New in Denmark

Boo! Or ho, ho, ho?

We’re just back from efterårsferie - a.k.a. week 42 - a.k.a. the Danish schools’ half-term autumn week and we’re gearing up for Halloween.  Pumpkins galore at the greengrocers and – see – there was even a nice witch down at our local library!  Gys eller guf?  (Trick or treat?)

But – ho, ho, ho? – its also beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Denmark.  Now, to be honest, the Danes aren’t too bemused by the idea of Christmas in October.  So the shops are  v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y  adding sparkly items to their displays and waiting for Halloween to be over so that they can finally go full throttle.  Though I was at IKEA this morning and there the aisles were heavily decked with boughs of holly plastic fir.

Danish supermarkets are already pushing classic Christmas biscuits and clementines. Guilty as charged, I bought some! :P

But, like it or not, there’s no turning back ‘cos these babies are now on sale – lying in wait in the freezer section of your supermarket, ready to make an appearance at nursery, school or your coffee table.  Æbleskiver!  Has it really been a year?!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Diane :)



You know you’re (back) in Denmark when… (Copenhagen airport)

You know you’re (back) in Denmark when…

The Danish schools’ half-term break is over and my ‘wee’ ones (Dear Son, 14 and Dear Daughter, 12) are back behind their desks – hooray! The weather here last week was dreadful (not even a case of “the wrong clothing”) with long, dark days and rain, rain and more rain.  Yep, when my buddies and I were down winterbathing (i.e. skinny dipping in the Danish sea), I even kept my souwester on… ;)

Luckily we had booked a family trip to Paris and managed to escaped the rain in Copenhagen for a couple of days.  Why Paris?  Well, we’re francophiles.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) and I speak fluent French (we both worked at the EC Court of Justice in Luxembourg) and DS14 and DD12 are both learning French at school (the choice here is French or German).  But, as usual, I digress!

We flew home on Friday afternoon and – much as I love to be away – it’s always nice to get back home.  As soon as we got to Baggage Reclaim the kids made a beeline for…

…the Lego blocks!  Too old for Lego?  Never!  Just don’t tell their friends… :P

Meanwhile DDH and I “ooohed” and “aaahed” over the delicious smells coming from the pølsevogn (sausage wagon) right next to the baggage carrousel.  Home sweet home!  Must.  Resist.

On the way out of the Arrivals Hall there’s a huge lightshow/poster that says “Welcome to the world’s happiest nation.  That calls for a Carlsberg“.  Ha!  The holy Danish trinity of Lego, hotdogs and beer! :)  Unfortunately, I was being pushed from all angles by (crazy Danes battling) baggage trolleys and couldn’t stop to snap a pic…  So you’ll have to do with this one – one of the baggage carrousels decked out by Carlsberg back in May 2012 for Euro2012.

It’s good to be back.  Hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Diane :)


Blink At Your Own Risk: Denmark and Handball

Since moving over here, I have come to find that Danes generally love sports, specifically team sports. The idea that one person can win but it is more fun to do it as a team really shines through. Perhaps this is a reflection on the Danish society. The official national sport of Denmark is football. It is the most popular sport to be played or watched, with over 1,600 clubs registered with the Danish Football association. Since the founding of the Danish Superliga (Denmark’s Premier league), popularity and attendances to games has continued to grow. However, Danes are greedy when it comes to ‘national sports’ as handball is considered their national sport of the winter. In fact, it is not uncommon for a football team and a handball team to share the same name and team emblem. Handball is mainly played on an indoor court, so that it can be played on the cold wintery nights in Denmark. It is played in equal measure by males and females and the Danes are very good at it!

Handball is not as well known in England as it is in other European countries. I wanted to get to know what it is all about and why the Danes love it so much. I have watched several matches from varying leagues and done some research into the game. At club level in Denmark, the Boxer Herreligaen and Dameligaen are the top-flight male and female leagues of handball in Denmark respectively. They are named Boxer due to ‘Boxer TV’ owning the rights to show the matches. The champion team of each league is place in the European Handball Federations’ (EHF) Champions League. Below these leagues  are the male and female 1st division leagues. The EHF are also responsible for the Euro competitions of national handball teams. Without regurgitating the facts and stats, let’s just say that the men and the women of the Danish National Handball teams do more than hold their own in Europe.




My first impression was that handball is a mix between basketball and hockey (especially the size of the goal).The game was lots of walking and throwing the ball from side to side… I was wondering where the action was. Suddenly, a burst of energy from one of the players diving forward and throwing the ball into the net. This jolted the opposing team into motion and it was end to end action for the rest of the game. Becoming more engrossed in the game, I realised that these burst of energy are a way to dictate the play and catch the other team off guard. I do not remember the teams that were playing the first time I watched handball but it was a great game and both teams scored over 20 goals. It is quite common for handball matches to finish with high scores. Goals are made and scored in a matter of seconds and you blink at your own risk of missing a goal. Of course, the game makes more sense when you understand the rules and the roles of the players.

Each team has seven players on the field at one time. Substitutions can be done at any time and are unlimited. In the defence, there is a goalkeeper and left and right backs who block incoming shots. A centre’s job is to float in both the defence and the attack. They aim to influence the balance of play by being a playmaker for the attack from a deep position. In the attack, there are right and left wingers who create chance and try to score from more awkward angles. To top of the attack, the circle runner who is a nuisance for the opposing defence. The circle runner gets in and amongst the opposing defence in order to get in a position to shoot or set up a teammate.


With each of the players in their positions, there is a basic set of rules that they must abide by. Only the goalkeeper is allowed inside the ‘goalkeeper area’, which is inside the 6-meter line. However, when attacking a player is allowed to dive into the area and shoot before they land. The defending team are allowed into the area after a shot to collect the ball.

None of the players, expect goalkeepers, are allowed to use their feet. If the ball touched the foot of an outfield player, then possession is awarded to the opposing team. A player is not allowed to make more than three steps without bouncing the ball. This is the reason why there are many passes across the court whilst advancing to the opponent’s goal. In addition, a player cannot be dribbling the ball, walk three steps whilst holding the ball and then starting to dribble again. This is classed as a ‘double-dribble,’ which is not allowed.  If the ball goes out of play down the sidelines then a throw in is awarded to the team that did not knock it out.

When the ball goes over the goal line (not in the goal), a corner throw is awarded if it goes out off a defender and goal throw is awarded if it goes out of the goalkeeper. There should be no pushing or pulling, tripping or charging of players, the focus should be on getting possession of the ball when it is thrown

When these rules are not followed, this can result in a player getting a warning in the form of a yellow card, a two minute suspension or they can be sent off.  A ‘free throw’ may be awarded in case of misconduct or a ‘penalty throw’ when the offending player clearly obstruct a goal scoring opportunity.


If you fancy watching an intense sport with lots of goals, then I recommend watching handball and there is no better place for that than in Denmark. It is enough to make you want to get involved!



A mini-guide to surviving as a vegetarian

It’s a hard life for vegetarians in Denmark – a country known for its huge consumption of meat, especially pork and beef. Ask the 80 members of Raw Vegans Community in Aarhus, a facebook group started to help fellow vegans and vegetarians in tiding over the lack of information on the right type of nutrition and food availability crisis faced by almost all of them.

Being a vegetarian myself, I had to adjust to limited food items available in the supermarkets. But I wanted to know how some others were adjusting to these conditions.

Kirsten Vernon from Aars was about 19-years-old when she decided to go vegan and later turned vegetarian. “I had many vegans in my network and had seen ‘riots’ against cruel treatment of animals by the meat industry that views them only as food and not living beings. I lived in Austria at that time and to be a vegan was quite exotic. But I had made my decision. It’s also a good way to detox your body,” she says.

Kirsten got funny reactions from friends and family and it took her time to adjust to a new lifestyle. “I lived in a small mountain town where it was normal to eat meat every day, like it is in Denmark. National dishes are only with meat in Austria. And it was quite difficult to find vegan and vegetarian food in the local supermarkets.”

However, according to her, it was not an uphill task to learn new recipes. “As a teenager, I had many fasting periods and it was a natural thing for me to control my food patterns in order to enjoy food and beverages in a qualitative, instead of a quantitative, way. Moreover, I have lived in cities like Berlin and Hamburg, where it is easy to try a lot of different dishes from around the world. That always gave me inspiration to be creative in the kitchen with recipes with no meat.”

“Now I am a vegetarian but eat eggs and fish too. I think it is better to be a vegetarian than a vegan. You learn how to control your food patterns and listen to your body. Fasting is a very good way to do this too.”

Kirsten takes a selfie with her favourite tofu brand

Kirsten rues the fact that Danish supermarkets do not sell a lot of vegetarian food.

“Germany is a dream destination for shopping vegetarian food. The supermarkets, especially the bio-markets, in Germany have a fantastic variety of healthy vegetarian food as well as fast food. In Denmark, this might happen someday but it will be a long way for this pig-rearing country to consume lesser meat.”

Another long-time vegetarian in Denmark, Janna Kelley, who recently moved back to the US from Aarhus, says, “Though it’s not easy being a vegetarian in Denmark, it is becoming easier. For example, if you go to just about any restaurant and request a vegetarian dish to be made specially for you, most of them are more than happy to do it. I have also often called restaurants ahead of time to request for a vegetarian dish and they appreciated it.”

She shares some alternative protein food items, brands and places to get them in Aarhus:

1.       Quinoa – Ren Kost organic store on Jægergårdsgade 45, Aarhus C. Also, increasingly common in stores like Føtex.
(You can read more about Quinoa here:

2.       Soya – Salling food market. The brand is called Garden Gourmet, found in the frozen food section.

3.       Pinto Beans – Føtex or any organic shop

4.       Tofu – Føtex or any organic shop

Janna also recommends these restaurants with vegetarian options in Aarhus:

1.       Drudenfuss

2.       Råbar

3.       Den Grønne Papaya

4.       Pita Bar – for falafel and kufta (You can find more restaurants here:

For those of you struggling with vegetarian recipes, here are some links suggested by her: - her favourite! - the BEST recipe to make refried beans, according to her.

Janna also suggests making veggie stir fry, spaghetti, casserole dishes, or just about any recipe that calls for meat, and then substituting it with soya.

Did you know?

Raising meat takes a great deal of land and water and has a substantial environmental impact. Put simply, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Source: The Blog of Bill Gates



Dual Citizenship? Why stop at Three?

Back in June, the Danish parliament passed legislation clearing the way for dual citizenship in Denmark for foreigners. Which got me to wondering: Why stop at two?

Now before you think this is an attack on Denmark’s proposed dual citizenship program, slated to start in the summer of 2015, think again. But before I launch into my main point, some background on dual citizenship.

First the basics.

Wading through all the different websites regarding dual citizenship, I came across the website, (a word to the wise: someone who set-up this website needed a copy editor. Let alone understanding when there is a list of names, like countries, one should list them alphabetically) which addressed such citizenship.

This is what I found:

- Countries like the US, UK, Australia and Switzerland have no restrictions on holding dual nationality.

- Countries like Austria, India , Saudi Arabia and Singapore do not recognize dual citizenship, “leading up to automatic loss of citizenship upon acquiring (a)nother.”

- The list of other countries that allow dual citizen has grown down through the years with some nations putting restrictions on such citizenship: Countries like Armenia, Australia, Barbados, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malta,  Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Syria, and Tonga.

- Countries that allow dual citizenship with various restrictions include Egypt and Germany (both requiring prior permission), Pakistan (only with 16 other countries), Spain(allowed only with Latin American countries), Sri Lanka (by retention), and Turkey (requires permission).

- Countries that currently do not allow dual citizenship: Andorra, Australia, Azerbaijan, Burma, Bahrain, Botswana, Brunei, China, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Mexico, Netherlands, Nepal, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Solomon Islands, Thailand, United Arab Emirates,  Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Did you noticed Denmark is among these other countries? I put it in bold to stand out.

Now my point: Why stop at three?

As an American, I of course have my U.S. citizenship by virtue of birth. Because I live in Canada, I can – and will some day will – apply for Canadian citizenship without relinquishing my U.S. citizenship. But let’s say I wanted a Danish citizenship because of my Larsen family ties to Denmark through my grandfather (Ireland permits this I have read with some restrictions). One where I could claim citizenship – now here’s the catcher – without the financial or social benefits that typically goes with citizenship. We all know this is the dirty little secret Danish-born Danish have against immigrants (I heard it too from a friend of my husband, saying she hoped I didn’t become another person supported Canada’s social welfare system). Is this farfetched?

Like in the European Union, some day I hope the three nations in the Western Hemisphere – Canada, Mexico and the United States – move towards adopting a Western Hemisphere citizenship and passport. But not until xenophobic and downright racist and anti-foreigner or immigrant sentiment – largely from white Americans toward Mexicans, Latinos or others from south of the border.

As our world gets smaller through travel and communications, maybe it’s time we should look at the broader picture of citizenship. And expand beyond the narrow definition of dual citizenship into what I call ‘open citizenship.’ Where a person could claim citizenship by virtue of birth, where they live, and the origins of their family.

Would like to know what you think.

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