Every October there is an event in Copenhagen that I have come to greatly enjoy these past 10 years. It is called Kulturnat or Culture Night. It is 24 hours of amazing events in all areas of culture in all areas of the city. From music and art to architecture, food and lectures, there is something for everyone. This year I think it will be even better with some new cozy offring from Carlsberg, the country’s well-known brewery. (more…)
New in Denmark
One of the things I love about Denmark (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…) is the mixture of new and old. On the face of it, Denmark is a liberal, modern, forward thinking country. When you scratch the surface, you discover the Danes’ deeply ingrained love of traditions. This morning I saw the new/old combo working in reverse.
We were at church for a Harvest service…
It was very traditional, so there were all the usual elements you’d expect. Beautiful displays at the church entrance.
Inside the church there were candles and flower/grain decorations at the end of every pew… (Yes, there we go again with those ubiquitous candles!)
When I went to church as a child in Scotland (on a side note, the Danish and Scottish church are very similar: they are both Lutheran), a large wooden plate would be passed around halfway through the service at Collection time. You would put in your coins as it was handed along the pew. Ching, ching! Or a little brown envelope containing your donation. When the plate made it to the other end of the pew, it was then handed to the first person in the pew behind, and off it went again. And so on and so forth. Fast forward to 2016… Ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 These days you can make a donation on the way in, or on the way out. In our church, the collection box is fixed to the end of the first pew.
Oh, but hang on a minute, we’re in Denmark, right? Where most people don’t carry small change or banknotes. You see, we hardly ever use cash: we use our bank cards or our phones to pay for things. Remember my post from 2014? Cash ain’t King when you don’t have a Crown? Never fear! The church has thought of everything! Did you notice the little sticker above the collection box? With the ‘Mobile Pay’ or ‘Swipp’ app on your smartphone, you simply type in your donation and press send.
And, voilà, it’s done! No more fiddling around, desperately looking for coins underneath the sofa cushions or in your Dad’s coat pockets, before heading out to church. Less risk for the church of having the collection box stolen.
Hallelujah! Have a super Sunday!
It was July 2009, when I got confirmation to start my masters study at Technical University of Denmark from September 2009 on-wards. That means, I was going to Denmark. By no means, I have heard much about Denmark. Except the university, I was not even aware of anything other than name of Copenhagen. And according to my father, ‘I can only see island and only island’, where are you going to live? That was the level of information, anyone had about Denmark prior to my admission into one of the top technical universities of the world. Like everyone, I used Google to get more information about my new home.
I have also joined few Facebook groups to get more information. To inquire more about the perception of other people, I have also searched newspaper websites to search news items about Denmark. Not much positive is written about Denmark at least from the people’s perspective, but I chose to ignore it. As, many people land in foreign country without willing to leave their previous land behind. Perception from such people may not help, when I was looking forward to travel to a land far away from my home.
That was also the first time, I got to know about large scale electricity production from Wind Mills. It was also the first time, I heard about Vestas. The New York Times article talked about importance of Wind Energy in securing future of Denmark. Let me not go into the wind energy sector, as that is not the purpose of this blog. But, a real question, is how wind energy became so huge in Denmark? Why it has grown so fast in recent years? and why other countries are taking inspiration from Denmark?
I will not comment on the direction of political parties of Denmark at present. But their thinking and mutual bonding about Wind Energy sector deserve some appreciation.
The article at New York Times highlighted, consensus built among the political parties to harness the wind energy potential of Denmark. When a long term plan was set, every political was brought on board. Very rarely, many parties come on board and sang in one voice. The long term plan has been finalized to give priority to Wind Energy sector. It has been agreed, that whichever party will come into power, the long term plan for Wind Energy sector will not be altered. If it has to change, then it has to be through mutual agreement. The subsidies provided to the farmers form the backbone of entire wind energy industry. It started a completely new style of thinking in gaining energy from the renewable resource.
There has been many examples, but arriving on discussion based on mutual discussions is very normal style of functioning in Denmark. In my view, building consensus in decision making has both pros and cons in larger global affairs. Definitely, it is not necessary need to true in other parts of the world as it slow down decision making process considerably. However, this style of working works very well in the land of vikings.
So, learn to build consensus by taking account with every stakeholders, when you are in Denmark.
[This blog post reflect my personal opinion]
Welcome to Danish autumn! We officially started a couple of days ago (1 September) but autumn has been making its presence felt for a couple of weeks. And it’s the usual story…first thing in the morning there is heavy dew on the grass outside and condensation on the windows inside. When I cycle down for my sea swim it’s so c-c-cold on the bike ride that I’m already wearing my woolly scarf. But I have managed to resist the urge (at least so far…) to break out my woolly gloves and hat 😉
Sea temperature is beginning to fall slightly – around 15 degrees (59f).
But then – selvfølgelig – by the time we reach the afternoon, it’s all change and full steam ahead for the thermometer. The sun is shining from a cloudless, beautiful, blue sky and you start peeling off all the layers you put on a few hours earlier, swap your socks and shoes for some strappy sandals and then head down to the coast (like everyone else it seems) in an effort to cool off. Yes, you know you’re in Denmark when it can prove difficult to find a parking space…for your bike!
My friends and I were lamenting the end of Danish summer but trying to console ourselves with the thought off all that cosy, autumn Danish hygge that lies ahead. The apple cakes, the hot chocolate, the walks in the deer forest to gather chestnuts, the flickering candles. And then we stopped short. Because, um, well we actually light candles all year round. Even in high summer. Here I am in a restaurant with my son last week. Candles lit in the windows. Candles lit outside on the street. It was 25c (77f) that day!
Those are my sunglasses in front of the candle on the table. Sunglasses and candles. Welcome to Denmark!
Yes, yes, my friends and I said to ourselves. We’re looking forward to Danish autumn and lighting even more candles!
Now where did I put those matches?
Have a terrific Tuesday!
Today, I reach back into my blog archives. It is special posting for a number of reasons: it was among my first postings (Sept. 6, 2012) on my first visit to Denmark. Also, I traced the exact place where 14-year-old Hans Christian Andersen first stayed after arriving in København. Now, 197 years later, it is a beer hall or tavern.
Heidi’s Beir Hus in København where a lodging house once stood and none other than Hans Christian Andersen stayed as a 14-year-old from Odense, Denmark.
Scott Larsen photo 9/6/2012
Heidi’s Beir Hus, 18 Vestergade, Copenhagen, is the location where Hans Christian Andersen first lived after he moved to Copenhagen as a 14-year-old boy. This photograph was taken exactly 193 to the day – Sept. 06, 2012 – when Andersen moved to the city. Gardengården was the name of the inn where Andersen lived. It would be the first of many places Andersen would call home.
Months and months ago, when this writer discovered the first location where Hans Christian Andersen – H. C. Andersen in Denmark – lived, I knew I had to visit the site.
It’s located on Vestergade, one block off the busy pedestrian street of Støget. Through the miracle of technology, I found the spot, with help of my new Danish ‘ven’ (friend), Nicolai, a Copenhagen theatre historian, on Goggle Street. But there was something missing: there was no sign or plaque.
Perhaps it is because the building where Andersen lived in for the first couple of weeks in Copenhagen no longer stands. It was the Gardergården inn that once stood here.
Today, people in their 20’s who visit Heidi’s are perhaps unaware they are at one of the most historic locations from the city’s 19th Century. Unaware that here a shy 14-year-old Andersen from Odense first called it home after moving to Copenhagen. It would last only a couple of weeks. But would begin a life of living in place after place through the kindness and generosity of others up until he took his last breath in August, 1875.
There once was a joke that throughout the East Coast of the U.S. there are signs everywhere stating, “George Washington Slept Here.” The general of the army of the ragged-tagged colonists who sought independence from then world power Great Britain. His leadership – and winning the U.S. Revolutionary War – catapulted him into becoming the fledging nation’s first president.
That is why it is troubling for a city so proud of unarguably the most famous man in Danish literature, there isn’t a sign or a plaque at the first place H.C. Andersen lied down his head and slept.
If this writer could inspire others in Copenhagen to work to see a such a sign made, then I would feel I made a small part in contributing to Copenhagen’s historical and cultural. My name doesn’t need to be attached or known for this simple yet meaningful gesture. Having the sign would be enough.
Maybe a future college student standing outside Heidi’s having a smoke or a brew would then see this new sign, walk closer, and read it. About a boy from Odense who would go on to change Danish literature and children’s literature worldwide.
It would begin, “Hans Christian Andersen, a shy 14-year-old boy from Odense, lived at the Gardergården inn that once stood here after he moved to Copenhagen on Sept. 06, 1819…”