"Hvad hedder det?

Unfair, Unbalanced, Unauthorized

& Incomplete guide to


Understanding

the Danes








Peter Frensdorf













I wish you a Happy Denmark!


II Culture Club


III Danish History


IV Hvad hedder det?


V Janteloven


VI Unspecified Denmark


VII How to survive getting married

in Denmark


VIII Baby in the house!


IX The Kingdom of Denmark


X Friheden





Copyright © 2019-2022Peter Frensdorf

All rights reserved by the author. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.












I

wish you a Happy Denmark!

The map of Denmark resembles a sad face, shedding a tear or two, leaking from the nose down. Yet Danes are ranking among the happiest people on the planet, in spite of paying the h

We recognize Sexy Swedes, Nifty Norwegians, and Fickle Fins. But Danes, what do we know about them?

One could assume they are like the Dime-counting Dutch or Generous Germans.


But believe me;

citizens of Denmark are really something else...


I met my wife in Phoenix Arizona in 1988, a tall jubilant Danish strawberry blonde, filled with unbeatable optimism, bordering a surrealistic view on nearly all subjects. Fearless and self assured, the most wonderful companion anyone could wish for.

Nearly always in a good mood, her only resentment was towards her fellow Danes who:

"Made her piss boil!"

According to her, they were: "Small minded, insecure, always talking about themselves, knowing everything better without a hint of insight towards rest of the world!" But also ultra scared to look foolish and ignoring everything beyond their scope.

She would tell them about her traveling adventures, as young girl all alone coast to coast USA. They would interrupt her with the announcement that they had also been away, all the way to Copenhagen. Which is a 90 minute trip.


The first film we saw together was "Babettes Feast" (Babbette's Gæstebud). A must-see movie to understand Danish attitude.

Everyone's life was entangled with another in a sneaky way, hidden under seemingly perfect surface. Friendly religious folks living a simple life, barely dreaming of greater things, never attempting to obtain them. They fear the unknown, but will rather die than show it. Hidden ancient resentments become visible after enough fine wine and snaps.


I expected to drive to Kalundborg one day, a tiny settlement with one post office, combined store, asking everyone where the Hansens lived. I would eagerly be pointed into the right direction by the local storekeeper, who is also the postman.


Years later we moved to Denmark and I was hit with reality. Because had bought the farm. Almost...

We had become the proud owners of a large "4 lange gaard", a four-sided farmhouse north of Århus, a very prestigious building from 1750 with a large inner court.

From the large piece of land there was a seaview, it was a most mesmerizing deathtrap.

Wealth among Danish farmers was measured by how many sides a building had, and how many chimneys.

Just knowing a person, living in a house with three chimneys was something to brag about.

Our building had four and just like the Titanic, the last chimney was just for show. Which should have been a warning of things to come. From the moment we signed, this real estate investment of ours was already heading towards an invisible iceberg.


Yes, our dream of starting a luxury B&B soon turned into a dream, because that is what nightmares are made of.

It started with the building itself, before buying we wanted to know what state it was in.

Lucky for anyone but us, a family member happened to be some kind of building inspector so we hired him to check everything out before signing on the dotted line. After all it was an very old building, straw roofs and wooden structure. We were not at all qualified to judge the state it was in.


That turned out to be a strange day, as he just walked around aimlessly and spoke very little. Based on his silence, my wife and I both assumed that everything was as it should be.

Much later we found out that there were numerous things amiss but he had been too polite so say anything negative. Which happens to be very Danish.


He accepted our cash payment for his "services" very gladly, and we jumped in head first and as the saying goes: we bought the farm!


Then came the rebuilding part. The ceiling of the main house was too low, so the floors were ripped away, and we dug deep enough to place isolation and gain height. Without experience, we needed professional help.

According to Danish contractors there are Haves and Have-Nots. They are the latter and any foreigner with enough money to buy such a huge money pit must be the first.

HaveNots are entitled, moreover, they must wrangle money from the Haves in order to divide it more evenly.


Sharing is big in Denmark ever since the Vikings shared their wives with travelers. And maybe some bread and beer if they really had too much of it. Nowadays Danish workers used a fork to calculate expenses to rebuild everything to the standard that we desired.

I saw my hard earned banknotes fly towards five guestrooms with private bathrooms, two apartments, a restaurant seating fifty and meeting room. The place was perfect after a whole year of rebuilding and the bottom of our treasury chest had become painfully visible.

In other countries clients will be charged for working hours. In Denmark; from the moment they step out of their bed, thinking about work of that day. Driving to the place of work in such a hurry they forget some tools, equipment like thingy-dings for the whatchamacallit.

So shorty after arrival they would find these parts were of vital importance, usually drive off again, searching where it could be.

I had to direct traffic between contractors coming and leaving.

The Haves paid for every minute.


Plumbers charged two hours labor unpacking their tools and additional four to pack them in again.

All perfectly acceptable and fair.

Nobody should Have It better than others, Danes resent that whole heartily.


I was told by a motor rider how they were used to drive in between cars during traffic jams. They could do that without any problems, everywhere but at home. Their fellow Danes would open the car doors to prevent anyone from gaining such unfair advantage.

Paying the highest taxes for food and automobiles is not just accepted, it is part of life. The other side of the medal; everyone accepts black money.


I know a person working every day of the week without paying one krone income tax. Everyone knows about him, nothing is ever done about it.

It is perfectly normal to see contractors driving trucks and equipment around during weekends when everyone is free to work for cash. Sure, it is against the law. About as much as hash in Amsterdam.


From the moment you register a company and hire personal, presto! You've made their hit list. Expenses will fill your mailbox from all angles, at all times. Your trusted insurance company will charge you a Kings ransom to cover the straw roofs, which in case of damage will not be paid out because of their age. Not too old to pay for, mind you, but not covered.

A contractor placed a new roof on one minor part of the building which leaked more than the old one. When we waited with paying his bill until the problem was solved, he reported us immediately to the credit bureau as non payers. Silly us! The fact that his new roof kept on leaking did not mean that we were allowed to deny payment. If we did not pay we were reported to RKI, the credit union. Once listed there, nobody would thrust us anymore.

Kitchen staff demands triple pay on holidays, and wanted to be free weekends to be with their family.

One servant was sick (or her children) on average two or three days a week. She parked her car conveniently next to the entrance so she did not have to carry everything she stole too far. Simply everything that was not screwed to the floor or wall went missing. Pallets of sugar, salt, knifes, forks, food products. She stole for the stealing.


Another unexpected expense was water. We received water from our neighbor, the camping well. When we were getting ready to open for business the new owner told us in clear terms that if we did open, he would close off our water supply. That was more than I could handle after months of nonstop hard labor and expenses and my answer was equally harsh. The result was that we had to pay to be connected to the main water supply, a few kilometers away. A huge bill was added to the pile.


Upon opening our restaurant we had great success, parties were booked and we were often full in weekends.

On a specially busy day one servant could not come to work because he was in jail. When he did turn up he imitated Manuel from Fawlty Towers, took in people without reservation and tried to push others from their table, to place them elsewhere.

Meanwhile there is 25% VAT on food and we were told that class restaurants all were losing money, they are owned by large companies as flagship for their clients.


With money flying in all directions, I was getting worried, there was simply no end. For a previous Have to explain to everyone that they have now become HaveNots, is impossible. The Danish brain is too rigid to allow changes like that.


They assumed we had a money tree in the courtyard that we kicked and then cash was falling out. We kicked and kicked our feet swollen, to no avail.







II

Culture Club


I met my wife's grandparents, they are titled according to which parent they belong. So Mørfar (mothers father) and Farmør (fathers mother) and so on.

Mørfar happened to be a learned person without a hint of education.


Having been a farmer all his life, he valued himself as scholar, and scientist. The man had left the motherland twice, highly praised three day bus trips to Germany and England. There he studied the rest of the non-Danish world intensely.

All cultures on the planet where crystal clear to him after these extensive travels. However, the same could not be said for languages.


He was a short stocky fellow without any waist. Square-faced he narrowly eyeballed me with the appropriate amount of distrust that non-Danes deserve.

When my wife left the room I discovered his believe that Danish was the only language in existence, and all others spoke a sloppy dialect.

So if I did not understand him, it was because he did not speak loud enough or I was too dumb.

With a deep pleasant baritone he explained something he found funny, followed by a loud:

"Bahhaha!"

When I signaled that I did not understand him The Joke was repeated with raised volume. As far as professor Mørfar was concerned, foreigners were really ridiculous.

Mørfar and Mørmør, we once made the mistake of agreeing to have Christmas dinner with them. Once.

Food is for Danes more that a way to feed yourself, just like drinking has nothing to do with thirst. They eat, eat and eat and double that by drinking. A dinner can take up to six to eight hours, easily.


Mørfar got so excited by the view of the duck being served that he started sucking air loudly.

I did not understand this until one of his daughter hurried to cut of a leg (of the duck, not the grandfather) to bring it to his mouth.

He slurped the meat off the bone and part of his necktie with it. An appalling sight!


I had been raised to wait until everyone had been served before starting eating.

But this part of edikette is not big among Danes. People start eating when they have something on their plate that looks good to them. Viking table manners.


I have never experienced any Dane saying no to anything that I offered in food or drink. That word does not has earned a place when you get something for free.

"Would you like a turt with whipped cream gone sour last week?"

"Yes please!"

But in spite of lacking some table manners, politeness level in other area's is very high. They thank you for everything afterwards.

"Thanks for the drink!"

"Thanks for dinner."

And the next time you see them:

"Thanks for last time!"

Foreigners like myself - because nobody can ever become a Dane if you are not born that way - will always appear terribly impolite.


Picture this. Restaurants are expensive and service is lacking because Danes do not understand why one person should serve another. As we are all the same.

Boy has eaten and paid his bill, he gets up from the table saying: "Tak for måd!" (Thank you for the meal.)

Whereas the servant replies: "Well bekomme!" (You are welcome.)

Despite his signs of gratitude he leaves no tip because he also does not understand why one person should serve another.























III

Danish History


Hundreds of years ago, Viking warriors sailed the seven seas to attack decent hardworking people for making the mistake to be born as foreigners.

They raped our gold and stole our women. Which, as they found out, was the wrong way around. They sailed everywhere, we do not know exactly where to and neither did they at the time.

The explanation may lay in their huge alcohol consumption in the shape of beer and mead (honey based snaps). Because the water was so polluted they had to drink beer. They were forced to, see?


These days that excuse has watered down, as the water is fine, but you can still see Danes drinking beer from nine am onward, often even earlier. This should not surprise anyone. It used to be custom in factories to hand workers a beer or two during lunch break before they went back to work, gladly with heavy machinery. If they lost a limp or two, that was just deserving the term ulykke (accident). Meaning they just had been unlucky.

Which leads us to Danes being the happiest people on the planet. Could there be a link to their alcohol consumption? My view is that they were asked in the evening, after snaps for breakfast, a few beers for lunch, snaps again for dinner, then wine and a few beers in the bar. Ask Danes at eight in the morning and the outcome would be very different.



Instead of saying: "To your health!" as drinking toast they scream "Skål!" when lifting their 12 ounce trunks into the air. What does skål mean, you may wonder? Danish health wish maybe? You should not have asked.

It means Skull, because Vikings used to drink out of the skulls of their slain opponents.

I must be perfectly clear, this habit has gone out of fashion. When Danes wins a soccer match they do NOT drink champagne out of the skull of the losing team.

So let's put this rumor on ice, right next to the heads of defeated opponents.


Viewing Italians of today I wonder how they managed to rule their Roman empire, the same disappointment is a daily experience in Denmark.

Sure there are a few fierce looking males left, but the majority of Vikings today are tamed house fathers, and they all look alike.

Bjørn today sprouts a weakish beard (as psychologists will tell you is sign of insecurity) and has a rather pale look, his willpower broken down by the descendants of the females who should have been raped instead of brought home.

Because females rule in Denmark. The last splinter of resistance broken, the men must live by their rules.

Helga wants children and does not want to marry before knowing what kind of male she allowed into her house. Women have jobs, so men are no longer providers, just housemates to order around, share sperm and expenses with.


If you happen to see a married couple without children, they will hurry to explain why this strange event has taken place.

The rule is to have three or four kids, then after that lengthy test drive, they may or may not marry.

Helga want to see how the offspring matures before knowing of his seed was really good enough for her. Otherwise the marital commitment is too great.


Yet religion is extremely important. Everyone pays gladly church tax and on top of one visit for Christmas, all children are baptized and confirmed in church before receiving lavish presents. Nobody marries in city hall when there are still these fine churches standing.

The gifts the offspring receive for their confirmation (or nonfirmation for those who do not believe in God, only in presents) are staggering. Thousand kroner bills and Ipads are stacked on a table with the lesser gifts. Fathers should rent lavish limo's or Ferrari's to drive their kid home from church. Nothing is too expensive or too crazy.


Young Danish women are often very beautiful, with long blond hair and shapely bodies. After the first kid pops out all this changes. She cuts her hair short as a man and start wearing sensible clothes.


Perhaps because women are so fierce, male bonding is strong among Danes, and their initial rough bear-like embrace change into more caring, almost loving gesture after the first twenty drinks. By then they become quite incoherent and can be seen walking cheek to cheek and arm in arm.


Size is important. Some men are huge, my brother in law is so large that at our first meeting I was sitting down and hesitated if I should bother getting up to shake hands with him. I decided not to, because it hardly made any difference in the distance between us. I could envision him as Viking, turning a full grown wild boar over a roasting fire.

Danes like to celebrate everything; Påske (Eastern), Jule Frokost, (Christmas lunch, anytime before or after Christmas), Sankt Hans (Burning of Witches), Grundlovsdag (constitution), TreKongen (Three kings), February 2th The returning of the Light, The Queens Birthday, Store Bededag (Big Praying Day), Mortens Aften (The evening of Morten), Soldier Day, plus a few others.


Dishes must include Sild (marinated herring with curry, red wine or mustard dressing and hard boiled eggs), Graved Laks (marinaded raw salmon), Tarteletter (pasty with chicken and aspergus from a tin, may not be fresh!), flæskesteg (roast pig back), frikandeller (pork meatballs), svinemørbra (pork filet), Sylte (corned beef but beef replace by pork), Gammele Ole (very smelly cheese matured in old Ole's socks, a man not known for fanatic use of water and soap).

Served with white bread, sliced bell peppers, and tandsmør (butter smeared so thick that you can see clear teeth marks after every bite. More cheeses with grapes.

Then it is time for a filling dessert: Risalamande (rice cooked to pulp in milk, mixed with whipped cream and with warm cherry sauce).


They sit down to eat for hours on end, drinking strong beers and ales with a wide assortment of snaps. Snaps, where to begin? Anything forty to eighty percent alcohol made from potatoes, different berries, many different ones that are supposed to consume ice freezing cold or it will burn your throat. Rarely this happens, they serve at room temperature so only real Danes can drink it. Others just die of natural causes.

When the feast is over they sit down more comfortably for coffee and layercake.

Before anyone eats cake they must first devour warm white rolls with tandsmør because otherwise they eat too much cake.


On Christmas Eve everyone carries the decorated tree to the middle of the room to light a real candle fire hazard. Then the whole family, also Gammele Ole, goes hand in hand dancing around the tree, singing songs about how expensive Christmas is.

Singing is not reserved to the few with a decent voice, nor restricted to privacy inside the shower. Danes sing at all occasions and have songs for just about anything.

You cannot go to any party and expect to escape with ears intact, no. There comes this frightful moment that papers are handed out. Beware! This happens often unnoticed in a sneaky manner.

This is your signal to rush to the bathroom for a lengthy break.


To quote Tom Lerher; they find forty eight verses "On top of old Smokey" is twice as enjoyable as twenty four. It does not need to make sense, rhyme or even be singable. Often you see people singing with sad faces, going through the motions for the sake of the next person, who is just as sad. Singing is a must.

Then there must be speeches. Ticking with a knife against a glass, is indication that a person wants to share something with all guests that cannot be said between the speaker and the subject.


Of course this torture is not at all for the sake of the person that is celebrated, no. It is because the speaker dwells in the forced attention of everyone present.


Even the shyest Danes are in need of attention at these events, a well that never runs dry. Some strangers rather show their feelings in every day life towards the person in question. This has absolutely no value.


Names and faces. Picture me, looking bewildered at the mailbox of: "Preben and Bodil".

I regret never listening when people are introduced.

Now I was wrecking my brain, which was which?

I concluded that Preben sounded softer dan Bodil so Preben must be the mother and Bodil the father. Which happened to be 100% incorrect.

You will run into names like Njal, Aage, Roar, Aina, Aase, Ebbe, Egil, Ditte, Gunar, Einar, Ivar, Kåre, Jerrik, Gro and Toke, Gru, Sif. No wonder Danes look angry on old pictures.

Why do Antique Danes resemble

"The Hole in the Wall Gang" after being arrested?


Upset, a bit surprised and angry? True enough, there was not much to smile about. Life was hard.

You are unlikely to catch most Danes laughing hysterically at anything. Nothing seems funny enough. Mind you, there is a lot of very loud laughter to be heard when Danes meet their trusted friends, persons and alcohol, but not because funny things are happening. It is the nervous high pitched laughter of shedding insecurity. Pay attention, and you will notice the difference.


Money is unimportant. Let me rephrase that; money is very important. Both statements are true in Den Mark.

On the one hand they pretend money is just paper, meanwhile everything is ruled by cash.

My wife and I, after surviving the money pit are living by the sea on a large piece of land. It is a challenge to find anyone who does not ask us how much we paid for it. Everyone wants - needs to know;

"How much did you pay?"

We just build an annex: "What did that cost?"

Dancing around the truth may be the only remedie, there is no right answer.

Why is that so interesting? They are worried that one is spending more, making more money than anyone else. They want to know what the damage is.

Either you did not pay enough or you have too much money.

Spending their money remains a very scary roller coaster ride for Danes, who are now getting used to going out for dinner. But some twenty years ago on Malta food was so cheap, that one could eat dinner for less than ten dollars including wine.


Outside a restaurant stood a group finger pointing the menu to the greatest detail for a really long time. My wife; without hesitation: "Danes!"

And she was right. Mind you, my wife is always right and nothing can make me say otherwise.


For that reason Danes do not saddle their horse the day they are riding. Contemplation regarding penge (money) takes time, really a lot of time. We bought our house in Denmark within three days after seeing it. Paperwork took longer so about one month later we returned to take over the property.

Sitting in the sun, having a drink to celebrate we were interrupted by family of the neighbors. They came asking if the house was for sale.

"We just bought it."

The house had been on the market for months.

Taking quick decisions is impossible for Danes and they will only buy what they need at the time and nothing more.

Special offers: "Buy more and pay less" may work everywhere else, but not here.


Once again we find ourselves on the first row to the sea (første række) and again this brand marks us as Haves.

Cutting some trees will set us back either thirty thousand dollars or just four depending on the contractor. Some notice we do not drive Audi's or Mercedes, others just see we have two cars. No matter what needs to be done, we need to get 4-5 estimates because they always differ beyond decency and reason.


For instance we cannot hire a gardener who lives far away. He must first drive even further to collect rented equipment. Then to us. He will charge us for the time to drive, pickup, drive again to us, deliver things back and then home again. Plus for the rental fees, the precious hours in between that he is here, and may actually get some work done.

He is entitled to tell us afterwards that the rent was 3000 instead of 1000, and expect immediate payment without having proof for either amount. Fair is fair!


By the way, anytime you pay for something, and money changes hands, the Danes do not sign for acceptance. No, they demand that YOU sign that you gave it to them.

There is no logic or attempt to cheat you, they just think the other way around. I tried explaining many times, they refuse to understand that they have the receipt and the money this way. So if you want to exchange cash, or deposit it in the bank, you cannot do it without signing first. Then you are standing and waiting while they are getting your cash, that you have already signed for as having accepted.









IV

Hvad hedder det?


Danes talk all the time because it cost nothing. They simply love to chat about everything without taking any position that may be challenged by others that may know better. Safe conversations about nothingness.

You will see these small gatherings blocking entrances of theater, museums and shopping malls, and of course everyone favorite, food stores.


Your dirty looks are wasted, because they cannot notice anything while speaking. That would be multi-tasking. You might as well expect them to lay eggs and fly at the same time. They can do neither.

Upon meeting they start blabbing about people you never met and do not wish to know, the dog of the neighbors, and the wild adventures of the nephew of the sister in law of the girlfriend she knew since childhood but recently moved away. How they are no longer in contact may be of interest to you.

Also on TV. They have long programs about music without a single note in them, just talking about people who make music and the ones who like to listen to what and why. Expect musicians to do anything else, like feeding their fish.

You may think that Nordic Fight-Night has something to do with boxing? No way! Expect hours of a wellchosen panel, talking about the noble art of self defense, interviews with people who know someone who has actually attended a match and they will tell how they liked it.

Warning. There may be short intermissions with two men actually inside the ring, just before or after the bout. We are not showing the fight because you did not buy a ticket.


The weater report is hardly about weater. They will show people who do something in the weater which is basically all of us. Expect a rollerskater, a sailor, or a farmer being interviewed. How was the weather yesterday? How about in India, or Brazil? If ten percent of the program is predicting, that part is usually untrustworthy. Yet the next day, they will announce just as optimistic what the future three weeks will bring us. By that time, everyone has long forgotten anyway.


These days they invite people to all news segments to explain how they feel about what is happening.

Schoolteachers are unhappy with their salary (løn) and go on strike. We ask Tina Maria Skytte Pedersen mother of Maria Tina Skytte Pedersen who is student in the school what she thinks of that.

You may notice that Danes rarely have just two names, just like singing, more is better. Men may be called Morten Jørgen Nielsen Mortensen and go by Mort, Jørg or Niels. The names seem to grow on length, five or six names are no longer rare.


Danes are so eager for gossip that several newspapers and magazine specialize in it, not unlike the UK. Big headlines with the wildest accusations, turning out to be hot air when you read further. Pictures of Danske celebs dressed up for some party or award ceremony but also regular people get page long specials in which they let you know that they have no life and no ideas.



Talking keeps the Danish language lively and it take no time for everyone to use the same wording.

Like using the dreaded: "Hvad hedder det?" (What is it called?) in nearly every sentence. The purpose of saying nothing is prevention. Because while you speak, nobody else may interrupt.

Variation: "Ellers, hvad de hedder..."

Even on TV, professionals who are called in to give expert advice on this, that or the other. Like this: "Dollaren er stigende, fordi <The dollar is on the rise, because> - Hvad hedder de - "uro i euroen." < unrest in the euro>." They ask viewers what it is called that they are talking about. We, of course do not know, we are waiting to hear from them.


Language is alive. When I was first in Denmark and hardly understood anything the running expression was "Discoflot". Everyone used it all the time and I wondered what disco they meant.

"De er så flot" (that is so beautiful).

My wife often got really upset having to translate everything for me.

Her father would give a speech of half an hour and when I asked what it was all about?

Her answer was a short irritated:

"Nothing!"

I was not amused at the time, she could at least tell me what he had been saying. Only now that I speak Danish myself I can see that she was absolutely right.

Because she is always right and

nothing will make me say otherwise.


However, Danes have trouble understanding dialects and only understand their own.

Which makes it very hard for foreigners to be understood.

Luckily the Danish language has some words in common with the Dutch.

Less lucky is that they often have a completely different meaning. Especially Dutch tourists will find out that misunderstanding is also a form of understanding:



Nat

Dutch: WET

Danish: NIGHT


Mis

Dutch: MISSED

Danish: CAT


Lukket

Dutch; LOKET (service window)

Danish: CLOSED


Brandmand

Dutch FIREFIGHTER

Danish JELLYFISH THAT STINGS


Ikke

Dutch ME

Danish NOT


Middag

Dutch: AFTERNOON

Danish: DINNER




Ballen

Dutch; BALLS

Danish; NAME OF SEVERAL TOWNS


Gammel

Dutch: FALLING APART

Danish: OLD (not quite the same)


Plat
Dutch: FLAT

Danish: LOW CLASS HUMOR


Platter

Dutch: EVEN MORE FLAT

Danish: DECORATED PLATE


Tanker

Dutch: TANKER (ship carrying fluids)

Danish: THOUGHS


Bil

Dutch: BUTTOCK

Danish: CAR


Bakken

Dutch; BAKING

Danish: HILLS


Knippen

Dutch: CUTTING

Danish: SEX ACT




Maling

Dutch expression: FOOLING (in de maling nemen)

Danish PAINT


Tang

Dutch: PLYERS

Danish: SEAWEED


Hotel

Dutch: PLACE WHERE YOU SPEND THE NIGHT

Danish: PLACE WHERE OTHERS SPEND THE NIGHT


Danes would much rather stay in prison than hotels because they are not presented with a hefty bill afterwards.

When arrest is out the question (lacking police) they sleep in houses of friends and family. On the couch or the floor is just fine, as long as it is free. Hotels are only for holidays abroad where you have no family or friends. And for foreign fools.


We have been charged a fortune for one night in Århus harbor. Very few other guests, but they wanted 1500 Danish kroner for one night, many years ago.

The hotel was simple and for the same price you could stay in Manhattan, this was an industrial area.

Having no alternatives we spend the night, at least until five in the morning when a ferry honked loud to make his arrival known to all. I guess we must make friends everywhere and sleep on their floor.


The town where we live has a police station with strange hours. They are only open at relaxed office hours. So criminal must abide to these days between 8.00 to 16.00 hours or it is not fair.

Otherwise it will take at least an hour for they to appear from the next office.


We also have an emergency hospital, of sorts. But we once made the mistake to just go there and ask for medical advice. As we found out, you must make an appointment beforehand. There are no nurses or doctors there! So if you expect an accident next week, make sure to contact them so they can have staff ready. Otherwise there will be nobody to help you.


Planteskøle: (plants go to school) a place where plants go to learn how to grow.


Danish pastry is called Wienerbrød in Denmark.


Hej-hej<hajhaj> is the most common greeting when leaving.


Boy and Girl-scouts are very prominent. People donate all sorts of goods which will be sold towards their travel expenses.


Tres is 60 in Danish. Halvtres (half of tres) is 50.


Hun-Lo is not a Chinese disk with chicken and peas. It means "She laughed"in Danish. I wrote a letter to the Queen to have this changed and I am waiting to hear from her any moment now.







V

Janteloven


Jantelovens 10 commandments:

  1. "Du skal ikke tro, du er noget."

    (You shall not believe that you are something.)

  2. "Du skal ikke tro, at du er lige så meget som os."

    (You shall not believe you are worth as much as us.)

  3. "Du skal ikke tro, at du er klogere end os."

    (You shall not believe that you are smarter than us.)

  4. "Du skal ikke bilde dig ind, at du er bedre end os."

    (You shall not believe that you are better than us.)

  5. "Du skal ikke tro, at du ved mere end os."

    (You shall not believe that you know more than us.)

  6. "Du skal ikke tro, at du er mere end os."

    (You shall not believe that you are more than us.)

  7. "Du skal ikke tro, at du dur til noget."

    (You shall not believe that you are good for something.)

  8. "Du skal ikke le ad os."

    (You shall not laugh at us.)

  9. "Du skal ikke tro, at nogen bryder sig om dig."

    (You shall not believe that someone likes you.)

  10. "Du skal ikke tro, at du kan lære os noget."

    (You shall not believe that you can teach us something.)



There is an 11th command:

11. Du tror måske ikke at jeg ved noget om dig? (You think maybe that I know something about you?)


This addition to 10th indicates that the author has some sense of humor, observing his fellow Danes. But it goes deeper. Envy that someone may be better off than others, is alive and kicking in Danish society.


In advertising, nobody in his right mind compares goods or services with others, saying that theirs is so much better. It would only anger viewers. They will not buy from someone breaking Jantesloven in such cruel manner. You may just hint that you are a little bit better, or cheaper than others.


The basics of Janteloven lays in the construction of the sentences dividing YOU from US. What Danes want you to know is that you are not and never will be one of us. What separates us can never be bridged.


I may have given the impression that Danes do not like foreigners. My excuses, hardly anything is further from the truth.

"A nice foreigner, roasted over an open fire..." No, there I go again, trying to be funny.


Danes have nothing against people from other countries. English is widely accepted as second language and we accept euro's from Germans who rent our summerhouses for any price, any time of the year.

There is nothing wrong with them or with me. I am just not a Dane, from Viking stock like Harold Blåtand, Toke Barnenumse or Torsten Rødnæse.

Some Danes proudly give their children only pure Danish names. Even if, like Doctor Dick, it makes it hard for them to travel.


And Danes enjoy traveling because the prices are lower in other countries. They also buy vacation homes in Greece, Spain, Italy, anywhere really. But no Greek, Spaniard or Italian or Dutch person should attempt to buy a summerhouse here.

This is Denmark, so only Danes are allowed to own them.


A far family member of Janteloven is that Danes avoid confrontation at any cost. If you remember the "expert" that did want to say anything negative about the farm we bought? He is anything but unusual. We took another specialist to see a boat, and he did not want to say anything at all. We asked, and asked again thinking that he misunderstood us. But no. We walked away without trying to buy and only when the seller was many miles out of hearing range, he told us what was wrong with it.

















VI

Unspecified Denmark


The Island of Samsø around lunchtime, we spot a small restaurant with a menu. No guests anywhere, because Danes eat at home like any normal person would. We are not normal and rather hungry.


On the menu: "Uspecificeret smørrebrød".

Smørrebrød, as you may know is the Danish variation of a sandwich, a single slice of dark bread, lavish stuffed with fish or meat.

My wife explains that the chef decides what you get, so while it was far from cheap, it was also a gamble.


In the Netherlands we eat sandwiches but we sure would not accept that another person decides what we eat, and we pay for it!

In the USA:

"What kind of bread, white, whole wheat, rye? Salad or cucumber? Unions? Mayo or butter? Toasted or fresh?" And that was after you picked what you wanted on your sandwich.

Imagine an American on this wonderful innocent island, looking at this menu.

We ended up asking that IF we would order, what did they think we would find on our plate? We paid extra for the lunch. Fair enough. Because it was not unspecified anymore.

Danes are notorious anti service minded. Many times we entered a restaurant only to find our way blocked by a servant demanding:

"Og du ønsker?" (And you want, what?)

The riddle what people could possibly want in a restaurant is clear. Maybe their vehicle was in need of new tires, perhaps they need dental care, or new eyeglasses. Then they had absolutely no business here. Waiters are in their right to be apprehensive and restrict entrance.

Afterwards they become a bit friendlier, and ask how I want to pay. My usual answer:

"With reluctance!"


Some restaurant are fine but I had more bad meals here than anywhere else. The reason is clear. Danes are not in the habit of complaining. Stores can sell rotten fruit nobody ever goes back to demand a refund.

Asking how you meal was means you must say that you liked it. If someone like me does not play ball, they get confused. There is no scenario for that option.

Some may ask details, others will just sigh and bring you the bill. Where-I garantee it, every item is listed. Complaining countries, you are likely to want to keep you happy and not charge for dishes. Not where they have DK on the numberplates.


HC Andersens: Kejserens nye klæder

Two dressmakers tell the emperor that only stupid incompetent people cannot see the fineness of his new treads, and everyone reacts by complementing nothingness because they are scared they are not good enough.... not just Danes' greatest fear. Separating the Emperor from his clothes is since 1873 very much alive.


Back to 1995, the beginning of Dogme.

These films could only come from Denmark. The idea was embraced by most movie experts because they too were afraid to be called stupid and incompetent.


Danish design means simplicity, leaving things out. If you like nothing on your walls, then you are halfway there. It cannot be too straigth forward, too simple. Really expensive hotels have brick walls in the hallways so you can appreciate what kind of nothingness money can buy. Note what is missing instead of what there is.

And if you are unable to do that, you are too stupid and incompetent!

Danes can give birth to a building, made of bricks?

Yep, we can.

Just like a person get born and celebrates birthdays, that is what Danish stores do. Expect flags on advertisement, Føtex has his (her) Fødseldag, so here are some special deals!

Fødsel literally means giving birth making it all even weirder. So someone at one time has given birth to... a shop.


Otherwise a smart spin because birthdays means the person gives something away, sweets or cake. In this case an excuse for you to purchase something.

Going out to a show, movie or theater is hit or miss with very little in between. Some amateur performances can be surprisingly decent, and some high billed shows absolutely awful.


Danes are great at making movies and music and are lousy at humor. The biggest comedians from the past were men dressed as women, always funny because they are men, not women at all. That is about the range of jokes, apart from theft.

There are many unfunny comedians either stealing jokes from other countries or just being very childlike silly.


According to Danes, pain and embarrassment are always funny. Which brings me to the wedding night.









VII

How to survive getting married

in Denmark


Danes are great pranksters, or so they think.

While you are busy getting ready for your perfect day, friends and family members are preparing to spoil your night.

At my first wedding experience, I was dumbfounded zombie walking behind the ones who loved the couple so much that they broke into their bedroom to make sure the bed is filled with itching powder, closet stuffed with balloons, making sure it is very warm OR cold, hiding underwear, shoes, toothpaste, anything to make their first night as husband and wife unbearable.


The day goes usually as planned, wedding takes place in the church and there will be lot of singing. Then a feast, dinner and wise advice from people you have never met before.

Danes feel so under cast in daily life that they embrace giving speeches because finally everyone is forced to listen to them. And of course the sneaking around with rolled up papers containing homegrown songs, stuffed with sentences that don't rhyme and Danish humor.

It is custom for the newlyweds to kiss when everyone stamps on the floor or rattles with utensils.

Sitting, standing, under the table and standing on the chairs, these are a must-do kiss moments.

At one time or another, while the groom leaves the room, all men run to kiss his new wife, then the bride leaves and the women do the same with the groom. These are funny habits.


More food, more skåls (one must drink when someone skåls with you) more speeches and many more songs.

The strict protocol of the festivities has not changed very much over the years.


By the time the clock nears midnight, the couple is finally released to the dance floor where the wedding march will be played. It starts out very lovely, they dance together surrounded by a circle of all guests, nearing them more and more.

It becomes crowded, then the bride is harshly pulled away and the groom will be attacked. His shoes removed, and often in a struggle they cut off the front part of his socks. Why? The reason makes no sense to anyone. It seems that it symbolizes that he now has a wife to perform sock repairs.


This ordeal must take place before the clock strikes twelve or the couple will get worse luck than is awaiting them already. Because everything possible has been accomplished to make sure they have an awful night. They leave the place running away from rain of hard thrown rice that stings where it hits. Rice throwing may not really be Danish, but the force that they use is very Viking-like.

One might think there would be ample reasons to dampen some of the terror in case that one of the newlyweds happens to be a foreigner.

And one would be wrong.


In case you succeed in remaining married, you will be in for more role playing after 25 years.

The day before the celebration all family members gather to hang up an extensive construction of branches and flowers around your front door. And the morning after at exactly seven in the morning, bright and early, they will start singing. You must, mind you: must appear after the first 24 songs in nightwear looking surprised and sleepy.

Everyone know this will take place, planned months or years beforehand, yet the couple does not expect anything.


Even the queen herself participates in this early wakening and acts like she did not expect a thing. Twenty five years later the exact same proceedings, still unexpected are repeated, just two hours later in the day. Because by then you will be far too old to get out of bed so early.









VIII

Baby in the house!


Driving on smaller roads, it won't take you long to notice these tiny three wheeler bikes parked at the entrance of houses, just everywhere!

It took me a long time to figure it out.

Ring on their doorbell to find out that there are zero kids living there. So why buy and park these tiny three-wheelers?


Is it like the shoe store in the past, showing the articles you are selling? Or buying?

Is this proof that pizza-gate is a true story?


Toddlers bought and sold here!?


The Danes often converse like Japanese, in an indirect fashion that foreigners fail to understands. This little bike, what do they mean? Every Dane is aware that their fellowman is saying that he thinks that you drive too fast on this small road. Instead of asking if you would drive slower they put out this sign that tiny Danes could be running out, , under your tires, anytime!

The problem with this thought is that everyone is doing it, and nobody believes it anymore.

So IF you have small children their life is in mortal danger all the time, even if you park their pride and joy outside day and night.


If you do not drive too fast, just ask anyone with clear exception of my mother-in-law. She started a conversation on this subject, of mini bikes parked everywhere. What did I think was the meaning of that? Instead of commenting that she would really like me to drive slower.





IX

The Kingdom of Denmark



Denmark has Queen Margrethe as ruler. She is extremely popular and travels around on her beautiful ship named Dannebrøg (Danish Flag).

It is a stunning white vessel with crew of about eighty serving and polishing 24/7. Their sleeping quarters are in rows of three above each other..

In a documentary her Majesty explains how hard her life is. She is often found sitting at the writing table after a stormy night when she did not get to sleep her full eighteen hours. There is a rumor that there are some rare photographs of her in private, without a cigarette between the lips. Collectors items, worth a premium.


Margrethe happens to be a notorious chain-smoker, I know a chef who had served her during a home party and she smoked herself all the way through dinner.

The popularity of this pastime has been declining a little based on the basis of unfounded rumors that it would be unhealthy. With the result that at official functions she has been forced to dampen her chimney.

Everyone in their right mind knows that smoking is really good for the lungs, as Sigmund Freud himself has said on many occasions before dying of lung cancer.


During days ashore the Queens grueling schedule includes waiving at taxpayers and shaking hands with officials, even accepting flowers. Tireless she steams from one island to another to stay in touch with her Danes, widespread as they are.

Kongeskibet Dannebrog, 80 meters long


As age and nicotine catches up with her, she found the trip to Faroe Islands too hard. True, the sea can be wild. So she decided to take the plane (I guess tourist class) to these islands. So the ship remains in port? Guess again! Plan was that Dannebrog would sail all the way, just like she was aboard, just to be parked there, so she would have a place to stay. Then she would wave from the deck to her taxpayers, jump on a plane to Denmark and later to Greenland, giving her ship time to get there first and repeat the charade. Fate got angry at this useless waste and the ship got pissed-off in both engines, so they had to turn back to Denmark to have it checked out. Adding to the queens long list of suffering.


Once she was interviewed by a young man who did not use the polite addressing, Upon which she stated that she was unaware that they went to school together.


Her husband Henrik, known as The Man Who Would be King, has passed away. Especially in his later years he complained to everyone who wanted to hear - as well as many that didn't - how terrible it was for him that he was only a prince. Being under-cast to his Queen wife was a torn in his inflated ego.


Denmark is a unusual country in many ways. It has hundreds of islands, many uninhabited and the capital city København itself is located on the island of Sealand. Ferries and bridges everywhere.

The Queen is getting on age wise so she leaves more of her tasks to her son, Frederik Tudeprins and his wife Mary Crown-savior.

Frederik Tudeprins owns his nickname to the fact that he cries a lot. Tude means crying. Before that he was known for his many girlfriends.

Once I saw a picture of him together with an underwear model, proudly on the beach. I assumed she would become Mrs. Tudeprins, a mistake that I shared with the girl in question. But no.

The girls on the other side are always greener.


In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a society beauty from that period that had not been sitting on the future crown jewels.


Frederik was such a busy boy that after he ran out of Danish girls, he married one from Tazmania. This cemented the notice that Danes were not good enough, Jantenloven again.

His mother before him had married Henrik the Frenchman, his younger brother Joachim (named after Donald Ducks rich uncle) first married Alexandra from Hong Kong after divorcing her, he remarried Marie from France. You do the math.

In the Netherlands Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her daughter in law Maxima from Argentine, to rule with faithful sidekick Willempie.


Margrethe refuses to do so, every Christmas we can see her on TV, fumbling trough a bunch of papers, telling taxpayers what they are doing wrong.

One year we had to be corrected regarding Danish standoffish attitude towards foreigners.

The queen herself has vast experiences with diplomats, presidents and royalty from abroad, who visit her castles on many occasions for formal dinners. None of them misbehaved in any serious way. Proving that our reluctance towards some newcomers had no basis so we should be reprimanted.


Every part of Denmark is slightly different, as are the people. On Sealand everyone talks fast, on Jutland every car has a trailer attached to earn more black money.

On the smaller islands everything is calmed down, and on Funen it always rains.

The Danish Flag is rumored to be the first in the world and is loved by everyone. It shows a white cross on red and is used for every celebration imaginable. You will see flags everywhere, especially during holidays and football matches as well as other disappointing events like funerals .


This Dannebrøg was rumored to fall mysteriously from the sky onto the battlefield all the way in Tallinn, when Danish forces were on the losing side once again. They never won wars, on account of their forced alcohol consumption. But the sudden appearance of the flag twisted the outcome of the battle, so goes the tale.


Denmark once included Norway and Sweden, parts of Russia nearly all the way to China as well as some Caribbean islands.

Especially giving up oil-rich Norway stings the poor Danes. I have from a reliable source that the minister who had to negotiate the borders of the waterways where the oilfields are located was pissing drunk when he signed. Norwegians knew there was oil and served a lavish dinner with drinks before talking business with him.


The losing battles resulted in changing borders with Germany all the time. The southern part of Jutland is constantly changing flags, so Danes who live there must read the newspapers to find out if they are Germans or Danes that day.


Not only HC Andersen was good at fairy tales. The Danes would like you to know that their King wore a Jewish star on his breast to show his alliance with the Jewish population. And that everyone was active in the resistance from the smallest child to old timers.


Nobody wanted to risk being misunderstood for being pro German which caused much activity.

The resistance never killed more people in two days of Liberation, May 4-5th 1945. Unfortunately, they were their own. The lust for gossip lead to rumors that the enemy, Nazi police named HIPO's and sympathizers where on the move. Without checking details an Odense group opened fire on their fellow resistance men, killing them.

One local paper reported proudly how the sneaky HIPO's in disguise had been unable to fool the cunning hero's. All over Denmark several groups were shooting at each other, before finding out that they were aiming at another resistance team.


King Christian X may have wished he had been brave enough to side with the less than eight thousand Danish Jews. But just like the princess and the pea it was all fantasy.


Proud as Danes are of the language, movies are usually not dubbed into Danish, but titles are. It makes it impossible for anyone to understand. So let's play:


Which movie are we watching tonight?1. Gøgereden

2. Elskede, jeg hader dig!

3.Håndlangerne

4. Vstens hårde halse

5.Jagten på den forsvundne skat

6. En verden udenfor

7. Ondskabens hotel

8. Et spørgsmål om ære

9. Den gode, den onde og den grusomme

10. Det bli'r ikke bedre

11. Manden der vidste for lidt

12. Jeg har aldrig fået noget.

Here is room for you to write your answers. I did the first four already


1 No idea

2 What?

3 Really?

4 You're joking, right?

And so on.

















You would never have guessed:

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

  2. One from the heart

  3. Reservoir Dogs

  4. Once Upon a Time in the West

  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark

  6. The Shawshank Redemption

  7. The shining

  8. A few good men

  9. The good, the Bad and the Ugly

  10. As good as it gets

  11. The Man Who Knew Too Little

  12. Losin' It

Are you still there? Now you have an idea how different the Danish language really is.







X

Friheden

Sex is quite acceptable, parents do not mind their young daughter bringing her beau home, let him spend the night or staying overnight at his place. I have never seen so much sexual freedom and I am born and raised in Amsterdam.

Youngsters are celebrating become student for a whole week. They wear a white hat with ribbon that indicated which study they are following. They are driven around on farmers wagons and open busses getting, pissing, pissing drunk. The group drives by the houses of every single student, drinking all the way. There get get more drinks at every single stop, so they lose a few persons here and there that cannot stand upright anymore and some have to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. All great fun supported by teachers and parents alike.

Typical Danish sight once yearly, teenagers, pissing drunk on proud display!


Danish youths are world champion in alcohol consumption and that does not always decrease very much with age. A celebration breakfast includes snaps, one or two small glasses of strong liquor. Around nine in the morning, what is better than a nice beer, served at room temperature? Because Danes swallow huge loads of alcoholic drinks, it is not unexpected that their driving leaves a lot to be desired. You will see many road signs battered into crash sites. Once in a while they are replaced and within a week or so, the same pattern is repeated.

A visit to København is not complete without thinning your wallet in the tourist trap named Tivoli. The full name (spelled fool) is Tivoli Friheden. Fri means free which is in dispute with the charge of hefty entrance fee. In order to do what exactly?

Well, there are rides that you have to pay for. And restaurants that you have to pay for, so of course you must pay entrance in order to do that.

Copenhagen is Denmark's lovely capital and to add a pleasure park in the center was a great idea. Yet with every footstep, you will be reminded you are only allowed inside to splash the cash.

Granted, there are free performances that sell out the place even more than normal. Prepare yourself to walk hand in hand and foot to foot with complete strangers. Remember that this park that was the example for Walt Disney's moneymaking machine.

Tivoli offers all the fun of Disneyland without M. Mouse, D. Duck but lots of Goofy. By the way, in the Netherlands Donald Duck is just Donald Duck. Not so. Here he is named Anders And with Rip, Rap and Rob as little ducks.

The Tivoli restaurants offer the worse service and lowest quality food for the highest prices. You cannot blame them, as they are forced to pay huge rent there.

A suggestion; go to the mountains of Bakken. Here parking cost money but entrance is free and there is an authentic Danish atmosphere.

Rides cost money and restaurants may be a bit on the expensive side but there is a small street based on the most famous Danish TV series in history: "Matador".

Actors play their part in between tourists which can be great fun. In a small place named "Bakkens Hvile" are the singing girls, pretending to be working the harbor joints with slightly dirty songs. In Danish of course.

Also very Danish is that they trigger listeners to buy them expensive drinks. These are served on a tray, they thank the giver, take one tiny sip and the tray is removed again. Soon they complain how thirsty they are, so another sucker can play big spender.

We cannot blame the Danish for Champagne Flushing because this originates in Sweden. Spoiled rotten kids came to show off how rich their parents are by ordering expensive champagne, only to let the waiter empty them in the sink. This "Sink it!" became fashion few years ago as sign how dual the money relationship is for Scandinavians.

Many years ago, there was man named Simon Spies, who owned a travel bureau. He always bought a seat for his walking stick whenever he went to the opera. Danes adore such foolishness because it is so over the top. He wore a long beard and hired pretty girls to take care of him in every which way. Like his bollen damen. Dames means ladies and the word bollen has a double meaning, it can mean a roll sandwich or a roll in the hay. In his case it meant both!

Another place to visit in on the mainland, in Århus. "Den Gamle By" (the old city). Here you will find buildings from seventeen hundreds to the nineteen sixties, also here and there actors pretending to live in that period.

When this becomes a serious information book on Denmark, I have gone too far.

Time to

END





In spite or because of all that is written I love living in Denmark. There is room and nature everywhere and the people are mostly friendly and willing to help with anything.

Nature is so strong here. Deere and hares, all sorts of birds and even the odd snake. Stones on the beach, are just like the population; rough, some ancient, all different in shape and color.

Moving them does not change anything.The next storm, all will be as it was before.

So are the Danes. No matter what happens, they may sometimes be shaken, never stirred.

Come to Denmark, you won't regret it! Especially after reading this little book full of lies.

Peter Frensdorf


©2021 Peter Frensdorf Peter@NegoLogic.com
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