No, it’s not just about the Lego…
So my lucky husband is in Denmark this week. And I can say that makes him one Jammy Bugger because every September, come rain or shine, off I would trot to fabulous Copenhagen to see my customers and sell them books.
‘But it’s cold and it’s dark and my elk burger was like a puddle of slush.’
He sends me the picture.
‘The berries look good!’ I reply, trying to infuse him with some positive vibes.
And then I remember. He’s a man. Wait. No. I’m not being sexist. Scandinavian men do statistically tend to be slightly more affected by S.A.D (aka lack of daylight), and it is November. Of course: The clocks will have gone back!
Still, I’m sticking with my version of Denmark. And these are 5 of the wonderful, wonderful things I think the Danes have done to teach the world to lighten the F up. My top 5 reasons the Danes are happy:
1) Play – The Danes have only given us the pre-cursor to all that is Disney!
Walt’s imagination had to be triggered by something, and the masterpiece that is Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, with its unashamed zoom lens focus on fun, fun and more fun, is where Mickey and Minnie became more than a twinkle in their creator’s eye… But the frolics don’t even stop there. Denmark has given the world Lego too! In fact those gorgeously hued bricks of fun are literally the amalgamation of two of my favourite words; ‘Leg’ and ‘Godt’. Or in English ‘Play’ and ‘Well’.
2) Hygge – If I try to pronounce it, I sound like a cat with a hairball in my mouth. So I won’t. But the Danish word for cosy is so much more than a mere word. Hygge in Denmark is a concept.
And hygge is BIG BUSINESS. Hygge exudes from the pores of mannequins in boutique windows, translating into the latest apparel on the streets. The Danes just seem to innately know how to match a cute, elfin, fresh-from-the-forest Red Riding Hood cape, stripes, and pumps with fashion. Hygge is ease and flow; the ‘laidbackness’ of life; the glow in the window of the café you mistook for somebody’s living room. Hygge is the fluidity of design, the round curves on the office desk, the freedom of office attire and The Shoes Off Rule. Hygge is the Sunday Afternoon Drive. And people are like this 24/7 Denmark!
3) Beauty – Oh how the Danes are refreshingly – or just bloody good at acting so – unaware of their beauty. I mean everyone has those Helena Christensen eyes, yet nobody is tossing their hair over their shoulders, fluttering their eyelashes demurely or pouting to re-apply lippy in shop windows. Men and women alike. How happy and self-assured is that?
4) Happy Bunnies – The unique skills of Danish Mums are positively celebrated! Should they choose to stay at home full-time, then of course they have that option. But, should they choose to return to work (after up to 52 weeks – yes, 52 weeks! – with maternity subsistence allowance), then they are whole-heartedly encouraged, because guess what? Childcare in Denmark is only bloomin’ well funded up to a maximum of 25% by the parents! The lovely Danish government takes care of the rest. And there are Forest Schools!
5) Nature – When the sun IS out: oh, the beaches and oh, the forests! Despite the fact that Denmark is so close to the UK, it always baffles me to learn just how few of us have actually bothered to visit this little gem of a country.
In fact it’s hard to put its beauty into words, but suffice to say, if you imagine the powdery white sands from a Caribbean island (minus the sticky temps) coupled with a Kiwi artist’s easel, you wouldn’t be far off. This is the land of fairy tales, where magic abides. How fitting then that Denmark’s Queen Mary was once a humble waitress from Australia.
But for all the reasons the Danes make me smile, for crying out loud… is it possible to order just one savoury dish without getting a rainfall of dill on your plate?
Maybe not… then again, maybe this book will explain all! I heartily recommend it if you want more happiness in your life. Yes, the Danes really do have a think or to to teach us!