot!

    PS: Is there any other big challenge (personality-wise speaking) that you’ve encountered when dealing with Americans?

  11. Posted May 22, 2012 at 20:51 by ib51 | Permalink

    @ Catherine og Nathalia
    It’s the first time I talk to a pro soccer player … great experience :-)
    Yes American way of life (or thinking) seems to be at the opposite of Danish way of life. It’s my impression, although I’ve never been to America and I know this country only through books (instead, I went and continue to come, several time a year, to Danemark :-) ). Global mentality in America seems looking rather close to Coehlo’s thesis than Jante’s thesis. It could explain the negative tune of a lot of American expats we can meet on CHP Post.
    Dane, also, believe that they have to do what they want to do by themselves but it seems to be done in the frame of an organized society thus, in a less individual way. As individual, we have to decide alone, by ourself, but in the goal of improving the whole society’s welfare.
    It’s strange because American and Danish people have the same Protestant background (though the Catholic community is more present in the States than hjem). The history of the two countries is different. It’s not so long that American people had to fight against an inhospitable nature to cope and thus to prove that they were the best and the winner. By the way, ties with nature seems to be close between Scandinavian and North-American people, especially when you read author from the North of the States (Montana or somewhere else).
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  12. Posted May 23, 2012 at 10:31 by Natalia | Permalink

    To V (from Vibes of Val): Great writing, very worth reading post (and not because I’m mentioned, but because it really is!)
    Thanks for your vibes! :D
    To the rest: People, check the blog on my “trackback” thingie! :P

  13. Posted May 24, 2012 at 05:54 by ib51 | Permalink

    Look at this article and especially the expat’s comments: http://www.cphpost.dk//news/national/dsb-beggars-can%25E2%2580%2599t-be-choosers .
    It’s not directly tied to Jante law but it could illustrate the different view along the two sides of Atlantic ocean. Hjem, “beggars can’t be chooser”, over there, “why have I to paid more for people who, in a kind of way, are responsible of what they are?”
    I don’t know if the sms-solution is a good one (I don’t think so) but it underline the pragmatic attitude of Dane society. On one hand, as beggary is a reality, one have to help, somehow or other, those who fell. On the other way, as beggars could bother commuters when stretched out hand (it looks in mess), we have to find a solution to avoid this degrading (for them) and annoying (for us) gesture … but if one deeply think to that, it could be considered as an ambivalent (and a little bit hypocrite) way of thinking :-(
    Don’t pay to much attention to what I say … it’s just some unimportant thoughts :-)
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  14. Posted May 24, 2012 at 19:08 by Natalia | Permalink

    There’s no such thing as unimportant thoughts, Bruno! Much less yours! :)
    I didn’t think beggars were much of a problem here in Denmark (compared to a place like Barcelona, for example), but of course it might be that there’s many more in Copenhaguen.
    I find that the SMS proposal only serves DSB, and not the beggars. I don’t know the kind of platform they would use to ensure that a particular beggar receives the amount of money given. Plus, if they get some coins they can go to the store right away and buy whatever, whereas through SMS… I don’t know, I would need details on how that would work :P
    On the other hand, I don’t understand how these people fall out of the system… I mean, I thought that in Denmark the Government protected the people who were going through a hard time.
    I am sure there’s also some people (they do mention a second “more professional” group in the article) who begs because they don’t want to do anything else with their lifes. Who knows…

  15. Posted May 24, 2012 at 20:24 by ib51 | Permalink

    Don’t misunderstand, a lot of beggars have bank account and mobile-phone to receive money-help and keep contact with social services (it’s usual in France and I think it’s the same in Denmark) thus they can profit from transfers from your account to their account just by an sms transaction (for example, it works to pay some little amount like parking place … I don’t know how it works but it works in some town).
    It’s very easy to fall into homeless status then beggary. You leave your native country because poverty or death threat (every immigrant don’t leave there home by their own will; see this video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZxgXTJdTxI – I hope it works in Denmark), you arrive at an unknown country with just a little bag in your hand, without any papers thus what can you do except become a beggar? On the other hand, you are a well off Dane, your wife or your man leave you with your best friend, you fall in depression, maybe in alcohol addiction, your business goes bankrupt, you have left your family relationships, all your friends were only work-friend thus you end up without money and roof and could leave the normal society and fall into beggary … and it’s not easy to come out from desocialization. I knowI exaggerate the tale but it’s to say that if it’s not so easy to take the plunge, it’s possible for all of us.
    On an other subject do you remember what we talked about ties between church and State? Have you seen what happens in Norway? It’ll end up like that in Denmark.
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  16. Posted May 25, 2012 at 14:15 by Natalia | Permalink

    I understand how foreigners can end up begging, but Danes? Even if your business go bankrupt, don’t you get unemployment benefits? And there’s social workers who can help with other problems too! I know it’s hard to come out of these kinds of situations, but I think in Denmark should be much easier than in many other places… though, I might be wrong, of course.
    I just read about Norway! I think it’s a good idea, to be honest… but then, what’s gonna happen with people who wants to get married in a church and all? Will there be fees, you think?

  17. Posted May 25, 2012 at 20:01 by ib51 | Permalink

    Of course, it would be lees easy to fall down in Denmark than in France or Spain because state’s helps are wider hjem.
    But money is not, sometime, sufficient and, often, caseworkers are too busy and can’t, everytime, look at all situations (see the recent cases of child abuses which were known but were not stopped because administration’s heaviness or just because families move from a district to an other).
    I think that the main cause of this fall is due to the fact that, often, some people give up because depressive mind (following material, existential or sentimental troubles or something else) and, then, have no longer enough strength to fight and keep head out of water. It’s not easy for someone who has not met, personally or professionally this king of situation to understand it. Moreover, the problem of addiction (alcohol or more sharp drugs) is something which make the problem worse. And, when you have lost all the ties with society (work, feeling of being useful to the society, friends, self-esteem), it hard to come back into the normality. And, except for vagabonds who have chose their status (as those described by K. Hamsun), I believe these vagrants are not happy. About junkies, have you read the CPH Post’s article http://www.cphpost.dk/news/national/three-days-junkies-part-i-life-hell?
    I believe also that there is, currently, a move of the society facing this problem. Twenty or thirty years ago, it was unthinkable to see homelessness in Danish streets. For sure, vagabond has always existed in Denmark but the society did not accept them openly and publicly and they were forced to go in homeless shelters. Now, I’ve the feeling that, even if the Danish society don’t like it, it began to be used to that picture … but it’s just my own feeling.

    About church split, I don’t know what will happen. I think that people who want to be married or buried at church will have to pay by their own. Or the Church will continue to be subsidized as in Alsace where the ministers of four main churches (Catholic, Lutheran, Reformatted and Jew) are paid by the state.
    Igen alt for længe! :-(
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  18. Posted May 30, 2012 at 16:52 by ib51 | Permalink

    Twenty minutes ago, I saw, for the first time, an homeless in a Koliding’s street. I don’t know if she was a beggar because she didn’t ask anything. She was, doubtless, an homeless, wrapped in a blue tarp, a lot of plastic bags at her feet, sat on a bench with a young but tired appearance and eating something in a cardboard pot. She looked Scandinavian (Dane?) with her blond hairs (maybe Estonian?) and I suddenly thought to your question “how some people can, in Denmark, fall in that kind of situation” … I’ve not the answer, yet.
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  19. Posted June 3, 2012 at 08:46 by Natalia | Permalink

    It is sad. Depression, addictions and loneliness put together can easily drive a person into a homeless state where they end up begging.

    About the article you shared, I had no idea there was a park in Aarhus where drug addicts can freely shoot up. I need to find where that place is and avoid it ^^’
    Also, I am no expert, but I don’t think giving free drugs to a heroin addict twice a day will help his situation. Wouldn’t it be better for him to be in a center taken care of, and maybe that way he could get out of it? I don’t know… very delicate situations :(

    In Barcelona the situation is much worse. There are lots of beggars, in every corner. On the street, in the metro… A lot of them are from mafias (specially Romanian) but everyday there are more regular Spanish people finding themselves in a situation in which they need to beg to be able to buy food. It’s horrible :(

  20. Posted June 5, 2012 at 01:34 by ib51 | Permalink

    The principe of giving free drugs to some junkies is that some of them are too addict to be saved and have no hope to stop.
    Giving them free drugs and safety material injection aim at avoid them to contract AIDS or hepatic illness and the temptation to find their drug by criminal ways (becoming dealers or robbers).
    It’s also, in a kid of way, to avoid for them the the hell of wondering everyday their needed dose (it could be seen as a realistic and humanist solution … the other solution is to kill them … but who are we to decide to kill someone because he took the wrong path? ).
    It’s difficult to understand for a “normal” person (a person who have not experimented hard drugs, who have never truly took care or truly met these adrift people) but you have to know that, for a deep junky, the only one thing he think about on the morning when putting his feet out of the bed, is how and when he can find his drug. It’s not a question of pleasure but a question of survival. Those are more to be feel sorry for than to be condemned … a kind of compassion. When you can’t save someone you have to, at least, alleviate his pain
    It’s a program which has still be realized in Switzerland a long time ago and which has spread progressively in Europa. Instead, it seems to be more efficient to avoid young to meet drugs and to help, by substitution programs and psychological help, those who have fallen into addiction. But, both prevention and help to get out drug are not easy paths.
    But don’t misunderstand, I don’t encourage drug consumption … and, as you say, I’m not a specialist.
    Bruno.

  21. Posted June 5, 2012 at 19:15 by Natalia | Permalink

    Yeah, I can imagine that sometimes people just can’t be helped in any other way… Of course, I understand it’s better that someone gives them the drug rather than them having to mug or steal to be able to afford it. It’s a very sad situation, though.
    How do they evaluate who really needs that free dose and who doesn’t? Where does the money for those drugs come from? (government, I guess?)

    I really hope the campaigns for the youth work and there’s less and less people falling into that kind of “lifestyle” in the future.

  22. Posted June 6, 2012 at 08:33 by ib51 | Permalink

    I can just talk about the kind of stuff with my very limited experience and what I’ve read!
    Usually, it’s the health staff which decide who need substitute (buprenorphine, methadone) or free drugs program. It’s, in France and ,I think, elsewhere, a very framed process. The main problem is that these substitutes just avoid the daily need of drug and, thus, allow consumers to have a normal and well-socialized life. Instead of hard drugs, these substitution drugs don’t lead to an increase of the quantities needed to fell good. Unfortunately, in my (very little) experience, I’ve almost never seem some hard-drug addict who stop completely his addict behaviour. Often, they have to continue their substitute drug consumption during a long time or definitively. When they arrive to stop their consumption of heroin, they, often, transfer their addiction towards anxiolytic drugs or alcohol or both. It’s sometime despairing.
    Who pay? Actually, it’s the whole society who pay. In a kind of way society pay for drug addicts as it pay for diabetics. I understand that the comparison could look shocking but some consider that diabetes and addiction are, equally, illnesses … wide debate :-)
    I hope, as you, that,i the future and especially for youth, less and less people fall into that stuff. But on one hand wine excessive consumption is as older as the world (Noe was not sober), coca was well know in South-America and drugs like opium exist since a long time in the far east and since the 19th century in Europe but it was less spread, usually reserved to an “elite”. Maybe, it’s our current consumption society’s way of life which lead to this drug consumption … wide debate again :-)
    Once again, as about refugee people, drug consumers, are, in their greater majority, more to be complained than to be blamed … but, its just my opinion (by the way,have listen to Julilette’s song about refugee?).
    Have a good day.
    Bruno.

  23. Posted July 31, 2012 at 16:31 by christian | Permalink

    Well you know even the danes dont like the jantelov, and many say it dont exist, and yet most people live by it without knowing.

  24. Posted October 7, 2012 at 23:48 by Dave | Permalink

    Jante Law is a terrible thing. I lived in DK I experienced it. All it does is puff up the danes so as to not accept others outside of their race. And really Danes cannot learn something from other people?? Isn’t that a bit too proud? No one knows everything. Not even the Danes..

  25. Posted December 11, 2012 at 18:30 by mike | Permalink

    Foreign in Denmark?
    read what Philip Jones had to say
    about life here as an immigrant

    he was a brit, but got murdered here for speaking his mind

  26. Posted December 11, 2012 at 18:50 by Natalia | Permalink

    As far as I’ve read, he died of stomach cancer. It’s tragic, but not murder. As for the poisoning theories, well… they are theories. Saying he got murdered here for speaking his mind is a bit of a wild accusation.

    I have read some of the things, and I have to disagree. At least for now. Nevertheless, and since every opinion is welcome in this blog, I approve your comment for everyone to see :)

  27. Posted December 11, 2012 at 22:31 by Dave | Permalink

    Natalia, I have to say I did a little reading of Philip Jones works I did not read it all but Wow! what he did write was amazing.. That guy seemed to be right on with everything I read.

    As far as him getting murdered I am not saying I believe he did. I simply do not know if he was or not. But I believe that he very well may have been. This NWO is very evil and very real. As you know I once lived there and I know of the things he researched as well.. At the time I lived in DK I knew it was not right the way they lived it was odd. But now I see the connection as he did. I thank you for posting that persons comment and I thank them for posting it. Much appreciated. I think if someone died and they spoke about an injustice before their death it is only right that we hear what they had to say it is the right thing to do.

  28. Posted December 12, 2012 at 23:22 by Anne | Permalink

    Hi Dave

    You write: “That guy seemed to be right on with everything I read”. Could you be more specific on what exactly you refer? And I don’t mean thinks like: “the way they live is odd” – more specific than that please!

    Cause one think is sharing mere opinions – and another is referring to facts.

    Anne

  29. Posted December 12, 2012 at 23:47 by Dave | Permalink

    Hi Anne,

    I can elaborate, but where to start? That is the problem there is way too much to talk about. But I want you to know Anne I don’t hate the Danes.. It’s more the culture I don’t like. As far as what I agree with that Philip talked about that to is a very great subject, too great to deal with here.

    Just so you know Anne I lived in DK 4 yrs.. I have practicle experience.. so I know.

  30. Posted December 13, 2012 at 00:12 by Anne | Permalink

    Hi again Dave

    I don’t care if you hate danes or not. Think what you want.

    I just wanted you to give some examples. And since there are so many you don’t know “where to start”, it seems weird you can’t mention even one og two! And I seriously only ask cause I’m interested.

    People get inpressions and opinions about people and things within few seconds from encounter. It is what they do with the impressions and thoughts that matters.

    4 years don’t make you an expert. I’m no expert on danes either – and I’ve lived here for 37 years(I’m danish). Cause ultimately – one shouldn’t label others and their behavior. And making analyses on others should be done by referring to facts – not based on “self-claimed expert-opinions” due to many many moons in those surroundings!

    Psycologist claim, that 90 % of what we say and do, are rooted in ourselves and our own unique perception of the world and others.

    We ourselves, color the world we live in, and by nature make up conclusions, cause it is basic human need, to get things to “make sense”.

    Therefore those things we do not understand, or agree with, we find odd etc.

    Anne

  31. Posted December 13, 2012 at 00:28 by Dave | Permalink

    Anne, Having lived there 4 yrs means I have experience. That is not to be dismissed because you are Danish. Does not that make you predjuiced? Take the Jantelav does not that smell of communism? Trying to control the minds of people to make them not have much freedom of expression and oppurtunities. Especially immigrants. I was an immigrant from America I know what Freedom is supposed to be my stay at Denmark showed me Danes are not free they are controlled by a culture and each other. Their Jantelav is used against them if they want to rise above their fellowman either in the workplace or anywhere else for that matter. Immigrants are contained in apartment complexes because the racism in DK is very heavy handed. Those especially from the middle east are treated as 2nd class.

    Anne you see I have plenty to say about Denmark because I know.. Don’t try to tell me what I saw or the “science” of perception. That is gobbally gook..

  32. Posted December 13, 2012 at 00:45 by Dave | Permalink

    No Dane is going to tell me there is no racism in Denmark.. They have no credibilty.. They are the perpetraitors.. They cannot handle anyone else who is different than them. Then they want to tell others its all in YOUR head.. I say hogwash!

  33. Posted February 13, 2013 at 05:09 by Cleta | Permalink

    Hey! I know this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website such as yours take a massive amount
    work? I’m completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal on a daily basis. I’d like
    to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and views
    online. Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners.
    Appreciate it!

  34. Posted February 13, 2013 at 16:29 by Natalia | Permalink

    Hi Cleta,
    Well, I’d say it depends. I usually sit in front of the computer and open my blog with just a slight idea of what I want to write, so it takes me a bit to write each post. I would say that if you write a journal anyway (I’ve tried that several times and actually managed pretty well for some months, but not anymore) it would be relatively fast to just “transfer” it into your blog.
    When it comes to comments, it’s also up to you. I try to write back to people as soon as possible cause else I would forget and hate myself for it :P You can also choose to dedicate a while just one day per week to write back. You can see that in periods where I have exams or I’m really busy, my blog goes into hibernating mode. That’s not as much because I don’t have time to write, but because I don’t have the energy or I just don’t think about it.

    I deeply encourage you to start that blog and share your views with the world. It’s amazing the amount of things one can learn from just a comment on a post. Just don’t stress too much about it, and write whenever you feel like it. Try not to turn it into an obligation, it should be something you enjoy doing!

    Best of luck with your upcoming blog! :)

  35. Posted April 4, 2013 at 23:02 by Julian | Permalink

    As an Englishman who has lived in Denmark for forty years i have a certain amount of experience in the workings of the Danish mind.
    The frightening thing about this small country is how they still manage to remain so incredibly small minded in a world which is becoming smaller all the time. To get some kind of answer to the inevitable questions which arise one should have some knowledge of Denmarks history. The easiest way is to read up on their reaction to WWII and the Cold War. Simply put, disgusting.
    As to the way they treat foreigners, well that is simply a reflection of their small mindedness. An American ambassador upon leaving Denmark was interviewed by the paper BT and bluntly stated that “Danes are 50 to 70 years behind when it comes integration”.
    There are many “problems” with these people and trying to talk about it with Danish friends (if you can find some)can be very frustrating. Be aware, your Danish might be perfect but you will allways be a second class citizen.

  36. Posted April 5, 2013 at 19:04 by Natalia | Permalink

    Well, Julian, I really hope you’re not 100% right. I know I’ll never be a Dane (don’t want to be!), and I have accepted that I will most likely always be seen as a foreigner. Nevertheless, I don’t think that needs to be equivalent to being considered a second class citizen. Most Danes I am surrounded with are happy to have foreigners in Denmark as long as they work, pay their taxes and respect the system. At least that’s my impression.
    When I try and put myself in their place, I realize I used to feel the same way when I lived in Spain. I didn’t mind qualified people coming and getting jobs and building a life there (and I don’t mean highly qualified people as engineers or doctors, I mean people qualified for any job offered). The problem comes when people comes and tries to abuse the situation, that’s when fear kicks in (specially if they do it successfully).

  37. Posted April 5, 2013 at 19:24 by Anne | Permalink

    Hi Julian

    You seem very negative a agressive. Mayby thats why you don’t have danish friends.

    We’re small minded….well you put people in small boxes instead.

    You write “The easiest way is to read up on their reaction to WWII and the Cold War. Simply put, disgusting”. Please elaborate on that. It would be interesting to know what you mean exactly.

    Forty years here and no danish friends combined with your outlook on danes and life here…I know many foreigners (I’m danish) and they may be spaniards, english, swedish etc. And I am by far the only one.

    I don’t know what happend in your life. You sound emotionally vulnerable.

    PS: The english have never behaved discustingly…? :D :D

    I think all countries have things in the past that would qualify as discusting behavior.

    Anne

  38. Posted April 6, 2013 at 10:46 by Julian | Permalink

    Anne, I would suggest that you read my post properly. I wrote “There are many “problems” with these people and trying to talk about it with Danish friends (if you can find some)can be very frustrating.” I happen to have many Danish friends, or should i say aquaintences as a true friend is someone you can be honest with, say things they might not aggree with and still have a good time together. I only know a couple of Danes where our relationship functions at that level. They in contrast to other Danes have either worked for an international company or lived abroad for a while.
    As far as WWII is concerned Denmark is the only European country that has never had the courage to face reality and once and for all clear the air, get rid of all the skeletons in the cupboard face up to what you did and move on. That demands character, which is in short supply here. Rather harp on about how fantastic Denmark is in comparison to just about everybody else, including America.
    As you well know the former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the head of NATO, some months after he had been appointed he was interviewed by Berlingske Tidende, when asked why he had accepted the position he replied, “because of Denmarks disgusting behaviour during the war”. The next day he was very popular! What you must remember is that in this country people live in a bubble, anyone who tries to question this utopia is automatically attacked, or ignored. I learnt early on to ignore such stupidity, if i had´nt then i dont think i would still be here. Another very disturbing fact is how Danish media is very selective as to what they print/broadcast. Not by lying about the truth but simply by ommiting to tell all the facts. As for the Cold War, my God how on earth have you managed to isolate yourself from the facts for so long?
    I dont know how old you are but Denmarks reputation took some hard knocks during the Cold War, why, because you constantly worked against NATO. During the eighties Denmark became known as the “footnote country” in NATO meetings. Maybe you can remember this period. Once again it took an American ambassador to tell the Danish media that Denmark had never fullfilled its obligations to NATO one hundred percent. It was very interesting to follow these antics in those days. I recall saying to a friend that it was as if Denmark was sitting on a fence with a leg on each side. Unable to make a stand and actually stand up for what they said they believed in. Pathetic. Men like my father fought for people like you Anne, i would advise you to kindly remember that.
    Finally Anne try not to let your emotions take control over your intelligence. I am neither negative or aggresive, just factual, there is a difference.
    Today the sun is shining and i am going to enjoy the day by going for a drive with my best friend.
    Have a good day. SKÅÅÅÅÅÅL!!!!

  39. Posted April 6, 2013 at 11:18 by Natalia | Permalink

    On a side note: I intend for the blog to be a place where anyone can speak up their minds as long as they do it politely. I know it’s hard for the Danes not to feel offended when one criticizes Denmark, but please try and not take opinions too personally :)

    People might say the powerful people in Spain are extremely corrupted and they’d be quite right. They might call us a lot of things, some of which might be more or less true and I really don’t care. I am not the country I come from or the country I live in, I am not responsible for the decisions other people have made (sometimes in my name).

    Denmark has some very good things and also some bad ones as every other place, and in this little blog there will always be space for both :)

  40. Posted April 6, 2013 at 13:16 by Anne | Permalink

    Julian, I was born in 1975. But know some history.

    One thing I am sick of is how english people remind us of how greatful we should be. We are greatful. But it’s hard to express towards someone as hostile as you appear to be.

    I suggest you re-read your first post. It seems more emotional than intelligent – your second one is much more elaborate. But still hostile.

    And Natalia. I’m simply responding to a harsh post – showing character per request :D When yelled at – I yell back, cause the same things could be said in a different tone. As I see it.

    But surely, it’s your blog. Your call. Time and time again I’ve seen foreigners write very harshly, but when called upon it – you defend them, and tell f.ex. me straight.

    I’ll stop following this blog – it’s definetly for the best. On so many levels.

  41. Posted April 6, 2013 at 13:36 by Natalia | Permalink

    Anne, I am really sad you feel this way. I wasn’t defending him for what he was saying, I was defending his right to say it if it’s the way he feels. As much as I defend your right to defend your country and what you think about it.

    I must have explained myself wrongly if you got a message different to that one. I wasn’t at all telling you straight, I was actually trying to make you less upset by pointing that he wasn’t attacking you directly but merely expressing his opinion.

    In any case, all this time I have very much appreciated your inputs and I have never showed any sort of hostility towards you, which you have on your last comment.

    Still, goodbye and good luck :)

  42. Posted April 6, 2013 at 14:05 by Dave | Permalink

    Julian, Thank you very much for explaining your experiences. You are correct about much of what happens. Anne please don’t take what he said as personal. Anne you have to take into account that the actions taken by the Danish culture causes real pain/unfairness to immigrants. The only way for use to air our grievances is on blogs such as this. I know there are good Danes you may even be one. I knew nice Danes but I also experienced racist treatment there enough so that I it left me bitter towards Denmark. We Americans are open hearted toward races and ways but after 4 years there it digusted me to the point where it almost made me racist toward Danes. Though I am not racist but it certainly made me not have good feelings toward them.

  43. Posted April 6, 2013 at 14:08 by Anne | Permalink

    Then I appologize sincerely. Didn’t mean to be hostile – and least of all to you. Being so lucky to have met you, I know that you’re a sweetheart.

    I simply wanted to state my opinion.

    My apology, and the best wishes to you.

  44. Posted April 6, 2013 at 14:49 by Natalia | Permalink

    Dave, I feel on the need to point out that your statement of “We Americans are open hearted toward races” depends very much on what State we are talking about, I would say…
    I mean, the USA could almost be a continent on themselves (if you compare them to e.g. us Europe) and there’s quite a lot of diversity on opinions towards other races and all.
    It’s the same in little Denmark, at a much smaller scale. Problem is that bad stories always speak a lot louder than the good ones.

    No apology needed, Anne, I am glad we understood each other :)

  45. Posted April 6, 2013 at 16:16 by Dave | Permalink

    Natalia, I have been around my country/continant there are differences in local cultures etc. Sure there are some who may be racist. I am speaking as a whole. I have seen many states in action in real life so I think I know. For the most part we have less intentional racism than europe. Although since our new president has come in we have seen much black on white racism. But generally we are as americans accepting of other races it is our characteristic. It was not until I visited europe did I experience racism myself and see how behind they were..

  46. Posted April 6, 2013 at 17:45 by Natalia | Permalink

    Well Dave, then I owe you an apology since my vision of your country must be too influenced by movies and such :) I always thought that in some states (Texas,Utah…) racism was more or less common.
    What about towards Muslims?

  47. Posted April 6, 2013 at 18:08 by Dave | Permalink

    That’s ok Natalia no apology needed. Those states have their own ways, slow paced etc.. But they do not hate others they realize we are all different. They prefer to keep their cultures but they do respect others (us yanks). As far as Muslims/Hindus and others we don’t hate them. In fact many of the gas stations are run by these.. We accept that they are different yet fellow humans. TV/movies are not a true reflection of the people of the US.. Much of that is fiction propaganda.. Used to try and steer public thinking.. It does work to a certain extent but I would say it’s not very successful. Those outside of the US think it represents the people. People here are basically just trying to survive wherever they live. Survival is paramount over the little things of race.. When one is trying to survive they don’t have time for petty race issues.. Unless they are complaining about illegals coming over the border and taking the jobs from legal people.

  48. Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:56 by Julian | Permalink

    As i expected the truth is too much for some people. I had hoped it would not have been necassary to have to write what i am going to now, but insulting people does not help.
    I came to this country in 1972 to visit a couple of my friends from London who had moved here. I was at the time an aircraft engineer and had been working for the Abu Dhabi Defence Force. It was never my intention to stay but to continue working in my profession and travel the world. After a couple of mediocre jobs i got a chance at something which really interested me. Photographer, working in Det Berlingske Hus. How i actually got the job is bizare, but another story. I started by working in the dark-room, the only non qualified guy there but i was naturally gifted apparently and progressed, until in 1994 i became picture editor for the newspaper BT. This position demands a lot from the editor and is VERY stressfull however i thrive on pressure and loved my job and all the daily problems that came with it. As some may know newspaper sales in the west have been falling each year, the consequences are inevitable, redundancies. I survived a number of yearly cutbacks but in 2002 my number came up after 27 years in the organisation. I was 51, not a good start when people over 40 have little chance any more. The problem i was about to encounter had not entered my mind. I applied for all types of employment, from filling shelves in a supermarket to whatever i regarded as being within my capabilities, without luck. One example. A position for a property photographer in Odense. Not a position which would have tested my capabilities but better than a supermarket. I recieved an email reply where just four words were written, “Hvor kommer du fra?” where do you come from? That was all, not a word more. Oh, by the way i forgot to mention, my surname is Polish, my old man managed to escape from Poland and reached the UK so he could fight on. It also states clearly on my CV, British Citizen. It was then i realised what i was up against. As any normal thinking person i realised that if one person writes it, how many think it?
    One has no choice but to accept this truth.
    I have lost count of how many jobs i have applied for but will not bore anybody with my other bad experiences except the one which has made me say enough. I am not like the Danes, i left home when sixteen and learnt to fend for myself. I lived off my own money for years but finally had no choice but to ask for help. Now the system here allows a person to take someone with them when applying for help. I had only been living here on Langeland for a couple of years but had met a couple who had been very helpfull and we got on well together. The wife offered to come with me as she had experience of dealing with these people. So in February of last year we went for the meeting. We sat together while the the “sags behandler” asked his questions and wrote feverishly on his pc, suddenly Jytte out of the blue said, “Allan if you where an employer would you give Julian a job?” Instantaneously the reply came, “No, he might as well be called Mohammed”. He did´nt even have the decency to look at me when he said it. I said nothing but got up and left the room, (i hope your reading this Anne)when i got outside i felt like i was going to have a heart attack, i was boiling. I walked down the corridor and waited, after a few minutes Jytte turned up, the first thing i said was Jytte why did you ask that? She replied, “Julian, during the two years we have have known each other you have told us of some of the things you have experienced, but i di´nt believe you”.
    What do you do to survive in this racist country? I could give more examples but what´s the point. Danes are the way they are.
    Consequently i am now seriously thinking about returning to a civilised country, its an absolute waste of time here.
    So all you newbies, think very carefully before you take root here, it has a high price. Conform, give up your identity become a zombie like the natives and you will have a good but extremely boring life. If you like alcohol you will be fine.
    If anybody is interested i am on Facebook where i have some pictures, take a look if you want. Enjoy your Sunday.

  49. Posted April 7, 2013 at 16:25 by Dave | Permalink

    Sounds like you have been through it too.. I got so angry over there it separated me from my so called friends!! I put up with it for quite a while but then it was too much to overlook because it was putting me down and them up. Yet everyone acted like I was the problem. No one was honest about their actions. Danes make their own rules, believe what they want and snub us foreigners. I did not put up with it after 4 years I said enough was enough went back to my home country. I do not recommend anyone to move there.. If you do you will be belittled and they will try to strip you of your own personality to make you assimilate as if accepting their food lifestyle is not enough. No they want you to think your knowledge and wisdom is not enough. They fail to realize they are just a small country surrounded by a huge world that knows more than them about life. It was kind of like being on the Truman Show for 4 years. Needless to say like Truman I found my way out of the bubble/dome..

  50. Posted April 9, 2013 at 11:21 by Julian | Permalink

    Dave, Yes is´nt it strange how they make you feel as if there was something wrong with you. They are allways right, it´s you that has the problem. Why because you have a different way of thinking/seeing the world. You must conform or be ostracised.
    The last government and the one before that on a number of occasions had spoken with concern about higher educated expats who had been enticed here, but then left. This was causing them to think about how they could change this. So they set up a website, the only official one. The idea was to help the expats settle, give them the chance to ask questions and generally make their life easier. Unfortunately what they to their shock discovered was a lot of critical comments. How could this be? Denmark is the center of the universe! We are the best country in the world.
    Well two days before i wrote my first post here i wrote a short entry on their site. It was rejected. They want to know why people were leaving but as usual the reality did´nt fit their own fantasy. No hope.
    When i lived in Copenhagen i had a German friend, he was a bit older than myself, had been a small child during the war so had some other experiences. He was married to a Japanese girl. You would not believe the crap that poor man had to suffer. One day we were talking and he said to me, “You know what Julian, these people are more Aryian than a German could ever be”. I have never forgotten that. Both him and i are too old to go home, so we have to make the best of it. It´s not fun.

  51. Posted April 9, 2013 at 11:25 by Julian | Permalink

    Natalia, I am sorry if this has taken your breath away, but the truth has a habit of upsetting people. Whatever you do dont give up, here on this blog or generally in life. Remember you now have information which can help you, use it to your advantage.

  52. Posted April 12, 2013 at 16:17 by Dave | Permalink

    No surprise to me Julian.. Interesting after a while when I was there I told my wife how then I could understand how Hitler came about right next to DK. Because the attitudes are ripe for a racist war with the separation of racist states. That is what brought hitler about. I actually liked many of the Danes because they did have some good qualities like their shyness. But under the shyness in some lied a silent evil and that of no respect for anyone in authority or who thinks independent from them. Well I can say I did not let them bully me they came up against the wrong person. I was always taught to stand up for myself and my rights as a human. Regardless of the bureaucracy or machine of their cultures grinding techniques on peoples identity. But sadly that way is spreading worldwide now. Julian try to enjoy what you do have. Keep your own identity. Enjoy nature, the little things it helps to keep your sanity.. :-)

  53. Posted May 29, 2013 at 18:34 by Natalia | Permalink

    Dear Julian and Dave,
    I am really sorry it’s taken me AGES to write back to you. For some reason I never received email notifications of these comments and I’ve been out of the blog for a long while (very hectic period), so it’s the first I am reading now.
    It makes me really sad that you have those points of view, because they are probably founded. In this blog, I can only speak from personal experience, and I have been lucky enough to not go through something like that (at least yet).
    Also, I really appreciate your inputs and points of view, since they make this blog a much more interesting place :)

    That said, I think getting Hitler into the conversation is going a bit too far. Lets not make the mistake of generalizing and creating a stereotype that would surely not represent the majority of the population.

    I honestly think Danes are just not used to immigration in the same way other countries are, and most negative reactions are a product of ignorance and “fear”. They might not understand the advantages of a more multicultural environment, because things worked just fine when it was just them, but I do not believe it has anything to do with them thinking they are a superior race whatsoever.

    Time will say if I change my mind or not. Hopefully not :)

  54. Posted September 12, 2013 at 17:37 by Jack | Permalink

    Denmark without the Law of Jante (Janteloven in Danish) would be like Denmark without the little mermaid ;-) But I could do without the Law of Jante (Janteloven in Danish) ;-)

  55. Posted September 24, 2013 at 21:42 by mike | Permalink

    I hate the Jantelov in Denmark. I think that people should be able to live the life they want to without anyone else have to interfere with their lifes. I dont care if people spents a lot of money the have loaned in the bank or if they just want to show off in nice big cars. I am consentrating of my own life

  56. Posted December 28, 2013 at 19:59 by John | Permalink

    But Danish and other Scandinavian cultures have two major blind spots– on is “Jantes Law” or “Janteloven” and the other is isolation and resistance to more easily making friends.
    The Janteloven mentality can strangle the special gifts and abilities that people have, which is a kind of cruelty and also starves society of these gifts as well, since society needs artists, our entrepeneurs, our writers etc. So Jante actually can become anti-human, since each individual human being has unique abilities, gifts and unique things to offer. The other issue– the idea that it should be extremely hard and rare to make close friends also strangles people. The human spirit can really suffer in too much isolation and also personal growth can be limited in some cases if we can’t more easily have the gifts of friendship in our lives. Also I have seen Scandinavians who were totally stuck with terrible friends who were really bad for them, or holding them back and preventing them from growing as people because of the fear that “it’s so hard to make a new friend here in Denmark, even nearly impossible at times”– this sort of thing can become a terrible oppression, very opposite of the otherwise great human values in Scandinavia. It is oppression to kill the special unique qualities of an individual and it is also oppression to starve everyone of the ability to easily make new friends when needed. So these are the two “demons” of Denmark and it’s Nordic neighbors, although so many other good things about these countries (wonderful care for people at the “system level”), and wonderful respect for others in many other ways other than Jante, are to be respected and to be learned from by the rest of the world–
    I am an American who has known a lot of Scandinavians through working at hostels. I love people from Scandinavia and I have learned a lot from them, including enjoying friendship with Scandinavians. But every culture has its blind spots and its imitations. America culture certainly has it’s own blind spots, for example our insane love of money and our emphasis on the individual to such an extreme that the weak or disadvantaged suffer too much.So I really, really respect how Danes and also their other Nordic neighbors take better care of people and don’t just leave everything to “survival of the fittest” like happens more here in America.

  57. Posted December 28, 2013 at 20:31 by John | Permalink

    P.S. Sorry about the spelling issues, I am having a problem with my computer when I try to type faster…

  58. Posted December 29, 2013 at 18:51 by Natalia | Permalink

    Dear John,
    Thanks for your wise words, I couldn’t agree more. I actually don’t know if it’s hard for Danes to make new friends, but maybe that’s why they stick with people they’ve known since their childhood/youth. How great working at hostels and getting to know people from all over the world :)
    I, as you, believe in the uniqueness of human beings, and how we should appreciate and acknowledge the things we are good at and what makes us special. And that is how I’m going to raise my children someday, letting them know that they’re not good at everything, but that they’re definitely better than some people at some things. It’s difficult for a person to grow if they think there’s no room for improvement.

  59. Posted May 17, 2014 at 20:19 by Mary | Permalink

    Hi Natalie….I am married to a Dane. I am from England. I have only recently heard about this law from my sister-in-law. I was trying to find out more information about it. I am quite surprised by the definition of humility, and fitting in, don’t make waves, etc….when the Danish relatives come to visit, I find that they are arrogant and very cold to outsiders. They like to drink, smoke, sing and eat. They are crude and vulgar and sexually inappropriate to their own family members. I have been told this is all very common behavior in Denmark. I couldn’t really see any of the humility and quietness of the Jante Laws….

  60. Posted May 18, 2014 at 11:42 by Natalia | Permalink

    Hi Mary :)
    Well, I can only speak from my own experience, which is probably not the norm since my family in law are part of the minority of Danes who are Christians.
    I did find them a bit cold at the beginning (it’s gotten much better), but I come from a Mediterranean country (where physical contact, hugs and expressions of love are common), so I thought the shock was normal. It’s interesting to see they can also seem cold to a British!
    How long have you known your in-laws for, if it not too much to ask? I find Danish humour to be something one needs to get used to, and it takes time. Maybe the sexually inappropriate things have to do with their sense of humour? (I really hope so, on your behalf!). And they can also be brutally honest, sometimes coming around as crude.
    Maybe you should talk to them and explain the cultural shock, they should be able to understand that some things bother you and they should then keep them to themselves. I hope it gets better. :)
    In my opinion, the drinking and singing and eating are indeed very typical behaviours here – specially the “heavy” drinking, which I find quite sad. But if you look at society as a whole, there’s a sort of homogeneity, specially in smaller cities. No one stands out particularly, a lot of people dress in very neutral colours, no one will go around yelling they’re the best or bragging. Not as much as in other places, at least.
    But of course, this is only my very limited view of the society. I guess the more Danes we meet, the broader a view we will have. Maybe in 5 years our opinions will have changed radically!

    Best,
    Natalia

  61. Posted May 18, 2014 at 17:03 by Anne | Permalink

    Hi Mary

    I’m a non-christian dane – and I do not drink (well, wine with meals etc). And I know many danes that do not drink either. So I quess it depends on who you meet. That being said, yes there are a drinking-culture that I don’t like. Good thing is that more and more people are aware of it. And binge-drinking amongst the kids become less and less cool.

    In regards to danes being cold – I’m sorry that is your experience. But I think I understand why. Especially compared to the british, who I often find so charming and warm. And I love your straightforwardness.

    I cross my fingers that you’ll have better experiences with my fellow danes with time. And remember – Idiots are everywhere. Amongst them you might find the exception to the rule. We don’t all binge-drink. We are not all sexually inappropriate etc.

    Best wished

    Anne :)

One Trackback

  1. [...] one is better than anyone else. Popularized by a 1930s novel, and explained much more eloquently in this recent blog post, the law emphasizes the importance of [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Home is Where Your Heart is

Natalia

Atypical Mediterranean married to a Viking and learning the “ways of the North” in beautiful Aarhus. Amateur photographer, fairytale believer, Biologist and closet sci-fi geek, among other things.