fbpx
Browsing Tag

copenhagen

Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Private-equity pastry and the decline of bodegas: How Denmark is changing


 

I help out at a flea market sometimes near Copenhagen, a flea market that’s held a few times a year to benefit my daughter’s marching band. We sell things people have sent for recycling – at the local recycling center, you can put things that are still useful in a special room, and then community groups sort through those things and sell them to raise money.

We have one persistent problem: too many shotglasses. Each new week brings dozens of beautiful crystal shotglasses, prized for a lifetime by someone from the older generation, perhaps now the dead generation. These people to used to drink clear snaps before fancy Easter lunches, and or a dark bitter alcohol called Gammel Dansk before breakfast.

People in Denmark don’t do that much any more. They go jogging before breakfast and drink wine for holiday lunches, if they drink anything.

And most young people already have a set of grandpa’s old shotglasses gathering dust somewhere at the back of a cabinet, and they don’t need any more.

So week after week, these lovely little etched crystal glasses line up like fragile soldiers on the storage shelves at the flea market. Nobody needs them, nobody buys them, but we just don’t have the heart to throw them out.

Continue Reading

Books, Stories about life in Denmark

Get your ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book at the Statens Museum for Kunst / Danish National Gallery

I do a lot of writing in the lovely, sunny cafe at the Statens Museum for Kunst, otherwise known as the Danish National Gallery.

This museum is free to the public and has a great collection of both historic and contemporary art.

Now I’m excited to say that you can get a paperback copy of the ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book in English at the Statens Museum for Kunst gift shop.

You can also buy a copy of the book at the shop at Denmark’s National Museum, at the Politiken Bookstore on Radhuspladsen, or at Made in Denmark on Brolæggergade 8. It can also be special-ordered from any bookstore in Denmark, although you may have to wait a couple of weeks. It’s also available in Aarhus at Stakbogladen near the university.

Not in Denmark? You can get the How to Live in Denmark Book sent anywhere in the world, or download the How to Live in Denmark eBook right now!

Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Danes and Fear: What is there to be afraid of in Denmark?

 
I was walking towards my home in Copenhagen the other day, when I walked past a kindergarten. It had a big, open playground with lots things for the kids to climb on, but nobody was climbing. The kids were all gathered around a giant, open bonfire. Now, these kids were 3 to 5 years old, and the flames of the bonfire were probably twice as tall as they were. But there was no restraining fence or barrier to keep them away from it. Just a couple of adults and some pails of water.

Big open fires, which are called bål, are pretty common in Denmark, even around children. Sometimes the kids even roast little pieces of bread over the fire, or rather, a long piece of dough curled around a stick. Snobrød, it’s called. Kids grow up learning not to be afraid of fire. Maybe that’s a legacy of Denmark being such a cold country; fires were once very important to staying alive.

Even at Tivoli in the winter, you’ll see open containers of flaming hot coals – you know, the sort of things you usually see in depictions of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. But at Tivoli Danish parents are carefully showing their children how to warm their little fingers over the hot coals. No fear.

Continue Reading

National Museum of Denmark shop book
Books, Stories about life in Denmark

Get your ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book at the National Museum of Denmark

Stop by the shop at Danmarks Nationamuseet /The National Museum of Denmark to get a paperback copy of the ‘How To Live in Denmark’ book in English or Chinese.

Denmark’s National Museum is located in downtown Copenhagen, and it’s got a great collection of Viking artifacts as well as a wonderful kids section where kids can dress up as Vikings and ride in a play Viking ship.

You can also buy a copy of the book at the Politiken Bookstore on Radhuspladsen, or at Made in Denmark on Brolæggergade 8. It can also be special-ordered from any bookstore in Denmark, although you may have to wait a couple of weeks.

Not in Denmark? You can get the How to Live in Denmark Book sent anywhere in the world, or download the How to Live in Denmark eBook right now!

Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Danish Stereotypes: Copenhagen snobs and ‘peasant butts’ from Jylland

Danes have stereotypes about each other, something that amazed me when I first arrived here. You have five and a half million people, and you’re dividing yourselves into groups!

But Danes themselves imagine a big difference between people from Sjelland, the island with Copenhagen on it, and Jylland, the bigger part of Denmark that is connected to Germany.

As the stereotype goes, people from Jylland are seen as quiet, reliable, trustworthy, and likely to marry young and start families soon after. They have distinctive and sometimes impenetrable accents, particularly the ones from Sonderjylland, near the German border. ‘Jyske’ people love the Royal Family and are much more likely to serve in the army or the police forces.

And people from Jylland are also sometimes seen as stubborn and very tight with money. They want to drive a hard bargain.

I can testify that there is some truth to this. I occasionally sell my daughter’s outgrown clothes and toys on the Den Blå Avis, Denmark’s version of eBay, and I’ve almost stopped selling to buyers in Jylland.

First, they want a discount, then they want me to arrange the cheapest shipping possible in a manner that causes me the greatest amount of bother. When the object arrives, they inevitably find some small flaw and want all their money back.

All this for items that cost less than 100 kroner, often less than 50 kroner. I think the thrill of the getting a better deal matters more than the few kroner they save.

But maybe they’re just responding to the stereotype about people from Copenhagen, which is that they look down on Jylland’s bonderøve – literally, ‘peasant butts’ – and do their best to cheat them out of their hard-earned money.

I don’t know if there are many actual Danish cheaters on the streets of Copenhagen these days – I think pickpocketing and fraud games have been outsourced to poverty-stricken  immigrants – but people from Copenhagen are still seen as slick and slightly dishonest.

From the Jyske point of view, Danes from Copenhagen are Københavnersnuder – Copenhagen snouts, who are smart-asses, fast-talkers, and prone to exaggeration. Everything in Copenhagen is, in their eyes, the biggest and the best in Denmark. Kobenhavnersnuder wear odd, overpriced eyeglasses, and the men wear Hugo Boss suits.

Kobenhavnersnuder have jobs that are non-jobs, like Senior Communications Consultant or B-to-B SEO specialist. By comparison, people from Jylland have real jobs – like pig farmer, or Lego designer.

Of course, there are so many people from Jylland living in Copenhagen these days that the stereotypes have started to dissipate a bit.

As Denmark becomes a more international country, maybe that will happen with national stereotypes as well.

Kay Xander Mellish books

Buy Kay’s books about Denmark on Amazon, Saxo, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, or via our webshop.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2022

Read also: Denmark is not just Copenhagen: Exploring the Danish countryside

Stories about life in Denmark

A thatched roof over your head: Finding a place to live in Denmark

Before I moved to Denmark, I didn’t know what a thatcher was.

Of course, I had heard of Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister. But a thatcher – as a job like a carpenter, or a massage therapist – this was something I was not familiar with.

A thatcher, I now know, is a person who makes a thatched roof. A straw roof, basically. There are thousands of thatched roofs in Denmark, and they’re actually very practical for the climate, very environmentally friendly. They keep the heat in and the rain out.

If you want to live in a house with a thatched roof in Denmark, you probably can. A lot of them are vacant, because they tend to be located on farms in the countryside.

You, on the other hand, will probably want to live in a city somewhere – Copenhagen, or Aarhus, or Bilund if you work for Lego.

Beautiful but uncomfortable chairs
The bigger the city, the harder it will be for you to find a place to live. Or at least, a reasonably-priced place to live.

Danes like to buy their homes, because they can deduct the mortgage interest from their taxes.

But if you want to rent, there are two options.

Continue Reading