We are the happiest people on Earth but what does that mean? Does it mean that we smile to each other when we pass on the street? Or does it mean that we are rich? What does it mean? Is it a beautiful country that makes people happy? A small country with long winters and short summers, with no hot deserts or blue lagoons. Denmark. A small country in Scandinavia surrounded by Germany, Sweden, Norway and Great Britain.
Hi! My name is Chelina and through my seventeen years, I have lived in Denmark. Most people think of either Copenhagen or Skagen, also known as The Scaw, if they hear about Denmark, I live nearby Skagen in a small town called Sæby. I have been living here since I turned three, so that is almost fourteen years. When you live in Denmark, you have to be open-minded because of the cultural differences. Denmark has been a very Christian country but religion is not that important anymore. Once upon a time, a few years ago, I was very Christian – I actually chose to read the Bible – But suddenly, it changed. Now I am an Atheist but that does not change the fact that I celebrate Christmas and Easter and I am pretty sure that many Danish people feel the same way as I do. Through the years Denmark has opened up for immigrants and that became big in the 1950-60 because Denmark needed workers. It was a win-win situation but since then it has caused a lot of complications. This is also why I, as a Danish citizen, need to be open-minded. Denmark has become very multicultural which is seen more in the big cities, Copenhagen and Aarhus for example, than in the small towns.
Danish people are often seen as Vikings and there is a good reason for that. Between the Prehistory and the Middle Ages was a time called the Viking Ages. The Viking Ages were from the 8th to the 10th century and at that time the Danes were known as Vikings. Some people compare Danes to Vikings because of the cold weather and because some Danes like to bath in the sea in the winter – Which doesn’t include me, I hate being cold! The Danish Vikings caused havoc in the British Isles and France, they also conquered some parts of England, today known as Danelaw. This was all done by a great Viking called Svend Tveskæg (Sweyn Forkbeard) in 1013. The year 1066 is also known as the year when the Viking ages stopped for real and a new time began. The Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, Denmark also had the geographic places called Skåne, Schleswig and Holstein.This was also the time where Denmark, Norway and Sweden made a personal union, even though Sweden broke off and re-conquered a lot of times. The union was united around 125 years and ended in 1523. The Middle Ages was the time where the Protestant Reformation reached Denmark which made Denmark convert to Lutheranism in 1536, which also was the year where Denmark and Norway entered a new union together. Through the years there has been a lot of conflicts and today there is no union but we still have a bound that can’t be broken. And that also includes Sweden!
From late 16th century to early 17th century, Denmark had a king called Christian IV. He was a very famous king and he is still very famous for building some of Denmark’s most beautiful buildings. For example Kronborg and a lot of the beautiful buildings in Copenhagen. He died in 1648.
Denmark had been going through a long time with absolute monarchy but 5th June 1849, Denmark made the Act of Constitution which lead Denmark to Democracy. A very big step for Denmark. But it was a long journey, because Denmark did not have equal rights between status and sex. Later, this lead to loads of discussion because everyone wanted a voice. Denmark was one of the first countries where women had the right to vote, which happened in 1908. There has been a lot of discussions about that subject since, because the women wanted to work. That changed about 1950 when a lot of women got a job and made money just like their husbands.
The two world wars. What did Denmark do? In World War 1, Denmark was pretty neutral. With that been told, we were actually trading with both sides. But through World War 2, Denmark was occupied by the Nazis and about 3000 Danes died. I’ve heard stories from my grandmother about her grandfather which is very exciting. He helped an English pilot who had crashed on a field nearby. While the Germans lived in his basement, the English pilot lived on his loft. It was a giant risk to take but he helped the English pilot with escaping to Sweden.A few years after, he received a letter from the pilot, with a picture of him and his wife. Family stories! She also told me that she used to look out of the window and observe the night sky and the bomb plains.
3. Geography and People
As told, Denmark has become a very open country. People travel a long way to visit Denmark and maybe to become a Danish citizen. And they are welcome!
Denmark is a small country, it only takes about four hours to get from The Scaw to Germany which is the country closest to Denmark. Actually it is our neighbor-country! Oh, and when we talk about the length of Denmark, we can also talk about the height because that is pretty much absent. We have not got high mountains and stuff like that, we have got hills and that is pretty much it. I guess that is what makes Denmark such a charming country, besides the accents and Bornholm. I actually forgot to tell you about Bornholm which is an island that has belonged to for example Sweden, which is why the Danish accent is so weird over there. But Bornholm is just amazing, I just love the nature over there and when it rains, it is absolutely amazing.
Let me tell you something about the Danish culture! There is no English word for the most fundamental thing in the Danish culture, which is a thing called “hygge”. If I should describe it for you, it would be like a relaxing day either with your friends or your family or maybe you just need a day off to chill with your television or something like that. You see this in every Danish city, you actually can’t avoid it! And remember, YOU decide what “hygge” is for you!
Copenhagen is the biggest city in Denmark, that is also why it is our capital. With a population about two million citizens it is also clear that it is a very big city. I mean, the total population in Denmark is about 5,6 million citizens and Copenhagen’s population is a third part of that number of citizens. It is a great city with great opportunities and that is also why a lot of young people choose to move to Copenhagen, it is easier to get a job. With that been told, Copenhagen is also the city with many immigrants compared to Jutland for example.
1. The Little Mermaid:
Hans Christian Andersen, the famous and Danish author from the 19th century, wrote a story about The Little Mermaid. The statue was done in 1913 and now the bronze statue has its place in Copenhagen. It is a very famous attraction in Denmark and people gather to see it, both Danes and tourists. A lot of Danes are very proud of the statue!
2. Roskilde festival
In Denmark we have got this giant festival, starting in the end of June each year. It is a very popular festival and more than 100.000 thousands participate in this festival each year. At the festival there are the orange scene which is where the biggest artists of the festival get to play. This year, 2013, it was for example Rihanna and Metallica who blew away the audience.
If you have kids or sisters, Copenhagen Tivoli is the place for you. In my opinion, Copenhagen Tivoli is not that fun. It is more a place where you enjoy a day with your family, not a place where you are with your friends. It is a beautiful place with loads of lights and a lot of amazing decorations. And well, I can say good for the Chinese Restaurant, it was really tasty!
So, it is expensive but it is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life!
4. Fårup Sommerland
Then we reached my part of Denmark! North Jutland. Through my almost seventeen years I have lived in North Jutland in fourteen of them. Fårup Sommerland is a park, a bit like Tivoli but better. It is bigger and it has a lot for all ages which is great. I used to come here every year and I hope I will go this year too.
This is a place where you hang out with friends but it is great to go there with the family too.
Legoland is well-known park all over the world. That is also why this park deserves a visit! It was build in 1968 and it was the first Legoland park in the world. It is a great day out with family and it is very nice and super beautiful!I hate playing with Lego but this park is super amazing and I still love it! I was there with my dad’s family when I was little and I only remembered this Lego fountain in the beginning of the park.
Throughout the years, Christiana has been discussed allover Denmark even though it is placed in Copenhagen, why? Because it is a place where a lot of young people buy cannabis and drugs which is illegal in Denmark. Actually cannabis was tolerated until 2004 and since then it has been more and more discussed. It is actually a very beautiful and harmonic place, I’ve heard. I’ve never been there but it looks amazing!
7. The Old Town
This place is probably the most beautiful place to be during December and Christmas. It has such an amazing spirit even though it is cold and the weather is snowy. You can go from shop to shop and see how they lived back in the ages. As you can tell, I’ve been there and yes, I love it! I love old things and original things. Well, The Old Town in Århus is something special and it is absolutely worth a visit. (Or two!)
8. The Scaw
The top of Denmark! Where Kattegat and Skagerrak meet each other at Grenen which is the place shown on the picture. Even though I’ve been there loads of times, I still get amazed by it every single time I see it. It’s often a bit windy up there but it is so awesome to see, that you pretty much forget about the wind because you enjoy the sight so much!
I thought this place would be really boring when I heard about it the first time, but then I visited it and it is so beautiful! I was actually shocked over this place, I saw the beautiful graves and watched the beautiful place from the inside and it was worth it. Oh, and not to mention, it is free if you are under 18!
10. The Round Tower
There is a bit history about this place. It was built by the Danish King Christian IV and has been an icon of Copenhagen since 1642 which is many years ago. Today it is partly used as a tourist attraction but it is also known as being an observation tower. The Round Tower is built so you can come to the top on horseback which Peter The Great did in 1716.
You should visit The Round Tower if you want to have a great view of Copenhagen from the top!
I will start with telling you about Danish sports and with that been told I want to warn you, I don’t know anything about sport.Our national sport is football but I am not really sure if we are good at it, but I know that we won the European Championship in Sweden 1992 and that was a great celebration! We love football in Denmark and we go crazy when something good happens for Denmark in a match.
When we talk about tennis, I guess you will recognize this name; Caroline Wozniacki. She has been no. 1 on the WTA tour through 67 weeks. Andin speedway racing, Denmark won the world cup 2006 and 2008.
And now, to my favorite sport of all,handball!I actually played this a few years myself. In my personal opinion I think it is more fun to watch the men play than the women. I don‘t really know why but they are moreaggressive and that makes itreallyexciting. Enough aboutmy opinions on this one and back to themedals!Denmark, the men,has won five medals through the European Championship, two gold medals andthreebronze medals.
Oh, I just realized that I forgot something important. Do you love cycling and Tour De France? I don’t, but that is just me. Bjarne Riis, a Danish rider who won TourDe France in 1996, is just one of the Tour De France riders who has been usingdoping. It is cheat and it is unfair, but it happened unfortunately.
If we talk about the art instead, it is a another case. I don’t know a lot about art but I know a lot about music, which is an art form of course! If you didn’t know it before, you will get to know it now.The drummer in Metallica is actually a Dane and he is called Lars Ulrich and he has become the first Daneon the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. I guess you all know the catchy song about Barbie and Ken which is a song made by the famous and Danish band, Aqua. It is probably the most known, Danish band all around the world. Not to mention Dúné, Kashmir and Landwhich is some bands that I like a lot.
And again, I forget something important, Forbrydelsen! Also known as The Killing. I don’t know a lot about the serial but I know it is known a lot of places over the world.And besides that we had this serial called Borgen which was a politician serial based on Danish politics.
Denmark is a country of equality. Which is seen when you take a look into the women’s fight for equality. But homosexuality has been a giant subject all over the world through the years and in 2012, same-sex marriage became legal in Denmark. Also, homosexual couples are allowed to adopt children and thatbecamelegalin 2009.Thereisstill a lot of discussion aboutthis subject and somehomosexuals experiencealot of bad things.
Danish food! Yes! We have this food called “smørrebrød” and yes, it is indeed delicious. It is often served with “rugbrød” and with a lot of topping, I find it really delicious as you can hear. Danish people miss the “rugbrød” when they area broad or on holiday, mostly because it is almost impossible to find other places in the world.
As told in the introduction, Denmark is known as having the happiest people on earth. This makes me feel very confused because I hear about all the suffering in families and mental problem among young people and workers. Denmark is a lucky country because we have a great education system (It IS actually free to get an education in Denmark) and we have a great healthcare but besides that we have very high taxes. In my opinion that doesn’t matter because that is what makes our prosperity system work properly. A girl asked me if it is true that the government gives money to children turned sixteen just so they can get more independent and start working. No. That is not true. But there is something about it! In Denmark you can start working when you are thirteen, it is a bad job and I would hate the job if it was me! But when you turn fifteen you can get the good jobs. I do dishes in a café now and I have been doing that fora year and well, that is an amazing job and I love it. But you don’t get paid by the government. This happens when you turn eighteen and you are a student at an education, for example the gymnasium. A Danish student who has turned eighteen can choose to get something called SU which is a sum of money you get the 1st every month. The correct sum of money is different from person to person. By the way. you can also get your driving license when you turn eighteen. As a Danish in a girl I always hear about the stereotype. Blond hair, blue eyes and pale skin. The Scandinavian stereotype. At some points I agree,there is a lot of blond hair-blue eyes types but there is also a lot of other types. We are not only blond hair and blue eyes types, there are so many types and everyone looks different (Almost, some are twins, no big difference about that).
A few years ago there was a lot of drama in Denmark about some drawings picturing the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his hat. The drawer (Kurt Vestergaard) used his freedom of expression but he was still hated on. It coursed that some Muslims chose to burn the Danish flag because they felt that Denmark had stepped on their religion. Just to make it clear, that was not the intention! I don’t like to write about religions, so I will keep my hands of that subject – It is always a touchy subject. It was a giant conflict and I hope that we can talk it out sometime.