To the north of Germany, and west of Sweden, lies the small Scandinavian country of Denmark. Here are five interesting tidbits about this Nordic country.
Please and thank you are not in the Danish vocabulary
The Danes are very polite people, but it’s difficult to know that if you communicate in English. There’s no such thing as small talk, so when you get into a taxi and ask the driver how he’s doing, he’ll likely stare at you blankly. There’s also no word for “please” in the Danish language, so conversations can seem a bit abrupt. Over a lovely Danish meal, you might be asked by someone you just met to “pass the potatoes” without the common pleasantries that North Americans are accustomed to hearing sprinkled in at the beginning and end.
Hans Christian Andersen’s quirky habit
Remember The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Girl or The Ugly Duckling? Hans Christian Andersen is most known in Canada for these English language children’s stories, but in Denmark, you learn about his unusual habit. In 1857, one of his best friends, Henriette Wulff, died in a ship fire. It’s said she could have been rescued if she had been carrying rope. After that, Hans carried rope with him everywhere he went, whether it was the local pub or a stroll in the gardens…just in case.
LEGO was founded in Denmark
Thought Scandinavian design only included IKEA? Practical design also runs in the blood of the Danes. Examples of Danish designs include LEGO, the Rabo Trike (tricycle), GUBI chair, Kompan’s Hen, and the strange Washing-up Bowl, all of which are are featured at the Danish Design Centre in Copenhagen.
Denmark is home to the Tollund Man
Åarhus is the second largest city in Denmark following Copenhagen and is connected by a 3.25 hour train ride. It’s worth the trip because Åarhus is home to the best-preserved bog person in the world. This man, found in the Danish village of Grauballe in 1952, lived 2,000 years ago and has been preserved in the most astonishing way: not a skeleton, but an almost-flesh body complete with red hair, facial stubble and nails. The spooky man is enclosed in a glass case at the Moesgård Museum and is visited by over 160,000 people per year.
They’re the happiest people on Earth
It’s official: the Danes are the happiest people on Earth. Two universities – The Erasmus University of Rotterdam and the University of Leicester – polled hundreds of thousands of people worldwide for the World Database of Happiness and found that the people of Denmark have the overall best well-being. (Canada ranked number 10.) You’ll find it in your daily interaction with them. The Danes may pay arguably the highest income tax rates in the world, but they find pleasure in other aspects of life, like their simple and wholehearted respect for the Royal Family, their discipline to following of rules (no jaywalking!), and their firm assertion that there’s no such thing as decaf coffee.